Where have you been Pie Lady FI? You haven't posted since April!
My friends, it is with heavy heart to share with you that my mom, at 73 years young, lost her battle with a rare form of liver cancer, July 2018.
My last post, Got Crisis? An Emergency Fund Can Help With That, I talked about my mom and her battle with liver cancer. How she opted for the surgery the first time. When the cancer came back, March 2018, a year later, she opted for chemo pills. If the chemo worked, doctors gave her a maximum of 12 months. If they didn't, 6 months.
Going to see her family in Italy was always something she talked about doing as it had been a few years since her last visit. We talked about the two of us taking that trip together. A mother-daughter trip for 3 weeks. The doctors thought it would be great. She was uninterested and would say “when I feel better, we will go.”.
Even now, its tough to write this post. Our relationship in many ways was a typical mother-daughter relationship. My teenage years we fought often and would make up right away. It continued that way in my early 20s. We would fight but by dinner time we were talking about what to make that evening… as if nothing happened and all was forgiven.
As I got older, had my own kids, our relationship got better. Mostly because I was changing and I would like to think maturing. Mom was tough, no question. But during my lowest points, she was always there… calling daily to check on me and the grandkids. She even flew here to stay and help. She repeatedly asked me to move home, during my unemployment time. But south Florida had an even worse time to find employment. She would periodically send me money when I couldn't make ends meet, even though she was on fixed income.
Mom and I were raised very differently. She was born and raised in a small town in Italy. She never got past elementary school and went to work very young. By 20, she dated my dad for about 2 years before they got married. My dad got a call for work in Florida. Once he established himself, almost a year later, he called for my mom to join him. Neither of them had lived anywhere except their little town in Italy. They were poor. I mean poor. Not just financially poor, but only spoke Italian and didn't know anyone except the shop keeper they worked for poor. Mom was depressed and home sick. Early on, she didn't like living here at all. It was the late 60s. It must have felt like she moved from earth to mars with all that was going on in the US at that time. She didn't like the food and lived on hamburgers. She worked for free since she was learning a new trade. The hours were very long.
My dad was the one who wanted us to go to college and in fact I was the first on both sides of my family to graduate from college. My brother was second.
If you are a first generation American then you will understand when I say mom and I (only the mothers and daughters seem to go through this) had a love-hate relationship. And its not just Italians, really any country.
No question, mom loved me. She was proud of me and what I had accomplished. She knew her sacrifices played a big role in who I am today and for that I am very grateful. But there was also hate. Hate because, somehow I robbed her of her life that she could have had. A life that now I was living. Now please don't get me wrong, she never hated me but hated that when she looked at me and my life, she was reminded of what could have been.
Mom would tell me “Raising children is like buying a car. You can either spend a bunch of money in the beginning and buy brand new or spend a little up front but then spend (time and money) along the way repairing it. Either way, you are going to spend that money so you are better off paying up front.”
Raising kids, same thing. You spend your time and energy when kids are young, when you are their world and sole influencer. When they start high school, your influence is cut to 50% and that is IF you have a solid relationship. It is at this point, when we think back as parents, “Did I give them a solid foundation on which they can make good choices?” If you did, then that 50% wont scare you as much.
Mom was always great about advice. Kids, money and food, she was always experimenting in the kitchen. She was an amazing cook and loved a good party – complete with dancing. Dancing as in move-the-furniture-out-of-the-way-and-let's-go. We had great parties. 40-50 people would show up with wine, food and music. They would play all kinds of made up games and even truth-or-dare. So crazy when I look back.
In July 2018 mom passed.
In August, we had the funeral service. It was her wish to be cremated.
In September, my boyfriend of 7 years, asked me to marry him. October brought my 50th birthday.
I am grateful that I spent mom's last week by her side. I am grateful that we all got to visit with her over the summer while she was still mobile. I am grateful for all the good talks we had.
Even with all that, I would give anything to talk to her one more time.
Love the ones you are with. Make time for what is truly important.
Instead of presents this holiday season, why not give the gift of time and an experience that will one day turn into a fond memory to be carried in your heart.