Faith, Family and Friendship, They were three of the things that were most important to my mother. Our mother’s strong faith helped shape her life and helped her conquer any fear or obstacle she encountered during her life. She was a fighter, and was determined to succeed at any task she set out to complete. From the start of her life she dealt with setbacks, she was diagnosed with polio as a young child. She never talked about it and did not have any noticeable effects from the disease. When we asked her about it she told us she spent hours a day as a child doing exercises to overcome the effects of the disease. The loss of her father at a young age altered her life. She assumed the cooking duties at the age of 11 for her family when her mother had to enter the work force. Our mother was being groomed to attend college to become a career woman from a young age, but with the death of her father all of that changed. Although there were setbacks she never lost sight of her goals.
She chose to marry and raise a family instead of following her dreams. Our mother talked about being a stay at home mom and about raising the three of us during our formative years. She said on many occasions that being at home with her three children was THE happiest time of her life. She said she had given each of us everything we would need to succeed in life. And we would have to agree, as she gave all three of us everything she could. As she entered the workforce and worked on her career, she also found time to go back to school and get the college degree she had always dreamed of. Although her dreams were delayed they were still realized.
Our mother devoted a lot of her time to keeping in touch with all of her family members. Whether it was writing letters, sending cards, sending emails, traveling with family, or transporting family, telephone conversations, all of this personal interaction was very important to her. She spent an equal amount of time with her friends, lifelong grade school friends from Neenah, friends from Menasha– where she lived for close to 20 years– and her friends in Madison where she lived for many years. She then developed an incredible support system and close friendships from her 20 years in Manitowoc. We were always amazed that she could find the time to do this, but we had failed to understand that our mother prioritized what was important in life.
She was a woman of tremendous faith. She volunteered a lot of her time to the church. She was a regular at church and bible class. She was on the Board of Servanthood for the church. She counted money on a regular basis as a way to help the church. She was an active member of group that helped serve meals after funeral services (A Wisconsin tradition). She started the Relay for Life team at the church in 2001 and was actively involved until her passing. Our mother also babysat for the Pastor’s children on Wednesday nights while they were teaching confirmation class.
Our mother had always been an avid reader and a tremendous fan of education. Outside of church she was a member of the Manitowoc Friends of the Library where she donated her time and was a member of their board. She also offered her time to help non English Speaking Immigrants learn the English language. Not only did she help them learn to adapt to life in the US and speak English, but she became a part of their lives and they had long standing friendships and correspondence after the training was finished. She was a good teacher and an even better listener.
She knew the ultimate goal was to get to heaven. As a mother, we could not have asked for someone who was more supportive in our lives. She was always there to lift us up. It would be easy to think that she lost the battle with cancer, but as she told us many times in her final weeks, if the goal was to get to heaven how could it be considered a loss. God gave us the pleasure of having her here on earth for over 15 years after her original diagnosis and for that we are thankful. We will never refer to 3/14/11 as the day she lost her life. We will forever remember this day as the day of her rebirth. March 14, 2011 was the day she entered heaven, and the day she was able to reap the rewards of her life of service in helping others any way she could. We can only imagine the reunions she experienced entering heaven, and we look forward to the day when we will see her again. As her family we will always have the loving memories of our time together. To the public, this book is a lasting memorial of her teachable moments. We created this site to continue to share her message of hope, faith, and strength with others affected by cancer through her books.