This past week, my cousin Betty died after an exquisitely brief battle with cancer. She was 77 and leaves her children, grandchildren, friends, neighbors and extended family members missing her. Even her dog, Maisey, misses her.
At her funeral mass, the priest remarked that "the measure of a life well lived is not measured in the deeds one has done, but in how much and how well one has loved." Like many of our greatest generation, there is no doubt that Betty's life was well lived.
It was clear in the last weeks of her life how much she had loved her children, her sons-in-law and her grandchildren. And how very much they loved her. Susie, Debbie and Tommy cared for her, tended to her, talked and laughed with her. And when Betty said she wanted a party, a party she got, replete with soft pretzels, Coors Light, a Mummers' window serenade (thanks to Jimmy, her son-in-law) and tee-shirts that read, "Betty's Kitchen," in honor of her Friday night get-togethers with her girlfriends. She was in good spirits that night and she got to see and talk with many of her friends and family. Though bittersweet, it will be a lasting great memory for me of Betty.
After that party, her children never left her side and as the reality of losing her crept steadily closer, they displayed amazing strength and resilience as they administered medications and rendered care night and day. And Betty, knowing that she would soon be leaving them, told them how much she loved them, told them she was not afraid. One night, as they all sat with her at her bedside, remarked "what a pretty picture this is" when she opened her eyes and looked at them.
I know how heartbreakingly painful it is to watch your mom succumb to cancer. But I also know that to be there, to be present, to make her comfortable, to do all that you can for her during her most vulnerable time, is one of the greatest gifts that we as daughters and sons can give. Betty was loved, that's for sure. And she will be forever missed.