Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy


Today will be different and it will be a first for me. I usually stick to posting about real estate market updates or Fountain Hills and Phoenix area happenings and events so I really don’t know why I felt compelled to write this post, but I did, so here it is.

I am a sentimental person. My family and close friends know this about me. It is possible some of my Facebook friends are aware of this as well since I reveal a little of myself on there from time to time, but never here on this blog.

Certain days of the year trigger days of reflection and more often that not, sadness for me. Mother’s Day is one of those days for me.

My parents were divorced when I was 3 years old. My mother was a single mom raising 2 young daughters in the early 70’s, not an easy thing to do. I was rebellious and quite a handful in my teenage years. I gave my mom more than her fair share of stress, worry, and aggravation. Despite my wayward behavior, she always loved me and encouraged me no matter what. Somehow I managed to graduate from college and buy my first condo in my 20’s. In my 30’s I finally settled down (somewhat) and was becoming what she always wanted me to be; an adult that was able to take care of myself and be self-supporting.  We grew very close. I know she was proud of me because she told me so, often.

My mom


My mom was diagnosed with 3rd stage breast cancer in 1998. The cancer had spread to 8 of her lymph nodes as well.  She had a radical mastectomy followed by months of chemo therapy, and then radiation. She would go for treatments in the morning, then going straight to work after. She was in retail sales which meant standing on her feet for hours and hours after her treatments.  She never complained, she just did it. She was a rock. I envied her strength. She passed the 5 year milestone mark and her oncologist said she was cancer free.

On a trip with my mom to visit Sedona after she finished her rounds of treatment

In 2004, she decided to celebrate her life, retire early, and move to Scottsdale, AZ. I came out with her in April to help her move in and get settled. I came out again to visit a few months later for the July 4th holiday weekend. Something wasn’t right. She was tired and running really high fevers of 106 -107. I stayed a few extra days. She promised me she would go see a doctor and have tests run to see what was going on. In late August of that year after several visits to different doctors with no conclusion, they finally ran a CAT scan. They found that the breast cancer had returned. It had metastasized to her bones, spine, spleen and liver. The prognosis was grim.

Mom at her new house in Scottsdale

I couldn’t imagine life without my mom. Within a matter of weeks I had quit my job, sold my condo, and moved to Arizona so I could be with her. She found a young oncologist in Scottsdale that started her on an aggressive cocktail consisting of 3 different types of chemotherapy. She completed chemotherapy and she had responded very well to that round of treatment. Again, she never complained. Again, I was reminded of how strong she was.

Her cancer wasn’t going away, but it wasn’t spreading either. It was good news. The best news you could hope for given the situation. We were able to spend time together, take trips, and enjoy a few more really good years together. Inevitably, the cancer started to grow again. She did treatments, but in the end, cancer won. She passed away in March of 2008.

The last Thanksgiving in AZ with my mom

Her death changed my perspective and thoughts about life profoundly. I was never a religious person, even less so since her passing. I don’t believe there is a heaven or a hell. What I do believe in is keeping my memories of her alive. I believe I carry a piece of her inside of me and that it comes through in my thoughts and my actions. Sometimes I speak to her in my head. I know she won’t respond, but it brings me comfort.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy. I love you, miss you, and I will think of you every day until my last day on this earth.

This entry is cross posted on Phoenix NE Valley: Real Estate, Lifestyle & Living

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About the Author
Michele Guss

Michele Guss is a REALTOR with Realty ONE Group, serving the Phoenix East Valley. Originally from Washington, D.C. (and still loves her Redskins!), now an AZ girl and an avid hiker. When she is not providing world-class service to her real estate clients she can often be found hiking, climbing and crawling over, on and through trails in Arizona's mountains and deserts.

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