Here in Canada, April is Cancer Awareness Month, and the symbol is the Daffodil.
For me, the Daffodil has a deep and special meaning.
The snow was still deep in the front yard when we first noticed signs that my mother was not well. 24 hours after the initial appointment with our family doctor, and subsequent rush for a CT scan, we were in the family quiet room in the ICU at the hospital, waiting for her to come out of surgery.
My mother, who had never had a serious illness in her life, was now battling for that life.
My mother was often forgetful. She could remember so much from her past, but was the first to admit that she didn’t have a great memory for little things. She would make little jokes about the things she was forgetting, we would laugh and then it was forgotten. So, because of this we didn’t notice the initial signs at first.
It was when got up one morning to make a massive breakfast because she told us she was feeding the relatives who had come to stay with us, (these relatives were deceased) that we realized something more serious was wrong. Obviously our family doctor thought so too, as my mother was rushed for a CT scan and then scheduled for surgery the next day.
A malignant brain tumor the size of a golf ball that looked to be inoperable. The doctors did not hold out much hope of her surviving the disease let alone the operation.
The doctors obviously didn’t know my mother.
My mother was the eternal optimist. She saw the best in everyone and everything, and never doubted that things could get done, even when people said it couldn’t be. This was one of the key lessons that my mother taught me. To always be positive, and above everything else, to always have hope.
Always a fighter, my mother defied the doctors prognosis of surviving the surgery.
However, the days that followed her surgery were very tough, as she floated in and out of the morphine cloud she was in.
Day after day of trying not to despair that she wasn’t recognizing us, or her surroundings.
Day after day of getting up to make the 1 ½ hour trip from our home to the hospital.
Day after day of leaving the hospital to make the same trip home to go to sleep to do it over again the next day.
Each day trying to find hope that this would be the day that would show an improvement in her condition.
It was 6 weeks from the time of her diagnosis until my mother’s death in the early morning hours of April 16, 1985.
6 weeks longer to spend with her than we had been given on the day of her surgery.
But only 6 short weeks to say everything we needed to say, to say enough “I love you’s” and memorize everything about her face, her hands, her smile to last us our lifetimes.
The day of my mother’s funeral, I saw the daffodils starting to open in the front garden of our house. Spring had come without our notice. A lover of daffodils, my mother had planted hundreds of bulbs in the front flower beds to welcome the spring after each long snowy winter. The daffodil fit so perfectly with my mother’s sunny personality and view of life. They are called the flower of hope, and symbolize rebirth and new beginnings.
She let us know she was looking over us
My mother spoke to us that day through the daffodils in her garden. She let us know that even though she couldn’t be there in person to love us, there would be other ways she would let us know that she was looking over us. She wanted to remind us to stay positive and be hopeful even in situations where there looks to be none.
It has been 32 years since my mother’s death. I still can’t believe it’s been that long. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of her. My mother never had the joy of being at my wedding or seeing her grandchildren born, but I know she has been there watching over us through it all. When I look in my daughters eyes, or see the funny crooked pinkie finger my son has, I see my mother. She’s with me through every triumph and trial I encounter, reminding me to stay positive and to have hope in what the future brings.
This year I will be the same age as my mother when she passed away. My daughter gets very upset when I say this, but because I have the same eternal optimist trait as my mother, I am not worried and I tell her not to be worried either. I look positively towards the future, feeling healthy and enjoying what each day brings to me.
Remember to see and embrace the joy and happiness
When daffodils show their happy faces in the spring, it is just one more reminder from my mother to see joy, happiness, hope and new beginnings in even the most troubling and trying of times.
I miss you every day Mom. With love from your little girl. xoxo