Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Sad Reason to Be Behind Schedule...

I have many things I would like to post about regarding microbiology and my course in that subject on this blog.  Unfortunately, life intervenes from time to time (what was the John Lennon quote?:  "Life is what happens when you are busy making plans.").

I recently wrote about my brave mother, Wanda Jean Martin, and those wonderful microbially themed vests that she made for me.

I am sorry to report that her 14 year battle with ovarian cancer ended very early this morning.  Here is what I wrote on FaceBook:
My mother, Wanda Jean (Burton) Martin, died early this morning. She was born on April 2nd, 1933, in Wanette, Oklahoma, and died of ovarian cancer in Mission Viejo, California on October 7th, 2012. My mother was diagnosed with Stage IIIC ovarian cancer in December of 
 1998, so her struggle was long, brave, and entirely admirable (though she vigorously argued that she was not brave). She is survived by her husband Jack Martin, her sons Jack, Jr. and Mark, and three grandchildren (Justin, Anson, and Zachary). This is a photograph of my mother and father on the day they were married, June 16th, 1951. My mother's passing was peaceful, and she can rest at last.  I was able to speak with her briefly Friday night in person, Saturday she slept all day as her conditioned worsened, and she passed away early Sunday morning.  Please think good thoughts for my distraught father.  I imagine the service will be next week, in Yuba City, California.  I will be there, to honor her.
And here is that wonderful photograph, taken the day my parents were married.

I remember bribing my mother with ice cream into watching the American Society for Microbiology video about my beloved microbes, "Intimate Strangers" many years ago.  In the cartoon opening to that fine video series about microbiology and microbiologists, the cartoon perspective narrows down to the the microbes living on the skin.  Two of the "spheres" turned, revealing blinking animated eyes.

My mother said at the time, "Oh, Mark, germs don't have eyes."  She paused.  "Do they?"  And so began a great discussion about how microbes perceive their environment.  Just as my mother raised me to watch all those PBS shows about "nature," that day she listened avidly to me discuss the unseen world all around us.

When I spoke to my mother in person for the last time on Friday night, I was wearing the last vest she had made for me.  She said, "What a nice vest! Who made it?"  Someone who loves me, I replied.  She smiled.  "It could have better workmanship," she observed.  That's true of everything in life, I reminded her.  And she smiled again, and held my hand.

I will miss my mother's bravery, grit, and inquisitive nature.  Rest well, Mom.  No more pain.  

Everyone else? Keep an eye on that deadly disease, ovarian cancer.  And tell the people who matter to you how you feel, today.  I had my chance, the day before my mother died, and I am glad I did.