Most people call her Sylvia, a few people call her Grammie and a handful of people call her Great-Grammie but I call her Mom. I am writing this story today at her request because she is hoping that other people will be inspired by her action. The request was surprising as she is a humble person who usually avoids accolades. This story is about her generosity but she does not want praise. She merely wants to encourage people to do what she did.
Sylvia knows a thing or two about Cancer. It is an ugly word and an uglier disease. She watched her father died of Cancer. Her sister died of Cancer. Her mother died of cancer. Her husband fought Cancer and won. So did her daughter. Sylvia herself engaged in battle against Cancer. She won Round 1 and was hoping that Cancer would not dare to attack her again. Sylvia was wrong. Round 2 has begun and it is uglier than Round 1.
The thing about Cancer is that it does not fight fair. It can sneak up on you silently and then knock you down before you know what hit you. There were some dark days when Cancer knocked Sylvia down and then kept kicking her while she was lying there defenseless. My siblings and I thought she would never get back up but she eventually did get up and decided to try to fight this villain again.
I wish I had enough words to tell you about Sylvia. She is mentally strong, generous, selfless, stubborn, caring, compassionate and so much more. She is a skilled seamstress and for years has donated many of her projects to charities. I can’t even tell you how many quilts she has made for women’s shelters, or headscarves for cancer patients, etc, etc etc.
Everyone thinks their mom is the best cook in the world and I am no exception. There is not a coconut cream pie in the world to rival hers. If a neighbor is sick, Sylvia was right there with a pot of soup or homemade bread. Now it is her turn to be on the receiving end of the community’s generosity. At first she struggled with that because she knew she could not reciprocate, but now she has learned to simply say thank you.
I am sharing this picture of Sylvia with her husband Merrill on their 60th Anniversary. It is not her best picture but it is a picture that is powerful if you know what you are looking at. For several weeks she had extremely low energy and chronic pain. We were unsure about whether to celebrate, or how to celebrate. In the end, Sylvia consented to a large community party because she knew that Merrill would enjoy it. Only a few of us knew how much it would deplete her energy reserves. Take a good look at her hair. It is pinned up so you can’t see how long it is, but by the following week it would be shorn.
In the midst of her illness Sylvia is still thinking of others. The day before she began radiation treatment she asked me to cut her hair. She knew that it was going to fall out and she wanted to donate it to the Cancer society. What a poignant moment when I cut her ponytails and put them in a Ziploc bag. Her hair was beautiful and thick and soft… and brown. She always wears her hair up, and her front locks are silver so I thought that all of her hair was gray. Besides, my own hair is generously gray so it would be logical to assume that hers is too. How can my mother’s hair be less gray than my own??
Look at that hair. She looks like a young person.
And there is my Dad watching us. Hi, Dad!
I don’t have an after picture. The haircut was horrible because I didn’t have the proper tools, and I had just ran a Half Marathon and drove 4 hours afterwards, and she has some beasty cowlicks that are very uncooperative. I know…. excuses, excuses ! I just hope her hair falls out quickly before anyone sees it.
Do you think my Mom’s hair make me look younger ? The color doesn’t quite match up, but I did consider keeping it for myself. I wasn’t sure how to attach it though. Besides that would be selfish, and Sylvia would not like that.
This is what Sylvia wants you to do.. grow your hair, cut your hair and donate it to the Cancer Society. They use it to make wigs for cancer patients. It’s easy. Put your ponytail in a Ziploc bag and deliver to your local Cancer Society.
Be like Sylvia.