Posted by: Kathy | December 27, 2010

A Special Gift

As I wrote in my last post, every year I give my dad a calendar for Christmas that is filled with memories of my mom. This year’s calendar has 25 pictures of my mom from different times in her life. The earliest picture was taken in 1960, when she was a senior in high school. The most recent picture was from the last Christmas my mom shared with her family in 2007.

This year my dad surprised me with a very special Christmas gift, something that I will always treasure. He gave me a beautiful album filled with Christmas letters that my mom had written over many years. My dad told me that he had come across the letters among the Christmas stuff. He didn’t know that my mom had saved them. The first letter is from December 1989 and the last letter was written in December 2006. My mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December 2007, and by December 2008 she was gone.

I only skimmed the letters when I first opened the gift, but kept the album with me the entire day. When I got home on Christmas night and the house was quiet, I read each letter. There are 14 letters in all. It seems that two letters are missing (1994 and 1995), and there are two years when my mom didn’t write a letter – in December 2002 my husband and I were married at my parents’ house and my mom’s mother died in December 2005. For these two years, my mom explains why she didn’t send a letter when she writes the next one. Only two of the letters are signed in my mom’s neat handwriting.

It’s amazing to read these letters, and there is information that I either didn’t know about or had forgotten over the years. My mom writes about good times and bad, all that is happening with family members, herself, and even our pets sometimes. What is most special about these letters is that I’m reading my mom’s own words and sharing her thoughts and feelings. I smiled as I read parts of the letters written from 1999 on. I could feel my mom’s love and excitement as she wrote about the births of her grandchildren, as well as the times she and my dad shared with Matt (Nikki was only 6 months old when my mom wrote her last Christmas letter). I also read about the love she had for her parents and the deep loss she felt when they died. I could feel how much she loved my dad and how proud she was of him and his work. She was excited about the accomplishments made by my brother and myself over the years. She also wrote about how much she admired my husband and how he cared for our family. My mom even humbly wrote about her work through the years (she dedicated her life to helping others in so many ways).

This scrapbook of letters is something that I will always cherish and one day share with my kids. I know I will read these letters over and over again. They are a treasure of information and feelings. Thank you, Dad, for such a special gift.



  1. I am actually looking for some help. My mom is suffering currently from pancreatic cancer. She was diagnosed in March of 2010. She completed 6 weeks of Chemo and now the doctors want to start 6 weeks of radiation along with oral chemo. I really dont know what to do…I am her legally guardian and also power of attorney and this decision is the hardest I have ever had 2 make. To complicate things evern more…she suffered the rupture of 2 brain aneurysms in 12/08 leaving her legally blind and with memory loss. She still has a 3rd aneurysm that needs to be treated. I dont know how much more 2 put her through and have read horrible things about the side effects of radiation therapy especially with pancreatic cancer. Please help …….

    • Hi Dawn. I sent you an e-mail in reply to your comment. ~ Kathy

  2. Hi Kathy, I just came upon your blog while searching for blogs that deal with grief. I am so sorry for your loss, your site will definitely help others going through the same thing. I too just lost my mother and while not to cancer but to a stroke, the loss was sudden without any time to say good bye or that I loved her. I lost my mother Sept. 16, 2010. I hope we can mutually gain some strength and solace in each others blogs, I hope you will visit mine when you can…thank you for sharing your thoughts on your blog. Sincerely, Wendy of foible gal.

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