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Marilyn’s Remarkable Journey
In 2011, Thomas received news that would change his life forever. His mother, Marilyn, had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Facing the loss of a parent is one of the most painful rights of passage life has to offer, one almost all of us will have to endure.
Marilyn’s diagnosis started a journey that would be marked by both miracles and hardships. Marilyn’s story demonstrates the true power of family and how any one of us can defy overwhelming odds. The following paragraphs were written by Marilyn’s son, Thomas and have not been edited in any way. The video you will see is also unaltered.
(Memorial photos of Marilyn)
My mother, Marilyn Christen Smith (Davis) was diagnosed with Stage 4 Colon Cancer in April of 2011 that had spread to her liver and was given 6 months to live. She was determined not to become just another statistic, so she fought harder than I’ve ever seen her fight before and outlived the doctor’s prognosis by years.
She did have a little extra motivation for the final few months when things were most difficult for her. On October 21st, my wife (Terri) and I took my mom out to dinner for her 68th and final birthday. As a gift, we handed her a card that included the first sonogram of her grandbaby. When she opened the card, she paused, looked up at us with eyes beginning to well, and exclaimed “Really?!” and then proceeded to burst into tears of joy. She had waited so long for her first born to give her a grandbaby. She then gathered herself and said with more determination than I’ve ever seen from her before and said “I’m going to meet him.” She knew deep in her heart that it was a boy before any of us could have known.
Fast forward to May 12th, 2014, the day our son is born. He was born at 6:23 am that morning and after I showed him to Terri, he was taken to the nursery to be cleaned up. At this moment while I’m standing next to him, I call my mother to let her know her grandson was here. He started crying while I was talking to her and she said, “Is that him? Oh, my sweet baby!” while choking back the tears. A couple hours later, after 7 additional months of experimental medication, my mother came marching into Richardson Methodist Hospital with her best friend of 40 years by her side providing just enough support to help her make that walk all the way to our room. It was then she got to meet her grandson Davis Lloyd Jefferson Smith who was named in her honor. I asked if she was a happy grandma and she said while looking into his eyes, “Happy grandma, I’m a really happy grandma.”
Here is the video of that special moment:
She was able to have 4 really good visits with Davis during the months of May and June along with a 5th and final visit on June 21st from her hospice bed. She was too weak to hold him anymore, but she sat there looking at him and touching his little arms and told us, “May was such a wonderful month…God granted my final wish.”
(Marilyn holding her grandson for the first time)
One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life was sit there helplessly while I watch my mom slowly pass away. Every day that passed took a little more of her away from me. I was there as much as I could be that final week, but I wish it was more. I guess I cannot be greedy because I received 2 ½ more blessed years with my mother that I wasn’t expecting. It was my goal during all those bi-monthly trips to Texas Oncology in Grapevine to make those trips as enjoyable as possible for my mother whether it was cracking jokes or taking her to lunch afterwards in order to get her mind off things. She sacrificed so much for me over the years, that it was the least I could do for her.
Now, I will leave you with a letter I wrote to her minutes after she passed away:
You passed away on a Sunday, but your love and embrace will be felt forever.
I cannot begin to express just how much you mean to me and just how appreciative I am for all the sacrifices you made for me and JR. We were so blessed to have had such a strong, sweet, and gentle woman for a mother that played both parental roles to perfection. You were always there for us and always had the right words to comfort our hearts no matter how major or insignificant the issue. You dedicated every moment of your life to us and we are forever grateful for your unconditional and everlasting love. The best way I can think to honor you is to take the values you taught us and pass them along to our sons. I hope and pray that I can be just half the parent you were because you set a precedent that will be tough to follow. I’m up to the challenge just as you always were.
Your battle with cancer over the last 3 years was nothing short of courageous and inspiring to us. When the doctors told you 6 months, you were determined to prove them all wrong.l. You fought so hard these last few months knowing you would hold a new grandson in your arms and I am so thankful we could make that happen for you. I already miss you terribly, and love you deeply, but I take comfort in knowing that I will see you again one day. When my time comes, your “Little T” will come running home into your arms.
(Marilyn holding her son, Thomas, 1978)
Love you forever,
Chronic Disease Fund
The Chronic Disease Fund paid for my mother’s experimental cancer medication when she had no other options and insurance refused to assist. She was able to live long enough to meet her grandson Davis, because of this amazing charity. I cannot imagine a better way to honor my mother than to find a way to allow her to help another ill grandmother meet her grandbaby. If you are interested in helping this wonderful organization by making a small donation, please visit, www.cdfund.org and visit their “Donate Now” section.
The Family’s Hospice Experience
Marilyn received hospice care for eight days at Community Hospice of Texas, although her doctor recommended that she enroll earlier. Before his mother’s illness, neither Thomas or his family understood what hospice was. He, like many others, simply looked at hospice as the place you go to die. After his experience with hospice, he now thinks positively of the hospice community, and understands the true value of the services they provide.
Marilyn with sons – Thomas (left) and James (right)
Marilyn was fortunate enough to have support from her whole family. Thomas’s brother, James, lived with Marilyn during her time of illness - a vital component of her care. Hospice provided Thomas’s entire family with some priceless assurances. Although they were facing extreme emotional hardship, they were able to take comfort in the fact that with help from their hospice provider, they knew their mother wasn’t in pain.
Marilyn wanted to pass peacefully at home. With the support from her loving family and her hospice team, she got her wish.
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