Ann Marie Walks for the Cure

 

This was from a sponsor thank you letter we received from our cousin, (Helen’s niece) Ann Marie, who raised thousands of dollars for breast cancer research during the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer 3-day walk. I asked her if it would be okay if I posted it to my mom’s website and Ann Marie said she would honored to have it posted here:

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Ann Maire Minze

On October 12-14, 2007, I took an amazing journey and walked 60 miles over the course of three days for breast cancer research and patient support programs in the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Breast Cancer 3-day. I signed up for the walk in honor of my Aunt Helen, who had battled breast cancer for 10 years. I walked for her and for all women who have fought this battle with the same strength of mind, body, and soul it takes to go through breast cancer. I signed up not realizing what a great effect this walk would have on my life.

Twenty miles a day… and I was ready! We walked through neighborhoods with pink ribbons on their fences. There were people and their children out on their lawns every day and through every neighborhood, cheering us on. Women, men, and children on the side of the road showing their support with home made signs that said “Let’s go walkers” and “Thank you for walking.” Some had signs that told their stories of survival. Others had signs in memoriam of those they have lost to breast cancer. Some were women and men who were going through chemotherapy, thanking every single one of the 2,500 walkers for walking for them. In addition to all the people who were along the route daily, there were also “cheering stations,” which were almost a quarter of a mile long of people surrounding us like we were celebrities, cheering us on and slapping our hands, telling us to keep going with their home made signs, candy, tissues, support, encouragement, and stories.

Over the three-day walk, we had an incredible safety crew inspiring us to keep walking by dancing and singing with us while crossing us at intersections, and cheering us up and down those many, many hills we had to endure. They stayed with us through the last day. With my body telling me I could take no more, I kept walking, knowing that I was walking for those who couldn’t… like my Aunt Helen. At the closing ceremonies, I learned that the 3-day I was involved in, in Atlanta, Georgia, raised $6.6 million dollars for breast cancer research and patient support programs!

My Aunt Helen passed away on October 17, 2007, just days after I completed the Walk for the Cure. The experience had such a powerful impact on me, I have vowed to be involved in the Breast Cancer 3-day every year, in her name, hoping to one day live in a world without breast cancer because “Everyone deserves a lifetime.”

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More pictures of Ann’s journey
at the 3-day event can be seen on This Photo Page.

Looking and Listening for My Mom

Today it has been two months since I’ve seen my Mom. Never in my life have I gone this long without seeing or speaking to her. In fact, I’m sure I’ve never gone two weeks without her. I don’t know when it starts to get easier but I do know it’s not yet and since Thanksgiving I think it’s actually gotten harder. I suppose that’s not unusual for the holidays to be more difficult.

What surprises me the most is that I feel like I’m looking for her and somehow surprised when she’s not there. She wasn’t at our family Thanksgiving, she wasn’t at the baby shower for her first great grandchild and worst of all she not in my room at night when I call for her. She’s not even at the cemetery.

I do understand death and the finality of it but my heart doesn’t seem to get it. I find myself saying almost daily “how can this be, how can she be gone.” I feel like a little kid who doesn’t understand death, I say out loud to her “Mom, where are you?”

I’ve been expecting her, she told me she’d come to me, she promised. I make deals with her. I tell her, I known you can’t just appear but if I close my eyes and put out my hand let me feel your hand. I loved to hold her hand, so delicate and soft. I wait patiently… Nothing!

About a week ago I stayed in bed much too long on a Saturday morning wanting my Mom. I hadn’t done a bit of Christmas shopping or even put up my tree. When I finally came out of my room I saw boxes of Christmas decoration the family had dug out over a week ago. My first reaction was Bah Humbug, I don’t even want to have Christmas this year, not with out my Mom.

I did however want my Mom to have a tree, so I went out, bought a tree and took it to the cemetery. I stayed longer than I’m sure Mom would have wanted me to. Before I left the cemetery I asked her if she like the tree. I heard in my head “yes, now go home and put up your own tree.” Was that me??? It was my voice, but it sure wasn’t something I felt like doing. But just in case it was Mom, I thought I better get home and put up the tree.

On the way home it occurred to me that Mom might not like what I wrote on the card attached to the tree. I wrote; I don’t know how to do Christmas without you.

A few days later I talked to my dear friend Nancy, who lost both her parents. Like me, Nancy was with her Mom when she passed. I told Nancy about what I heard in my head at the cemetery and she insisted that was my Mom. I wanted to believe her, so I did. But still, it was my voice.

I told my Dad and my sister Mimi, and I’m sure like me they’d like to believe it too… but still, it was my voice. We all want to hear her voice, so very desperately want to hear her beautiful voice.

The night before last I was up alone watching a movie, not talking to myself at all, just half heartily watching a movie, when I was interrupted by a voice in my head, loud and clear! What I heard wouldn’t have made any sense expect for a conversation that was happing on the screen. It startled me and I rewound the movie to hear what they said. I don’t care if you believe me or not, my Mom answers a question that was asked by a character in that movie! I was so happy I cried and laughed… it was my Mom I know it was.

Sorry, I’m not going to tell you what it was. But I’ll tell you this, I heard it again as I began to wake the next morning. The same answer, but it felt like it was to a different question.

Today I saw Nancy again, and I told her about it. I told her this time I’m sure it was my Mom. I told her I wish it were my Mom’s voice, I want to hear her voice. And Nancy, bless her beautiful heart, said “Lenore your Mom speaks through you not to you. She has no physical being any longer, no body to see or touch and no voice to hear.” She also said something to the effect that she’s not in a form we can understand and for now this is her way to reach us.

As I think about my Mom’s words and what Nancy said today, on this the second month anniversary of her death, I know now for sure I found her, she’s here and she told me something very important…

How about this, I’ll tell you Mom’s answer but not the question. The question doesn’t matter, because what she said answers so many questions for me.

The answer is “It never ends.”

I know this is true… Mom said so.

The Writing and Dining Out Group

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The Writing and Eating GroupThis is a group of my mom’s friends who got together every month for lunch and writing critique-ing. These dear friends are Cheryl Stark, Phyllis Malcolm and Trish Astbury. Speaking to them over the years (at her home, sometimes during hospital visits and eventually at my Mom’s funeral), it was very clear how much they loved my Mom.

I think they said that they met in a writing class at Cal State Fullerton and began as a study group. They just kept on meeting long after the class was over.

This collection of photos was from a trip they took to Coronado together. This framed collage is from a wall in my mom’s kitchen. I think it was a gift from her friends.