A Letter to My Mother

Dear Mom:

Your birthday and Mother's Day are fast approaching, and this summer will be the 10th anniversary of your death. A day hasn't gone by when I haven't thought of you. In fact, many of those days I have talked to you, and while I know you hear me, it would be really nice to hear your voice.

I don't expect to understand why God took you so early, but I am fortunate enough to recognize the things I learned from you. You smelled the flowers, and made everyone else smell the flowers when they were with you. Every holiday was a party, and every birthday was a celebration of life. No matter a person's standing, belief or ethnicity, people are people, and everyone should be treated equal.

You chose to raise a family, but didn't lose yourself. You and Julia Child were among the first 20 people to be certified by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. You were highly regarded in the areas of food and wine, hosted one of the first food and restaurant talk radio shows, and I am certain would have been the Midwest Paula Dean if you were still with us.

You taught me that quiet quality ("qq") speaks louder than a microphone, and that true friends are a blessing.

I live in a professional world filled with pain, anger, retribution and hostility, because the people I encounter are not living the life they planned. Perspective is an amazing thing. You aren't living the life you planned either. You would be happy just to be alive.

Cancer is a horrible word. It is a word that changes the life of the person to which it is tied, and to the lives of that person's family and friends. It irrevocably changed our lives. However, it never changed your determination, or your spirit. It never defined you.

Your illness taught me that being honest with your situation, and addressing it head on is the only way to fight. Although there were certainly moments of despair, you didn't feel sorry for yourself, or allow others to draw you into the circle of doom. You recognized the need to stay positive, and to savor the joy in your life. This is a lesson everyone could learn. Instead of despairing about the things lost, concentrate on the blessings.

Too often people forget the wonders of their life, especially when they are going through dark moments. You taught me that no matter how difficult a situation, life is wonderful, and while today may be bad, tomorrow will be better. Even with death, the stabbing pain dulls over time.

Your passing not only left a hole in the heart of your family and friends, but in truth, everyone who ever knew you. Not because you were perfect, but because you cared. You're death taught me that mourning is a natural part of life, but it should not prevent me or anyone else from living. It taught me that when the lights dim, the shine in the eyes of the person you love is what will be remembered and cherished forever. You will always be remembered. You will always be loved. Happy Birthday. Happy Mother's Day.