Thursday, August 31, 2006

1954 Girl of the Year


Today my mother would have been 70 years old. I prefer to think of her on her birthday, rather than remember the day she left us.

Margie Ann Denham Keene was funny, caring, loving, and strong. I strive to be like her everyday in my dealings with the kidlets. I don't know how she did it. Growing up my mother had to be mother and very often for long stretches the father. My father's job often took him on the road to exotic places for months at a time. While he was gone, mom had to not only do the "mom" jobs, she also had to take care of the "dad" duties - minor repairs around the house, car repair, heavy lifting - you know, the jobs that are usually reserved for dads when they get home in the evenings.

In addition to taking care of the kids, house, and the occassional plugged toilet, she was also very active in PTA and church, which left very little time for Marge. I suppose that's why she liked to crochet and sew. Even though she was often making something for me, it was her time to sit, relax, and just be. I still have the hat she crocheted for me to match the poncho(back when ponchos were popular the first time around) that I sort of designed. I requested a purple and white granny square poncho with fringe. She threw in the hat as a surprise. I could kick myself for getting rid of the poncho several years ago when my daughter was still a baby. At the time I thought "these things will never come back in style". Thankfully, I kept the hat.

She was a very strong woman of character. When I was about 8 months pregnant with my first child, mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She didn't say a word to anyone except my father. She didn't want to steal my thunder at the impending birth of my first(and her only daughter's) baby.

Evan was born at 8:30 in the morning at the same hospital on the same morning that mom had her chemo cathater inserted. I didn't know it at the time. She came into my room to see me before Evan was born. I saw a bruise on her chest, and asked her if she had been in a bar fight. She just laughed and blew it off.

Mom never told any of us how poorly her chemo treatment was going. She didn't want any negative vibes or anyone's pity. She had a type of breast cancer that I had never heard of before. It was inflammatory breast cancer. It looks as though you have a bad sunburn is how her oncologist described it. It claims 80% of it's victims. But we didn't know any of this until her last days.

Through it all, Mom kept up her sense of humor even until the end. She was the perfect straight man to my husband's one liners. They had a running joke that she never paid him the dowry he had coming to him when we got married. Her last words to John were priceless, "You're still not getting my money!"

Here's to you, Mom.

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