They say time heals all wounds, but I’m not quite sure I agree with that. Tonight marks the 6th anniversary of losing my mother-in-law Sandy to Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Her illness was quick, horrible, painful and for those that love her excruciatingly short. In the turn of mere months, my mother in law went from living a normal life to hospice.
Cancer is such an insidious, deceptive, merciless disease. By the time, doctors discovered my mother in laws cancer, it had already metastasized to her lymph notes, arms, and spine. In reality, her entire abdomen was riddled with cancer. It wasn’t until she suffered from debilitating back pain that her cancer was discovered. Unfortunately, as is the case with many people, her cancer was discovered in an advanced stage.
Cruelly, until the onset of the back pain, there was nothing that suggest that something was severely awry. Coincidentally, this is where I plug genetic counseling, mammograms, MRIs and pro-active preventative medicine. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to tell you that these tests – mammograms, colonoscopy, PSA tests, breast and testicular self-exams are essential for your health. Do not skip them!
Late into Grandma Sandy’s illness, my hubby spent most of his time in Minny with her while I stayed back in Florida with the kids. During that time though, the kids were in school, so going to Minny for long periods of time wasn’t in our wheelhouse. Honestly, it was one of the few moments, since moving to Florida, that I really wanted to be back home in Minny. Truly, it killed us not to be there with her or with my hubby.
Since the moment I started dating my hubby, Grandma Sandy was always in my corner. Admittedly, she spoiled me and wholeheartedly welcomed me into their family. The feeling was mutual. She never doubted us or our relationship even when we got pregnant with Jake. She supported us through the hardest moments from beginning to the end. I remember going over to my Hubby’s house and she had gone shopping. She probably bought Jake the entire store that day. I loved everything she bought and in fact still have a lot of it.
Grandma Sandy was fiercely proud of her family and her Finnish heritage. Both of her parents were of Finnish descent with both sides of her family immigrating to the US in the around the turn of the 20th Century. If you ask me, Goalielocks definitely looks like the Ketola side. Of course, my family is mostly Norwegian. I guess it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that everyone in Norway and on the SAS flight thought we were Norwegian. My Mother-in-Law had a big, loving Finnish family that was and is an incredible support to her and to us. We’re forever grateful for the great care they took of Grandma Sandy when we couldn’t be in Minny with her.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I miss her love of Bingo, Barbies, all things Finnish, the Twins, the Wild, the Vikings and of course Dan Marino. I’ll never forget watching the Vikings lose to Atlanta in 1998. As the game clock winded down, her, the hubby and I found ourselves pacing nervously in the garage. Of course, Gary Anderson would pick the most inopportune time to miss a field goal in a perfect season, but at the time our nerves were shot and full of hope. (As an aside, it seems the Vikes can’t escape their kicker issues.)
Even though it has been six years, in some ways it feels like yesterday. I think she’d bit surprised that I’ve allowed a veritable zoo in my house, but she probably saw it coming. I certainly didn’t. Additionally, I think she’d be super nervous about Jake driving, but also so proud of him. She’d be proud of all the boys. Certainly as we start to hit more milestones like Jake’s graduation, her absence is punctuated. The truth of the matter is that she’ll never truly leave us. She’ll always be with us in spirit, in the mannerisms my hubby and kids have inherited from her and in our hearts.
Sometimes, she even shows up in my yoga class. One Saturday morning, my favorite sub Kaye was teaching the vinyasa class, when her iPod randomly switched to Patsy Cline’s “Crazy,” which was my mother-in-law’s favorite song. My teacher couldn’t for the life of her figured out how it happened. When we spoke after class, we figured it out. So tonight in honor of Grandma Sandy, hold your loved ones extra tight, forgive and forget because at the end of the day life is far too short.
Tonight’s song, in honor of Grandma Sandy, is Patsy Cline’s “Crazy.” I love this song as it reminds me of her.