By Paulette Ferland
Memories of my mother, Annette, are kept deep within the refines of my soul. Some of these lasting feelings are senses of warmth and
abiding love. Yes, those are reserved memories stored in that special place that only a mother and daughter can share. A mother and daughter for all time. My mother was my daytime and my night, my joy, my hope, and I planned on her being there for all time.
My childhood was happy. Growing up in a family of eight, laughter filled our home daily. My mother made sure of that! We spent all of
our summers at our camp. In the Spring of the year we would go out and clean through the drawers as a family, mom in charge. She taught us how to locate the cozy nests of chipmunks, mice, and other furry beings that made our camp theirs during those icy cold winter months. Those furry varmints seemed to always find a pair of our flannel pajamas and theywould claim them and shred them for their own. Every year it seemed we got new pj’s to replace the ones they
borrowed in cold weather. Once the camp was swept, mopped, dusted, and aired out, we were ready to have fun.
As I became older, I married and began a home of my own. Even then, my mother was an integral part of my everyday life. I was very fortunate, my parents lived only ten miles away. Every Saturday, my mom and I would spend the day together. We were the best of friends. We especially enjoyed rainy days! We would drive to Dunkin Donuts, purchase the largest coffee they sold, and sit in the restaurant and watch traffic and people come and go. To this very day, I love it when it rains. It brings back the fondest memories of a time gone by spent with a truly special friend.
On one frosty autumn day in October, my family showed up unexpectedly at our home with bad news. My entire family, including my mother, came to tell us that she found out she had cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, in her jaw. I was devastated in
hearing this. My world would never ever be the same again! I didn’t sleep at all that night. I couldn’t free my mind of bad thoughts of
Mom’s dentist called and referred us to a well-known plastic surgeon in the Bangor area and he made arrangements to see us immediately. He decided to operate on my mom that very next week. She had surgery here in Bangor, which endured for nine long hours. Following surgery, she had six weeks of intense radiation on her face and neck. The surgery left her very scarred and disfigured. Our life as a family became very difficult. Every time we went out in public with Mom, people would stare at her disfigurement. I am sure they were only curious in wondering what had happened. After a short while, my mom did not wish to go out in public. The plastic surgeon assured us that if she could live five years, she would be free from the cancer.
We went on for those five years and had a good life as a family. Most of our good times were spent visiting with each other and family members she felt comfortable with, playing cards, watching old movies, and staying away from crowds. During those trying years, we grew together even closer. One day my mother developed a cold. I took her to a doctor in our town to get some medicine to help her. After awhile, the doctor came out and said, “May I see you in one of the examining rooms?” I answered, “Sure.” When we got just inside the room he said, “Did you know your mother’s cancer was back?” Fear hit once again in my very soul. That doctor referred us to an out of state plastic surgeon. The very next week, my family and I drove mom on the six-hour journey to New Hampshire for a surgery that would be even longer than the first. Once we were able to visit with Mom, she was scarred even more. Technology in that room was performing every necessary function for her and she looked frail in that state.
My mother and I were out there six weeks during that cold winter while she healed. I stayed in a Hospice during that time and my shoes became my mode of transportation. On a cold February day, we journeyed back home with hopes of a successful full
recovery for my mom. But, that was not to be. After a one-month check-up with her doctor, he confirmed the cancer was back! The
doctor told us that day, it wouldn’t be long. I made arrangements at my present job to take a leave of absence to care for her.
My mother lasted until October 8th 1992, the day before my parent’s fiftieth wedding anniversary. The day she actually died, she asked me to call all of her children out of work and to come quickly. When they arrived she looked tenderly in all of her children’s faces and with the little breath she could muster up, she said farewell to each in her own way. With that, she passed on into the quiet night, encircled by her devoted family, carried off to her new dwelling, serenaded by angels. As she was with me the day I was born, I was honored to be with her the day she left us. It was difficult for all of us to carry on with broken and damaged hearts. The joy of our lives had left. So, I ask you, “Can love be buried? Is love permanent? Can love endure forever?”
This was a “Woman To Admire” certainly! Today I carry on with a gentle spirit, a compassionate heart, and memories of an “unfailing
love” in my life… A once-in-a-lifetime love.