Thursday, September 16, 2010

Happy Birthday to the Woman Who Inspires Me the Most

Today's writing prompt for the Back to Blogging Challenge is to "Write a new post about a woman who inspires you."  With so many great and inspiring women out there one would think it would be a hard thought choice.  My choice is so obvious to those who know me!  The woman who inspires me the most is my Mom!  And how appropriate that today's assignment coincides with her birthday.

Sixty-eight years ago this very day, in Elmira, New York, Fred and Eva Schaeffer welcomed Carlene Margaret into the world.  That's Carlene, on the far left all swaddled up in layers of blanketing, being fawned over by her Mother, Eva, and oldest sister, Viola.  I've been told she was quite the cutie back in her day!  Who knew back then that the very best thing that ever happened to me got her start?

Carlene grew up the fourth eldest of  a lower-middle class family of eight children. A product of Eva's marriage to Fred, she is their first child together. Throughout her childhood she was no stranger to moving from home to home, most located in either a borough of New York City or in Philadelphia. You see, Carlene's mother had a dose of gypsy blood in her.  When life became routine, Eva  would "pack her grip" and off they'd go to a new home, always bouncing between New York and Pennsylvania.

At one point in the early 1960's, Eva and Fred settled in Philadelphia long enough for Carlene to meet Philip, fall in love and eventually get married. And that's where I come in... I have the privilege and honor to be Carlene's daughter - the luckiest girl who ever walked the face of the Earth!!

So, you'd think that this is reason enough to be inspired by my Mom. But that's just a hair of a fraction of a reason...

In September 1996, with Mom's help, I finally moved out on my own. Mom was there every step of the way encouraging me.  When, a year later, I started an online relationship with my now-husband, Mom was the only person who had faith that this leap of a lifetime was a good one.  She 100% backed my big move from Philadelphia to Michigan in November of 1998.  She was my "Rock" when my lovely daughter was born and died way too soon.  She was at the hospital when Buddy, my first son, was born and again when Tinklemeister, our youngest son, was born.  She again was my strength when both boys we diagnosed with pneumo-thorax shortly after birth. She stood by my side so many times, never faltering, never wavering in her love for me or for my children.

Her love and strength didn't falter even when, in March of 2009, while on a visit from Philadelphia to our home in Michigan for Buddy's fifth birthday, my Mom started having difficulty swallowing rice.  Anytime we ha rice, no matter how hard she tried,  she just could NOT swallow the rice.  Deep in the darkest pit of my stomach I knew that wasn't a good thing.  But Mom pushed on, promising that she would talk to the doctor when she returned to Philadelphia.  Well, since she and Dad didn't eat rice, the problem got forgotten about... Until June 2009, that is.

On OUR visit to Philadelphia for Tinklemeister's third birthday, we noticed that Mom was having more and more problems swallowing. We stayed in Philly for a week.  It was already planned that Mom would take the ride back to Michigan with us, which she did.  Things only got worse. If it wasn't smooth, it wouldn't go down.  We called her doctor from our house and scheduled an appointment for the day after she returned home.  At 66 years old, Mom was diagnosed with gastro-esophageal cancer.

The journey through darkness for our family had just begun.  And so did  the reason that I am MOST inspired by my Mother.   Shortly after diagnosis, Mom began chemo and radiation treatments that ripped her body apart, robbed her of her strength and her independence.  She built up enough strength that in late January of this year, Mom underwent an insanely long and arduous surgery to remove her esophagus and a large part of her stomach, immediately followed by reconstructive surgery.  Once Mom regained her physical strength, she began the next round of chemotherapy.  And this time, she got really sick and chose to end chemotherapy.

In the year that this disease changed our family, one thing never changed... Mom's faith in God and her devotion to Dad, my children and me ever wavered.  If anything  her love, faith and devotion have increased.  Mom has shown me what it is to be a great mom, a faithful child of God and loyal friend to those I meet.  She is full of life and the desire to live it to the fullest.  She could have easily given up and let the cancer overtake her.  She chose to fight a valiant fight and has come out the victor.  She is my hero, my inspiration and the one person I can count on to always love me unconditionally.  She's the best gift I've ever received in my life.  Without her I wouldn't be the Mom I am today.  Through her love for me I have learned to love my children as they are and only dream for the best for them.  She is today, always has been and will always be my rock. She's the foundation of who I am and who I strive to be. Without her in my life, I would have been nothing.

Mother Goose had it all wrong for Wednesday's child when  she wrote:
Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for his living,
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.
Mother Goose must have been talking about anyone BUT my mother! She's a Wednesday's Child who is never full of woe. She is an amazing woman, a phenomenal woman, a strong woman, a loving woman, a  genuinely devoted child of God. She is an always faithful and extremely devoted wife, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend. But best of all of her life titles is that of MOM! Why you may ask? Cause she's MINE!

Thanks for being one of the best parts of my life!

And now for the business part:  This post has been recreated and inspired by the SITS Girls BACK TO BLOGGING EVENT.  Interested in more information about this challenge?? Check them out at Back2Blogging.  Who knows  where  it just might lead you!

This blogging  challenge event is sponsored by Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen and Bath and Florida Builder Appliances.  Be sure to check them  out. Maybe with their help and that of the SITS Girls, Thelma & Louise can come live at your house! (Although I REALLY want them to come and live with me!)


  1. What a beautiful tribute to your mother, who sounds like an amazing woman. My friend's father has esophageal cancer. It's a terrible, terrible thing, like all cancers.

    I can only hope some day my children will say such wonderful things about their mom..

  2. Cheryl,
    Thanks for the kind words. Cancer truly sucks, but t seems as if Mom's kicking Cancer's a$$ these days!

    I, too, hope that my boys will say sweet loving things about me. I;m pretty sure we'll both get our wishes!!

    Peace, love & happiness,