Today my sister-in-law died. It was not unexpected; however, that does not take the pain away at a time such as this.
Maureen had cancer... yes, that dreaded disease that we hear we are making such strides in curing,
but for her, the cure did not come fast enough.
Read the obituaries and it is astounding the number of deaths due to cancer.
I believe it has affected nearly every family in some way or another.
Maureen was 72 years old and prior to getting sick, she was always on the go.
Oh how she loved to garden and I will always remember her lavish flower gardens of rudbeckia (brown-eyed susans)
with their blossoms blowing in the wind and the beds of impatiens in psychedelic colors
that seemed to grow like weeds with her care.
And as my Christmas cactus would languish, hers would be full and green and covered with buds ready to pop.
She raised her children... the twins, Marc and Kelly and baby sister Amy with great enthusiasm.
Her life was filled with their activities.
Marc and Kelly now live in Denver and one of my favorite pictures of Maureen was that of her and her husband, Phil,
standing on a mountain top and obviously feeling on top of the world in this beautiful part of our country.
It is no wonder that Marc and Kelly were seduced by the majesty of those mountains.
Maureen led an admirable life putting family first and spent much of her latter years
in helping to care for our mother-in-law Jennie who we also recently lost.
She would take Jennie to doctor's appointments, hair appointments, help organize the maze of paperwork and bills,
and helped to orchestrate Jennie's transition to assisted living.
And at the end of each visit, she would take a load of clothes to wash.
I remember the day I was talking to her about how appreciative we all were of her care of Jennie.
She told me she thinks she felt this obligation perhaps because in retrospect
she felt she could have done more than what she did for her own parents.
For whatever reason... I know Maureen was the kind of person who went
above and beyond and did not seek anything in return.
And when my husband's sister was diagnosed with cancer, Maureen was there for her as well.
Maureen also loved to clean but disliked cooking.
This always amazed me as I definitely did not get the "clean" gene but did get the "cooking" gene.
We laughed about this on many occasions.
With her cancer diagnosis came the realization that she may well not survive
to celebrate her 50th wedding anniversary in spite of ongoing treatment.
With this in mind, Phil organized a lavish celebration of their 48th wedding anniversary.
What a glorious day it was!
Nearly 250 friends and family were invited to the Hunterdon Hills Playhouse.
The day began with drinks and appetizers as we listened to a strolling guitarist.
Maureen's wedding gown was on display as well as photos of their wedding.
A full dinner was served and entertainment was provided by The Four Freshman.
Maureen and Phil were avid fans of this group and traveled all over the United States for their concerts.
Maureen and Phil danced and Maureen was absolutely radiant that day in her purple dress and a sparkle in her eyes
as she laughed and shared precious memories with her guests.
You see... Maureen knew how to make friends and she kept them for a lifetime.
She marveled at her thin figure but knew that the cancer was beginning to take it's toll.
Live one day at a time and cherish those days... and she truly did.
In the end... Maureen was cared for at home with her husband by her side and the support of hospice care.
Her sister-in-law Debbie was instrumental at helping in her care and
Amy moved back to New Jersey to be near her mom at this most difficult time.
Marc and Kelly traveled back home again as her condition deteriorated.
Maureen died at home with her family at her side with dignity and a life well lived.
(This November would have been Phil and Maureen's 50th wedding anniversary.)