Posted by: Kathy | September 2, 2010

Making the Most of 349 Days

I hate to sound like a cliché or to use common sayings. But I’ve learned that some of these sayings are true and they can be applied to my life. Life as we know it can change in the blink of an eye, sometimes drastically. And it is important to make the most of the time we have with the people we love. My life and how I looked at things, felt about things, and made it through each day changed the day my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It changed again, more dramatically this time, when pancreatic cancer took my mom’s life. I have many regrets, but I know that I tried to make the best of the time I had with my mom between her diagnosis and her death.

During those 349 days, we celebrated Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, Easter, everyone’s birthday, and Halloween. My mom heard my daughter say “Grandmom, Grandmom,” and then come running to her for the first time. She went to a grandparents tea at my daughter’s daycare. My mom blew bubbles for Nikki, drew on the driveway with chalk, and took long walks with her as they collected pine cones, sticks, flowers, leaves, and rocks. My mom played ball and frisbee with my son in their front yard and watch him move from third to fourth grade as a straight A student. My mom was there to see Matt get his senior red belt and then held on until he became a black belt in TaeKwonDo, dying less than 24 hours after learning of his accomplishment. As a family we went to the beach, playing in the sand and walking on the boardwalk. We also went through a corn maze, something we did together every year. But this time it was different. By October, my mom was tired and in a lot pain, but she still walked through the maze with us and we made it to the end.

During that time, I tried to show my mom just how much I loved her. I called her every day, sometimes just to say “hi” and “I love you”. I told my mom that I didn’t want to lose her and how I wanted her to be around to watch the kids grow up. I listened to her fears and her wishes. I supported her in any way I could. And when we realized that my mom may not have a lot of time left with us, that she may not see her grandkids grow up, she asked me to please keep her memory alive for them. It was a promise I made to her and one that I plan to keep. I think my best memory from that time was the day my mom and I went to New Hope to celebrate her birthday. It was a mother-daughter day and we didn’t have many of those. It was a beautiful Fall day. We went to lunch, walked through the streets, shopped a little, and then ended the day with my mom’s favorite treat – ice cream.

We had less than a year together after my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. But I tried to make the most of those 349 days. During the last 3 weeks of her life, I was with my mom almost every day, and I was with her the night before she died. Those were hard days, emotional ones filled with fear, sadness, desperate hope, and many tears. But I’m grateful that we had that time together, and the memories of what we shared during that time will forever be in my heart.



  1. Loved reading about the precious times you spent with your mother. We hope until the end for something to change, don’t we? Even though it was not to be, you made unforgettable memories! Thanks for sharing some of them with us…

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