Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Who I Run For: Mom-Mom

As Wednesdays seem pretty boring running wise, I figured I'd switch it up a bit and make it Who I Run For Wednesdays. My first one honored is my grandmother prominently known as Mom-Mom, MiMi or Muriel. Almost all of my friends just refer to her as Mom-Mom as she is just that legendary.

A little background on Mom-Mom, born in 1921 to immigrant parents, she was the youngest by years. She still to this day is convinced that she was a surprise due to the age difference of her two sister and no one has doubted it. Mom-Mom was a pretty awesome lady in her youth and ended up being the life of the party and a bit of a social butterfly. She ended up married later in life and had my mom when she was 30. She was a working women throughout her years. Her husband, my grandfather, succumbed to lung cancer when my mom was only in 4th or 5th grade. Mom-Mom went on a cruise where she met her second husband Aaron. Mom-Mom moved over to helping run his oil business and continued on working. Aaron also was diagnosed with cancer which forced my parents to move up their wedding so he could walk her down the aisle. He died months later in 1972. By the age of 51, this lady had watched two husbands be diagnosed with cancer and pass away from the disease, but it didn't let her get down in the dumps

As a child, Mom-Mom seemed so glamorous and exotic. Gifts would be brought back from far away trips from countries I had never heard about. She also drove a 70something pale blue boat. Literally, you could see her coming from miles away when she came to pick me up from school. Coupled with her love of hitting up the casinos, playing canasta and working with the girls. She built up an amazing group of friends with hilarious stories. The stories I could tell you that I have learned over the years would make people laugh and are probably not fit for blog consumption.

When I was in high school, Mom-Mom was diagnosed with colon cancer. Luckily, the detection and treatment had advanced significantly since the loss of her two husbands and her doctors were able to diagnose at an early stage and aggressively treat the colon cancer. Of course, I could never show my face in the store that she accidentally drove right through after passing out after chemo one day, but that is another story. She fought and beat cancer like a champ. This past year, she had another fight with cancer, this time with skin cancer. They caught it early and yet again she was a trooper. Luckily, we took away her license years ago so there were no store front issues!

This past summer, her friends and family gathered around to celebrate her 90th birthday. Flying in for it was a treat and seeing her in her element was even better. You see, about 5 years ago she moved into the Jewish Home for the Aging. As she was before, Mom-Mom is a social butterfly there with activities and social time scheduled every day all day. Mom-Mom is a known staple in that part from the staff right down to the gentleman callers. She is a tour guide, in a canasta and maj jong group, sings for the choir (check out her youtube video), and is an avid knitter in the arts and crafts classes. She makes sure to call me after every race congratulating me on winning (even though I never have) and has outfitted me with enough scarves to survive 100 New England winters. She is having a blast at 90 and not letting her history of cancer get in the way. She is a survivor!

In my eyes, my grandmother is one of the strongest fighters I know. She was able to grieve the loss of both husbands, be a single mother as a result to cancer and successfully twice overcome it herself. If in my life, I find even half the strength she has in her life, I will feel lucky. Heck, I am just lucky to call her my grandmother and with pride "win a medal" for her.

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