As difficult as this winter has been with the power outages and stormy weather, it pales in comparison to my overwhelming sense of dread as I prepared for the 20th anniversary of my mother’s passing on March 20. On that day, I know my mind will inevitably flash back to her last painful hours, when she valiantly struggled just to stay alive. Yet, I’m equally certain I will remember the remarkable connection I had with this magnificent woman. It was indeed the strength of our connection, coupled with the undying love I have for her, that made her final days so daunting.

Social scientists suggest that we cannot underestimate the influence our parents have on us. For me, no person impacted me more than my mother, Rose. She was funny, intelligent, elegant, caring, empathetic, and could be both silly and serious in the same conversation. She did not have much growing up. Mom’s mother immigrated to this country with nothing but the clothes on her back. Rose was the first in her family to earn a college degree and was a teacher her whole life. She taught my sister and me the values of civility, humor, humility, respect, and, above all, love. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of her or feel her presence. Yet, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention another prominent influence in my life, my first cousin, Judy.

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