Monday, September 15, 2014

THE BIG C HOP....LET'S CUT ON CANCER...

Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the BIG C BLOG HOP!




Today we are sharing our stories of humor, inspiration, and determination against the dreaded BIG C, CANCER...

I don't believe I know anyone who hasn't been affected by this dreaded disease in one form or another. 

Today, I am co-hosting this hop with my friend, and fellow blogger, Melissa Bradley. She has been recently diagnosed with malignant cancer and she and I are hosting the hop. All entries will be collected and featured in an anthology to come out soon. Proceeds will help Melissa with her medical and living expenses and a portion will all go to Gilda's Club Chicago, an organization helping woman fight endometrial, cervical, and ovarian cancers.

I would like to dedicate this story to my mom, who was a survivor of Hodgkin's disease. May her story bring a smile to those who really need it!

A Bronx bombshell in the early 1950's, Rose Marie De Luca wasn't like most women of post WWII, who were content on marrying young and setting up a home for their returning military boyfriends. Far more than a pretty face, she graduated community college with an associates in accounting, and soon interviewed for a job at a top nursing home in NYC, owned by a German immigrant. 

Most American's were prejudiced against the German people and would never consider working for one. But, Miss De Luca was too smart to fall for such narrow-minded thinking. She found the man intelligent and charming.

With skills far more advanced than her age, she became administrator of all four of his nursing homes after her third year.

One night after work, her boss called out to her, "Do you have a moment, Miss De Luca." He smiled.

"Why yes, Mr. Wagner."

"Rolf. Please. I think it is time for us to be on a first name basis." He glanced down, shifting his eyes to the side. "Would you do me the honor of accompanying me to dinner tomorrow night?"

"I'm not sure it's a good idea. You are my boss, and I..."

"I have admired you from the first day you stepped into my office."

"You have? Then why did you wait so long? It's been three years."

"You were so young. And I thought my age would scare you away. You are older now and I know you are not dating anyone special."

She nodded. "No. Not really. I have no time to date. You make sure of that." She looked up and smiled.

He burst out laughing. "True."

"Tomorrow night then?" He locked his dark brown eyes on hers.

She blushed. "Yes."


 *     *     *    *    *

A romance blossomed. NYC's top restaurants and clubs featured this dynamic couple. Winter melted into Spring, and the Summer heat sizzled with rides to the sun-drenched Jersey shore. Soft breezes caressed moonlit strolls as conversations spoke of marriage and an extravagant honeymoon in Europe in the not so distant future. 

But upon their return in late August, Rolf learned of his mother's weakened condition. She was diagnosed with cancer and died just before Christmas. 

Devastated, Rolf took up drinking and contracted an ulcer.  As his stomach pains increased so did his belief the cause was from cancer. His obsessive hypochondria soon put a wedge in their relationship. 

Young and full of life, Rose Marie could no longer accept Rolf's behavior.

On a balmy night in June, Rose Marie, dressed to the nines, with a hint of Chanel No. 5 trailing each step, swept through the corridors past Rolf's office. 

His silver temples shone in a sea of pitch as he raised his head from the desk. The corners of his mouth shifted up as he said, "You look lovely tonight, my dear. I've must have forgotten our date. I'll just be a moment."

Pink blushed her cheeks and flecks of emerald sparked in her hazel eyes. "We didn't have date. I've made other plans."  

He furrowed his brows. "Where are you going?"

"To a dance."

"A dance. Without me?"

"Yes. It's been six months since your mother died and you are not the same man anymore...it's like you died along with her."

"You know how close we were. And I think I have cancer, too."

"So that means there's no future for us? I want to marry and have a family."

"You know how I feel about having children. If I die..."

"Enough, Rolf! I'm leaving."

"Let me come with you! Please."

"My aunt invited me to the VFW in queens and I'm going alone."

She slammed the door to his office and rushed out of the building. The echoes of clicking heels haunted the empty corridor.


*     *    *     *     *     *    *

Many uniformed soldiers flocked around Rose Marie like bees to honey. A close friend of her aunt's charmed his way into the fold. 

Sgt. Mike Di Gesu flashed a brilliant smile at Rose Marie and soon swept her off her feet and onto the dance floor. After the second Lindy hop, an elegant hand tapped Mike's shoulder, he turned and Rose Marie's eyes doubled in size.

"May I please cut in. I am Rose Marie's fiancé"

Mike's shoulders tensed. "Her what!" His head snapped toward Rose Marie. "You're engaged?"

With a cool demeanor, she raised her left hand. "Do you see a ring on my finger?"

Mike scratched his head. "No." He turned to Rolf.

"It is not official but we've been dating for over a year."

"Rolf, would you please leave. It's over between us."

Rolf stiffened. "We will drive to Maryland tonight and get married."

"No, Rolf. I'm staying here. Please go."

He paled and lowered his head. "If that is what you wish."



*     *    *     *     *     *    *

Rose Marie returned to work the following Monday. On her desk, a turquoise box tied up with a pale blue ribbon sat waiting to be opened. A crisp, white envelope laid next to it.

With trembling fingers she opened the envelope.

Marry me ...

R

She untied the bow, and lifted out the black velvet box.  A perfect, Tiffany set, three carat diamond reflected a kaleidoscope of rainbow colors onto the walls.

A tear streamed down her face. She gently closed the box. She inhaled a deep breath, sat down at her desk, and typed her resignation...

Three months later her engagement to Mike was announced. They married in February of 1957. Her dream of the perfect honeymoon in Europe was just that...a dream.

Rose Marie continued to work in the city after she married.
Mike sensed something was wrong. He knew his bride loved another. He took up gambling and tried to buy her love, but he failed miserably only getting deeper into debt. By the time their third son was crawling, Rose Marie filed separation papers.

Begging for a second chance, Mike finally persuaded her. For the next twenty-three years they raised their three boys together. At their youngest son's college graduation, She handed him a thick envelope. 

"I can't believe you're going to Europe before me." 

Beaming, Michael lowers his head and hugs his mom. "Don't worry, Mom. I'll take you next year. I promise."

Rose Marie couldn't wait. She decided to go on a diet to prepare for the trip she had dreamed about her whole life. Her son wouldn't let her down. His modeling career was taking off and she knew she'd see her beloved Italy soon. 

Six months later, and forty pounds thinner, Rose Marie discovered a lump in her groin. 

The doctor diagnosed it as a hernia and scheduled surgery the following month...

As Rose Marie woke, the doctor stepped closer to her. His usually smooth face was etched with worry lines.

"Hi, Doctor. Did everything go alright?" Rose Marie asked in a groggy voice.

He cleared his throat and took a deep breath, exhaling slowly. "I'm afraid I have bad news. I misdiagnosed your condition. I found a mass and it's cancerous. I need to do a few more tests..." he swallowed hard. "If it's lymphoma, you'll only have a few years if you're lucky."

Rose Marie blinked her eyes feverishly. "Did I hear you right? Two years?" She stared right though him. "If you think for one moment I am not going to collect my Social Security after  working for forty years...you are grossly mistaken." 

The doctor burst out laughing. "With that attitude, you've already beaten it." He beamed. "Keep it up. You're an inspiration to us all."

*     *    *     *     *     *    *


My mom did keep up that attitude. She went through radiation therapy for weeks.
Continued to work throughout all that time, never taking a day off. 

We had our trip to Europe and it was amazing. I took her back two more times after that. She beat cancer and lived for thirteen years cancer free.

Sadly she passed at the age of 66 from complications of smoking cigarettes for almost fifty years. And it wasn't lung cancer, surprisingly. But that is another story.


I hope you all enjoyed my family story. In two different scenes we saw the negative aspects of Cancer...and the positive. Fate is funny. If Rolf hadn't reacted how he did, my mom's life would have been different and I certainly wouldn't be here writing this story. 

Yes, Cancer does ruin lives...but remember your actions can cut it at the knees. Don't let it fester and destroy your life and the lives around you.

Please make sure you hop around to the other fun and inspirational stories.

Melissa and I will keep you posted on her journey and the future publication of this Anthology...

Have a GREAT day everyone! 




85 comments:

  1. Hi Michael. This is a beautiful story, some sadness, some happiness, but that's life, isn't it? Was lovely to read your love story to your Mom. She showed such determination in the face of adversary. Lovely that she got to travel to Europe three times with you. How beautiful. You must miss her terribly.

    Thanks for co-hosting the blog hop. I hope many stories come forth and help Melissa.

    Denise

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    1. Thanks, Denise... Mom would've been all for this bloghop!

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  2. All the more powerful because it's true. Glad your mother finally got to see Europe.

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  3. Thanks for sharing your mom's story. She sounds like she was a plucky young woman and a loving mom. I'm glad she got to Europe despite her Hodgkins diagnosis. I am a Hodgkins survivor and identified with her response to the doctor. I thought something very similar when the doctors told me I had cancer - 'hell no, I've got little kids to take care of.' I have a feeling your mom and I would have chatted in the treatment room and got along.

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    1. You sure would have, Elizabeth! Thank God you survived! We must be so thankful for all of the survivors of this dreaded disease... STAY HEALTHY!

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  4. I loved your story, Michael. Your mom sounds amazing and so glad you got to go to Europe with her more than once. My sister had breast cancer and was so brave and positive through her 15 year battle too.

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    1. Thank you, Natalie... so true. One has to be positive... I'm glad your sister beat the odds!

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  5. Such a wonderful story about your mom, an amazing life! So happy you were able to take her to Europe. I love the warmth and genuineness of this post. It's obvious she's been a huge part of your life.

    Yes, cancer sucks. It's taken some important people in my life away from me, but it can never steal the memories I have of them or the influence they had in my life.

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    1. Yes, she was, Sheri.... Sadly this disease takes the ones we love. I pray one day it will be a disease of the past.... I hope we get to see it in our lifetime.

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  6. a lovely story, Mikey! Our thoughts and all positive energy are with sister Melsy!

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  7. Such a wonderful story, you are so blessed to have had such an amazing mother! Inspirational all the way through! Thank you!

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    1. Thank you, Renee...She sure was an inspiration to me and so many people....

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  8. This is a wonderful, inspiring thing you're doing, Michael. The stories are very touching.

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  9. A captivating story and your mother sounds inspirational, she didn't let anything get her down. Thanks for putting together the anthology, it's going to be great.

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    1. That's for sure, Nick... She was a dynamo. A force to be reckoned with...

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  10. Michael, I couldn't stop reading. I love your mother's guys and determination. Thanks for what you are doing to help Melissa.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Karen... Melissa needs our help and it's a pleasure to help her.

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  11. Hi Michael - how fortunate that she was able to live those 13 years and that you have those memories of your trips to Europe ... and the times you shared there.

    Cancer is just dreadful .. and I haven't done my story yet - and tomorrow I'm off to London.

    My thoughts for Melissa .. and for you to know that you are absolutely doing the right thing for Melissa - being there along her journey ...

    Cheers and with thoughts for the both of you .. laugh and cry .. it's always the way ... even in times like these ... Hilary

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    1. So true, Hilary...

      Laughter through tears... an amazing emotion.

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  12. Beautiful story of joy and sadness and determination, Michael. My best wishes to Melissa.

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  13. What a beautiful tribute to your mom, Michael! She sounds amazing.
    This is such a fabulous endeavor. Thank you so much for giving a voice to those affected by this. Such an awesome and inspiring show of support and community.
    ((hugs)) for you and Melissa both!

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  14. Ah Michael, what a story...romance, joy, heartache, adventure, determination...all woven together, and beautifully articulated...
    Your mum was a feisty lady...such an amazing attitude!
    Thanks once again for organising this bloghop for Melissa. You are an angel.

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    1. Thank you, Michelle....

      It's a cause worth fighting for... My mom was quite the feisty lady. She took after her mom. Personality wise they were very much alike and they even died at the same age.... just before their 67th birthday. Which means I'll be stressing when I turn 66... LOL.

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  15. Wow, what a saga with so many twists and turns!

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    1. Yes, my mom lived a very extraordinary life.

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  16. This story had everything! You surely had me on an emotional roller coaster ride. I loved her response at the end when she was told she only had two years. Thank you for what you're doing for Melissa and for helping us to bring awareness to cancer. I am glad I could be a part of it!

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    1. Thank you, Chrys... Me too! I am so glad you were able to participate. Looking forward to reading our entry!

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  17. Such a touching story, Michael. It must have been difficult, yet rewarding to write it. So glad you did.

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    1. It wasn't difficult at all, Lee. It's been such a long time since my mom passed(1998), so the hurt is long gone. I do miss her though, especially during the holidays.

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    2. We never stop missing our parents. I still feel orphaned after my mom's death last year. I always thought you could only be an orphan if you were a kid. Now I know differently.

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  18. Oh, I love your mom's story, Michael. She sounds like she was amazing.

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  19. I was rooting for each twist and turn, and I guess that is life. Wow - quite a story and you are a good son for sharing her tale. Quite the strong woman.

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    1. Thanks Joanne. We all have difficult choices to make in our lives and Mom's was then. Did she want to forgo having children and live a more glamorous life? Having a family was very important to her. She was raised with just a mom until she was ten. No siblings. She felt alone until she had her children...

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  20. Thanks for sharing this story. Your mom was a great, unique, very cool lady. I'm glad you two got those trips to Europe.

    Can't wait to see you on Thursday!

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    1. Me, too, Nicki... My mom was a HOOT traveling. The adventures we had....

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  21. What great stories. Definitely a reminder to check the other side of the life coin when it doesn't come up they way you expected. Hope today is a massive success for M and everyone fighting the fight.

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  22. I like that story. None of us really knows where live will lead us and being positive can always make a difference.

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  23. Inspirational story, Michael. I lost my mom to cancer, and it's still too difficult for me to write about. Her strength and amazing attitude allowed me to be weak—a gift I will always cherish.

    VR Barkowski

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    1. I'm sorry for you loss Vi. So many of us have lost our parents to cancer. My dad died from pancreatic cancer in 2001. It was a horrible time for him. It took him in only three months.

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  24. Awesome story - your mom sounds completely awesome!!
    Cancer sucks, but i do believe we're kicking its ass one step, one story, one victory at a time

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    1. Yes we are, Jemi.... Hopefully in our lifetime it will be stopped for good!

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  25. Like VR, I lost my mother to cancer and it is too close to write about. I am so happy that your mother got to go to Europe 3 times with you. I am sure her spirit is at your side as you host this bloghop. May healing be yours and Melissa's. :-)

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    1. Thank you, Roland. But my mom's spirit is free and I haven't felt her presence in a very long time. But that's okay, I know her spirit is doing what it needs to do. It has moved on. But my memories will always be happy ones.... That's when I feel her most in my memories.

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  26. Great story, Michael. Loved reading every word. My dad died from cancer. My story is about him and his resolve. Great job, great blogfest.

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    1. Thanks Robyn... I'm looking forward to reading your story tomorrow....

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  27. What a wonderful story!
    Great job, Michael.

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  28. Your mom was one badass woman. Thank you for sharing her story and for doing all of this. You are the BEST!! Huge hugs. :)

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    1. My pleasure, Melissa! That's what friends are for....

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  29. Your mom sounds like she was a wonderfully strong woman, a great role model and a special mother. Thank you for sharing her story.

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    1. Thank you, Lynda....

      She was special, but far from perfect. LOL. She was no June Cleaver or Donna Reed that's for sure! But I wouldn't have had it any other way.

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  30. What a touching story. Thank you for sharing it with us.

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  31. MIchael, this is beautiful. I love that you showed how attitude and choice can make a huge difference in the way that the big "C" is tackled. Thank you for sharing your mom's story.

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    1. Thanks Tyrean, it's so true. It's our choices on how to handle this that resolve our fate. My Dad did nothing to fight his cancer and lived only three months. But pancreatic cancer is one of the worst with only a five percent survival rate.

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  32. Your mom was an exceptional lady. It's amazing how she helped run FOUR nursing homes at the same time! She truly was ahead of her time. I was on the edge of my seat throughout your story, and I loved your mom's witty comeback when she was first diagnosed. You were wonderful for taking her on her dream vacation to Europe, three times no less. Thanks for hosting this worthwhile bloghop, and I can't wait for your book to come out! You and Melissa make a great team! Hope to hear part II of your mom's story on Wednesday!

    Julie

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    1. Thanks, Julie. We'll have LOTS to talk about tomorrow...

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  33. She sounds like a really beautiful amazing woman. I have a sister who also had cancer and seeing people we love inflicted with this sickness yet fighting it all the way makes me really believe in the strength of the human spirit. Thanks for sharing your mom's story.

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    1. I sooo believe in the human spirit, Anne. I've seen it so many times... Thanks for stopping by!

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  34. Wow....

    Never expected Rolf to act like that.. but happy he did for YOU!!

    PS... sorry I missed the hop... but you will be proud... I finally finished the ms....
    Cut 13k words AND changed every sentence to present tense :)

    Thanks - and hope the hop was a success :)

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    1. Congrats, Mark! That's awesome.... We missed you, but you finishing is very important too!

      Glad I could help...

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  35. That was a fantastic story, beautifully told. Thanks for sharing it.

    mood

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  36. Thank you, Mood. So happy you enjoyed it. These days I haven't written much, so it's nice to know I still can.

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  37. What a fabulous hop! I so enjoyed your story- so well written and interesting. Great job with the characters!
    ~Jess

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  38. Thank, Jess. I'm glad you enjoyed it. And, thanks for stopping by!

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  39. Thanks so much for sharing your story, Michael. I'm so happy you got to visit Europe together! You told it all in such a sweet way, I felt like I was there with the "characters" :-)

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  40. That was absolutely beautiful. She was a feisty woman!

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  41. What a beautiful story about your Mom. I'm sure she is very proud of you.

    Michael you are also a beautiful man, as evidenced by this story and your willingness to lend a hand to so many people. I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to participate here with you and so many other wonderful bloggers. You are an inspiration to many I'm sure.

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  42. I'm glad to hear she chose Sgt. Mike! And how sweet of you to take her to Europe. You're a good son and she was one lucky mom.

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  43. Michael, you are so lucky to have such a wonderful, inspiring mother. I loved reading about your trip to Europe together.

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  44. Michael, what an inspiration your mom was in so many ways. Thanks for sharing her story. I'm glad that she got to take that trip to Europe.

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  45. What a beautiful story. It goes to show once again that those who choose what they want, instead of putting up with what they don't like ... win. Your Mom sounds like a great lady.

    Thanks so much for organizing this event for Melissa. It is very nice meeting you.

    Hugs,
    Kathy M.

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  46. That's an amazing story. I love your Mom's fierce "I don't have to have a man" spirit. Yet she was clearly a keeper, and the men knew it. I'm so glad you and your Mom got to enjoy Europe several times together and 13 YEARS of being cancer-free is amazing. Thank you, Michael. This story really touches me.

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  47. A beautiful story Michael. I hope it helps Melissa.

    BTW: this is the new Donna Hole. I think I followed you under this name (dolorah) but I'm not tech savvy, as you know.

    ......dhole

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  48. Great story! I hope the anthology does extremely well.

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  49. Thanks so much for sharing this story. Rose Marie must have been one impressive woman. :-)

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  50. Any plans for this to be published?

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