My mother passed away on Saturday, December 21, 2013 from cancer. She dedicated her whole life to taking care of others from caring for children with special needs, to creating a children's church program for over 30 years, to running a home daycare, to working in missions in Mexico, to being a "grandma" to over 1000 children as a foster grandparent at an early childhood school for PreK students. In fact, at the age of 79, she volunteered in 5 PreK classrooms each week for 6 hours a day, working with students and just being "Grandma Ruth" to those children who needed a little extra care, time, and assistance - even as she began radiation for tumors in her brain. Even though I struggled with her desire to continue working with children as she fought her battle, I had to respect and admire her decision to continue making the difference in the lives of countless little children.
So as sad as I am that she is now gone, I am happy with the legacy she left behind. I will continue that legacy. She would tell me to keep on making a difference. Keep on caring for others. Keep on being a cheerleader and advocate for those who take care of our children. For in fact, she was the biggest cheerleader in my life for becoming a teacher. I was the first in my family to graduate from college. She cheered me on. I had a child born with special needs. She cheered me on. I myself was diagnosed with cancer 20 years ago. She cheered me on. I finally graduated with my degree as an early childhood teacher. She cheered me on. I became a National Board Certified Teacher. She cheered me on. I graduated with my master's degree in special education. She cheered me on. I decided to record my own songs for children. She cheered me on. I decided to start presenting at national conferences. She cheered me on (even though she disliked me flying "all over the place"). Her last words to me were "I love you so, so much. You are so beautiful. Will you be good?" Yes, Mom. I will be good. I will miss you. But I will continue on knowing you are still cheering me on in heaven.
Mom, I love you dearly. I thank God that he chose you to be my mother. I thank God for the many, many children who were able to call you "Grandma Ruth." And I thank God that he gave me the same passion. After all, I had the greatest role model.
Happy New Year to my many "blogging friends" and to those who also make a difference in the lives of children.