93. That's the number of years that great-aunt Theresa graced this earth. It seems like a long time, and of course, it IS a long time However, to us, when she passed away yesterday morning, it's still too soon to lose a loved one. We have long-life spans in my family. My grandparents were an average age of 83 when they left this earth (ok, don't double check my math, family members, I did that in my head, so it might be off by a bit, but it's close enough.)
That's not to say that we can take things for granted or just assume we will life a long life. And certainly, those long lives come with a lot of work to sustain yourselves.
Take both of my Grandmas for example. On the health side, Caroline had high blood pressure. I was always amazed how good she was at sniffing out salt. She avoided it like the plague because it wasn't good for her. Seems like a simple thing, but you have no idea how much salt is in stuff until you really look. She was a master at it. But on the side of being strong, ah Sweet Caroline. If she is not the testament to strength and a positive attitude, no one is. She lost her father at a young age, lost a sister Julia, when she was young, and she buried my uncle way too soon! I remember as a kid, I would see her walking to Church every day after Uncle Bill died. I am sure she was praying for him, praying for strength and praying for all of us. She coped with some of the biggest heartaches in life. I need to learn from her. As many of you know, if you asked her how she was doing, she would say "better and better". It was beautiful and simple. Each day, you get better, you get stronger. And when you have a rough day, remember it will get better. If her life kept getting better, so can mine. If she could get over her hurdles, so can I.
And Mildred, as you may already know, fought cancer (not what I have) for about 20 years in the later part of her life. She bravely took treatments even into her 80s. She never complained. Only took tylenol to manage her pain. And she never let it defeat her spirit. She kept going. I now understand how hard it was for her, how scared she was, and how strong. I pray every day to be like she was. And how I wish she was here for our daily 5 pm phone calls to tell me how to do this. The best I can do is know that she is here in spirit, and try to remember as much as I can on how she pushed through it. I know there are so many other survivors who have been tremendous support to me. I am blessed to have them. But none will be Gram.
That's ok though. I know what she would say. She would say I have to do what I have to do. She would say that I have to keep laughing, and I can never give up. And she would also tell me how lucky I am to have great doctors because they make all the difference in the world. She would tell me that if something is in my control, then I should do whatever it take, and for those that aren't in my control, have faith and just stay positive and hope for the best. I am sure she would buy me "Krispy" crackers for my chemo days and meatball soup for the days when I want to eat. And she would probably tell me to wear my wig because sometimes you have to make yourself look good in order to feel better.
I have a lot of legacy to live up to. And anyone who knows me knows that I always fight to live up to expectations. This fight is no different than getting my degree, getting my Masters, or getting the job that I wanted for years, sometimes the uphill climb may not feel worth it, but it is. You just have to keep plugging along, and doing what you must.