06/10/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

In Memory of Mom

My mother passed away Thursday after a three year battle with lung cancer. Her funeral is Sunday. I have mixed feelings about her passing.

I'm trying very hard to remember the good things that happened with my family while we were growing up. Baking cookies at Christmas comes to mind. We'd take a vacation every summer. Until you've traveled in the bed of a truck with an aluminum topper, you don't know what those trips were like. Especially when you consider most of them were in July and August.

We had fun, but we also had our problems. Mom wanted things done her way, and her way was not mine. Funny thing is, I got to where she was directing me eventually. It took awhile, but we got there.

While growing up, I couldn't appreciate the sacrifices she made for me, or for us.

I do now though. We never had money to spare and I remember periods when she and dad would go with less food than my brother, sister and I so we could eat. I never really thought much about it, but I think that was one of the biggest sacrifices she made for us. She always passed it off as she was dieting.

She and dad tried to keep their fights to themselves, too. Every now and then I would hear them, and I thought it was healthy because both of them had a problem with communication. They'd wait until things blew up instead of working through it step by step.

Since I live near St. Louis and she was near Chicago, we'd talk by phone a lot. Sometimes "Wheel of Fortune" would be on when I called. We'd sit there solving the puzzles while we were talking. I always thought it was dad who enjoyed that show, apparently mom did more so than he does.

One particular Mother's Day comes to mind for me, the weekend of my Junior Prom in May 1987. My 18th birthday present was my prom dress. I went stag with one of my friends. We had a lot of fun and stopped at one of her friend's houses on the way home. Well, we drank. I must have woken dad up when I stumbled up the stairs, but he didn't say anything then.

Nope. He waited until about 8 a.m. and woke me up, hangover and all.

"Are you going to make breakfast for your mother?" he asks. He was persistent and I was pissed, one because I was hung over and two because I knew mom wouldn't be up until noon. I know this is more of a dad story, but I learned a lesson about it too. I never came home drunk again. I don't know how much mom knew about what happened, because I never asked her, but I'm pretty sure she knew it had something to do with dad and me butting heads.

I know mom is not suffering now, but I can feel the loss. I'll deal with it, but I'm not sure how well. Remembering the good times will help and honor her memory more than if I just stop moving forward with my life.