woman standing in a heart embracing two children

Memories of Mae

Hi, my name is Yolanda. I’m the daughter of Eartha “Mae” Lawson...

Funny as I write this I feel guilty stating my mother’s full name, as she couldn’t stand the name of “Eartha”. She thought it too country of a name when pronounced together; Eartha-Mae. “Don’t call me no Eartha Mae, just call me Mae”, and so everyone did. She used to tell me her name was taken from the actress Eartha Kitt, or something like that, whom was believed to be a distant cousin, but that didn’t matter much to her, she wasn’t feeling the name.

Mae's lung cancer story

I won’t beat around the bush with this -- I lost my mother to lung cancer 7 years and 11 months ago. After falling ill to a persistent cough and symptoms of a very bad cold, no one could imagine her end would be this horrid disease. I remember being away at some business whatever, and my mom telling me she wasn’t feeling great. She eventually went to the hospital, which led to a 2 week stay due to pneumonia, and multiple testing. Why two weeks? That is something I struggle with today, but in the end I’ve let that go. My mom spent her 63rd birthday in the hospital, and she didn’t miss a beat wanting her birthday gift when she got out of the hospital.

When it was time for her follow-up appointment, I received that dreaded call at my office..."Baby, I have some news but don’t be upset." Imagine asking me don’t be upset about what she was told, but that was Mae, always protecting her cubs I guess. "Baby, they said I have lung cancer." I lost it, I really did. I’ll never forget grabbing my door pass and phone, and running across the street to the mall to call my husband and friend, funny I don’t remember much else, but the chaos that took place weeks later.

Standing up for my mom

You know my mom and I had a tight and unique relationship, she was protective of me as I was protective of her. I remember at her wake I shared how she was having some issue with her union reps at the airport where she worked. They were giving her a hard time that seemed to be out of proper protocol. I remember going up to her job when she had this union meeting 3 pieced suit and all, and proceeded as the representative for my mom. I don’t have a law degree, but that was my girl, and she wasn’t having it nor was I. We blew everyone away in that meeting; I think she was even baffled by what had happened, but we fixed the matter to let these folk no, we were not the ones! Who does that?! She had no more major issues after that. We were indeed Thelma and Louise at times.

Unfortunately, when Mae told me of her diagnosis, that’s the one thing I couldn’t fix. Though I tried to inquire about a better team, hospital whatever was needed, I couldn’t fix this. My mom had stage IV lung cancer that was either not detected earlier or spread so fast, we were on borrowed time.

Mae through my eyes

Mae My mother could be an angel, as always caring and would always help out her fellow man. You know how it can be; some people take advantage of people like her, or try to. As for her children, she was not to be played with, as that’s where the devil side came out. Anyone who had ill commentary about my brother or I, was going to get it. I was too nerdy and my brother so young, who would have anything to say, but there would be that one person who tried it and mommy would handle them, good for us not for the other. She wasn’t perfect, but a lot of us aren’t, but for a kid growing up, she was a huge presence that made a way for our family. In my book she was perfect. She was full of life, and always the star of the party, as embarrassing as it would be for me at times.

Memories are the best medicine

Well, I’ve never been the same since her passing, it’s been 7 years and 11 months, and though I make my rounds doing the most in conquering the world, there’s a pit of emptiness. I say all this to say, memories are the best medicine when feeling gloom of dealing with this disease, or loving someone with it. Try your hardest to stir up those memories, or better yet make new lasting ones.

The time to fight is now, with integrity, grace, hope, and a smile...when you feel like it.

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