Today is my mother's birthday. It's been over 11 years since she passed away at the age of 50 - and I still miss her every day. Today, for some reason, I don't feel sad, like I have in years past. Today, I feel more contemplative and grateful to have had the chance to have such an incredible woman as my mother, at all, because I know not everyone was that lucky.
A few years ago, while we were going through her things, we found a folder of writings that she had collected over the years. They were short stories of her life, and of ours. They were thoughts and memories, things she had written along the way, and in one very powerful case, her testimony she gave at a church function of how her faith was bringing her through the loss of her parents and her battle with cancer, the first time she was diagnosed. In her memory, I share that with you below.
If you want to see the collection of her writings, you can see them at: http://dianejenkinsjerseyslicesoflife.blogspot.com. I had them made into a book, and gave them out to family for Christmas presents back in 2007. She was an incredible woman - probably the best woman I'll ever have the honor of knowing, and today, I am grateful for the fact that she took the time to write down her thoughts on faith, and memories of her life. In her absence, it is a powerful way to stay connected to her and continued to be parented by her, as I continue my journey.
Good morning. My name is Diane Jersey. Our family moved here four years ago from Annapolis, Maryland. My husband, Dave works for UPS in Philadelphia. My daughter, Jeannine, is a freshman at Penn State – main campus. My son, Kevin, is a senior at East High School. My daughter, Jessica, is in seventh grade at Fugett Middle School.
I am the fourth of five daughters, originally from Kansas City. My dad’s job with the FAA required us to relocate every year that I was in elementary school. I don’t remember this as being too difficult or traumatic. We always became involved in a local church, wherever we settled.
The church was an anchor in our lives. I really appreciated that spiritual foundation, more than ever this past year. Without my faith in God, and the support of my church and family, I don’t know how I could have made it through this year.
In August of 1993, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My treatment would include 3 months of chemotherapy, a modified radical mastectomy, 3 more months of chemotherapy and then, 6 weeks of radiation. Prior to treatment, I had a bone scan, heart scan, chest x-ray and various blood tests. Each test came out clear! This gave us hope that the cancer was localized. Praise the Lord!
As people began to hear of my illness, wonderful things happened. I received cards, flowers, food and phone calls from all over the country. There was such an outpouring of love and support that I couldn’t help but feel uplifted. My husband accompanied me to every test, doctor appointment and treatment. I believe he would have gone in my place, if that would have been possible. I will always be grateful for his support.
Alan Brown came and prayed with us at the hospital on the day of my biopsy. He, Barbara and Pat also stayed in frequent contact throughout my treatment. Always encouraging and cheerful, they visited me after my surgery, as well.
I can count many blessings throughout this year. My medical insurance is certainly something to be grateful for! My team of doctors is all thoroughly competent, and wonderfully upbeat and compassionate individuals. My neighbors and friends provided countless meals, phone calls and cards of encouragement.
There were many times that God was obviously at work in my life this past year. For example, during chemotherapy, if your white blood count goes very low, you are vulnerable to infection, which may require hospitalization for IV antibiotics. During one cycle, I was precariously close to being hospitalized. My fever inched up and up. Coincidentally, my Bible Study Group from Annapolis was meeting that evening. They called to see how I was doing and promised to pray that my fever would go down. Almost immediately, it did! Never doubt the power of prayer!
Another unexpected occurrence was the need for a blood transfusion. My red blood cells were not strong enough to sustain me through surgery. Although my husband and daughter were willing to donate blood on my behalf – they are both A-positive. I needed O-positive blood. The rest of my family lives in Texas, so their help was not an option. Without a moment’s hesitation, one of my oncology nurses donated blood for me that very day. We contacted Alan Brown, here at Grove, and within hours, he had recruited additional donors from our church. Words cannot express my gratitude to those people! I felt so much better with my new blood!
My mother passed away the day after Thanksgiving in San Antonio, Texas. Once again, God was working my life. I was at a good point in my treatment, so I was able to attend her funeral. On of my mother’s friends, who she affectionately called her “Guardian Angel” whispered to me at the service, that she knew about my “little problem” and would continue to pray for me. I was deeply touched.
Without a doubt, this has been the most challenging year in my life. However, it has also been the most faith affirming. No matter what has happened. God has provided the strength and grace to get through it. One of my favorite Bible verses is “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto thine own understanding.” I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I do know that God will guide me through it all.
Amen, Mom. Amen.