Some things make you realize how important your heritage is and how important it is to make your life count. These are three women who really impacted my life. All three were amazing and all had lives that were cut short because of cancer.
Grandma ThayneMy Grandma Thayne passed away when I was three years old. I don't remember anything about her. My only memory of her at all was being at her funeral and it being dark and people crying and me not understanding why everyone was so sad. So it is weird to me that a person I really never knew effected my life so much. I was born on my Grandma's birthday. As a matter of fact, I was born two weeks late in order to be born on her birthday. My name was supposed to be Mindi, but was changed to her name when our b-days matched up. She and her sister married brothers. Me and my sister married brothers. Many people who knew her say I look a lot like her. Grandma Thayne loved to write. She wrote poetry and short stories and always wanted to get published. I wish so much that I had known her. That I could remember one detail, something of her. It makes me jealous that my older sister can remember her hands and I can't. However, I counted on her to be there for me, in my heart, like my mom told me she was. For some reason, because I knew she was somewhere in heaven watching over me, I wanted be my best for her. I wanted to make sure that, since we shared names, I made it a good one. And, more than anything, I want to get published, because in some way, it will be like both of us finally made it.
She found out she had breast cancer when she was fifty. Fifty. That's too young. And it was back in the time when there wasn't very much they could do for you. My mom doesn't talk about it very much. I don't blame her. Losing her mom devastated her. But sometimes I wish she we would tell me more stories about her. I can't wait until the day when I finally do get to meet my Grandma Thayne. SO heaven BETTER be real. J
Grandma MooreI don't know where I would be if it weren't for this lady. I wasn't one of those children who was raised solely by my parents. I had a huge extended family who met often, every Sunday as a matter of fact. My grandma was a farm wife who canned and bottled food, killed chickens, helped haul hay, and fed me ice cream every time I went to her house. She taught me that family is the most important thing. That friends are good, but being friends with your family is best. Sometimes we did fun things like play night games until it was so pitch black you were likely to find yourself at the bottom of the huge irrigation ditch that lined the house (something that happened more than once in our games of hide and seek), or have huge games of UNO around my grandma's tiny kitchen table. Along with the fun things was mixed a lot of hard work. At grandma's we learned how to really clean a house (down to staining the kitchen cabinets once a year). We herded cows, planted and harvested a huge garden, pruned trees, and branded cattle.
The whole time—HAVING FUN!
Not that we didn't have our issues. My sister and I used to call the Moore Family Gatherings, The Moore Wars (the first of which began because my grandma, thinking she was being nice, bought my cousin a shirt she thought said 'It ain't easy being pretty', which in fact said, "It ain't pretty being easy', something that wouldn't have been a big deal if my cousin hadn't, in fact, been sleeping around at the time. J Hahaha…It still makes me laugh). My grandma gossiped and got angry and picked favorites, and had her times of depression. But she was real.
To be honest, I don't remember my grandma without the word cancer attached to her. She suffered from Melanoma for eleven years, having pieces and parts of her body removed as they became infected. She walked with a limp and had a voice like a bullhorn (hmm hm, so that's where I got it). When she got really bad, I had to go and help take care of her, something that terrified me. I helped change diapers and turned her over in her bed so her bed sores didn't get worse. I was there the night she got really bad and had to leave her home that she loved forever. At the hospital she didn't remember my name.
But I never questioned it. I KNEW she loved me. It was the first thing in my life that let me know I had to live life to the fullest before I got old and couldn't do things anymore. I broke up with my boyfriend the next week. I started doing the things I really wanted to do.
Thanks for that Grandma.
Grandma Jo isn't actually my grandma. She was my kid's grandma. Jo was my mother-in-law. The truthfulness of the matter is that there were many times she drove me crazy. She invited my husband and I over for dinner EVERY Sunday. She called to check on us ALL THE TIME. She wanted to do "Girls Nights Out" and actually expected me to come. She was always prying by asking how I was doing. And worst of all, she never would say anything bad about anyone.
It makes me roll my eyes at myself that I was so bothered by these things; that I was bothered because she loved me too much. How STUPID!
Jo was one of the most fun people ever. She dared try anything and laughed all the time. She was interested in other people. I hated going to the store with her because she would run into a million people she knew, and then make friends with ten more. If you stood next to her in the grocery store line, she would know all your children's names, where you were born and raised, and make a connection to you, all in five minutes flat. She saw the best in people, even those who were mean to her. I thought she was making excuses for them, but she just whole-heartedly believed people acting rude were having a bad day, must have hard life, yadda, yadda, yadda. I didn't know how she could do it.
It was devastating when we found out she had Stage Four Breast Cancer. But she was determined to fight and beat it. She gave it a good fight, and actually lasted five years after the diagnosis. A year before she passed away, she took "the girls" (her daughter and three daughter-in-laws) to Vegas. She had a ball gambling and taking us to shows. We stood at the Bellagio Fountains while Sarah Brighton sang "Time to Say Goodbye." I remember looking at her and really feeling like the time was short. A few months before she passed away, she went to Canada on a bear hunt and bagged the largest bear anyone in the family ever had. Up to the moment she left this life, Jo remained positive. She had every reason to mope and complain and wish that things were different. But SHE DIDN'T. She saw the obstacles and thought "I'm going to hurdle that." She chose to be happy. She chose to look at every person in her life as someone valuable and important. The line at her funeral went out of the funeral home, around the building, and down two blocks. She loved people. And because she loved them, they loved her. She lived the saying "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain.
What a great lesson she taught me. We choose our reaction to the things that happen in our lives. We can live a life of misery or we can live a life of happiness. And it is all up to us.
Man, I miss her. I would give anything to go on one of her "Girls Nights Out" again.
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