Monday, October 5, 2009

Becoming Aware


Feeling Helpless
When it had become apparent that my mother-in-law, Linda Jo Pointer was beginning  to get sicker and sicker with breast cancer and that the chemo wasn't working [for the umpteenth time], we had a conversation that left me feeling so totally helpless [which is something that I don't like].  My son was just a baby and my daughter had just had her 2nd birthday.  While on the phone with her, I was watching my daughter play on the floor with her toys and my son was laying down on the floor on a blanket drooling and cooing.

I Won't Let Them Forget
We had a conversation that I really didn't want to have, but knew that it was necessary.  She said, "I'm not afraid to die.  I know that this 'beast' is going to get me."  ["Beast" was her nickname for breast cancer.]  She went on to say, "...the one thing that upsets me is that my grandkids won't remember me."  With tears in my eyes, I looked at her grandkids.  I then replied with false bravado [hoping that she couldn't "hear" me holding back my tears], "Don't worry.  I won't let them forget."  Several months later on October 28, 1999, Linda passed away, leaving her disease-ridden body for her eternal one that would know no pain and no tears.

Remembering...A Steel Magnolias Moment
Of course, I knew at the time what she meant.  She meant that they wouldn't have memories of her, and I knew that I wouldn't be able to control that [much to my chagrin].  However, my husband and I have tried our best over the years to bring grandma up at every moment possible.  We talk about her and how much she loved the color purple, and how much she loved angels.  We always say at birthdays and holidays how much grandma would've loved being here experiencing it with them.  Also, we have photos of her displayed throughout the house.

I shared on Mother's Day a short story about my daughter ~ my Steel Magnolia's moment:

One of my favorite all-time chick movies is "Steel Magnolias" because of the display of friendship and family. However, I think my favorite scene is towards the end when the mother, Sally Field's character, is crying after her daughter's funeral, then she gets angry and says she wants to hit something. This is the point [of course] when you can't stop the tears from falling from your eyes, and just when you think you can't take anymore, Olympia Dukakis' character grabs Shirley McLain's character and replies, "Here, hit her." And suddenly you're laughing through your tears...comic relief...a release...

This is my mother-in-law, Linda Jo. She was the single best mother-in-law in the whole world, and I don't have to meet any of the others to know this. She loved her family, friends, dogs, kids, people, anything purple, and angels. I don't know exactly how the whole angels thing started. She was a hairdresser, and I think it began when one of her clients gave her an angel. It caught on, and soon thereafter all she received were angels for gifts for every occasion.

Linda fought a valiant fight against breast cancer. Though her body is gone, her spirit is alive and doing well [thank you very much]. Her spirit is in her her grandkids...Soon after she died, my husband was cleaning out her condo while I was at home with the kids [my son was just 6 months old]. I was changing my son's diaper while my daughter was standing on the bed watching. My husband called and asked what he should do with all of his mom's clothes [she had a ton of them]. I suggested he donate them, and then we hung up, both of us with heavy hearts. My daughter [two and a half at the time] was silent for a little while then she asked, "Mom, is grandma naked in heaven?" Obviously she had overheard our conversation, and I couldn't let her have an image of her grandma naked in heaven...So I replied, "No. No, honey. Grandma is not naked in heaven. She's wearing a long flowing purple robe." My daughter jumped off the bed and ran off to play, relieved that grandma was not naked in heaven. own "Steel Magnolias" moment!
My kids may not technically "remember" grandma, but they do know her ~ it's the best that my husband and I could do.

Some Things Are Better Left In History
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Do something this month to become aware or to make others aware of breast cancer.  In the top right-hand corner of my blog is a "button".  Everytime it's clicked, a donation is made by a sponsor for a woman who can't afford a mammogram, and your cost?  A click.  That's it.  If you have a blog, a "button" for your blog can be found on their site:  Make people aware.  Also, if you're on Twitter or Facebook, breast cancer awareness Twibbons can be found here:

Let's make breast cancer a part of history and not a part of family history!

The "Grandma" design was made by Caroline Pointer.  The angel was drawn by Linda's granddaughter.


  1. What a wonderful tribute to your mother-in-law.

  2. Caroline

    This is one of the best genealogy blog posts I've read in a long time. Granted it required me to stop and ponder - but that's what a good post does.

    What you've written and experienced is proof that we truly are guided by the spirit of those family members we knew and loved but are no longer here in the physical world.

  3. Thank you! Thank you! For reminding us all to "Be Aware."

    Posts like this are the perfect example of why your blog was nominated as one of Family Tree Magazines 40 Best Blogs.

    Your writing, the stories are without question the best.


  4. This was a wonderful tribute to Linda Jo. So very touching. I am deeply moved.

  5. [via e-mail]

    Hey Caroline,

    We still have the fondest memories of Linda and walked in Race For The Cure yesterday in her memory. 54,000 people registered and came out. It was a sea of pink. It was awesome. With one in eight women diagnosed at some point in their lives, I don't think there is anyone that hasn't been touched. Great post and great way to honor her memory. We miss her!


  6. [via Facebook]

    Margaret Ann Tull commented on your post:

    "Great article Caroline. I know Linda must have been a super Mother in love to you- it came through in your article."

  7. What a beautiful work you've done here and a lovely tribute to Linda. Great post!

  8. Looking for the Pointer family where abouts lead me here today. I did not expect to see what I read! I can see Linda's smile and hear her laugh and remember a good friendship that began across a hall in a duplex in Slater, Iowa. She was a blessing to my family and I am sure she was a blessing to many more. May your relationship with the Lord continue to grow so you see her in heaven.
    Thanks Caroline sharing your story.


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