How Facebook Changed the End of Mom's Life

A year ago last August my mother was diagnosed with matasticized breast cancer and was told that we were treating not curing.

To say that is a devastating thing for anyone to hear is an understatement. But we all rallied around the person who had given so much of herself to raise us three kids.

My brother, who lives in Oregon, suggested a book. A book comprised of messages to her, relayed through us, from those people on whose lives mom had made an impact. Me, being a self-proclaimed techie with delusions of grandeur, suggested a group on Facebook since I had reconnected there with many people from my earlier life in New Canaan.

So we created "Messages to Peg", an invitation only Facebook Group and populated it with everyone we could think of who had known mom.

To be cliche and say that the response was overwhelming would be an understatement. Kids who I we grew up with, now in their 40's and 50's, telling mom how she'd had effected their lives growing up in profound ways. Word got out and her co-workers at New Canaan High School, Boy Scouts from our old troop, staff and alumni from The Daycare Center of New Canaan where she also worked along with folks from the New Canaan YMCA where dad had worked so many years ago sought out group membership and posted messages there too.

A picture of mom from 1962 in a dress
we found in her closet in 2011. It the
picture used on Messages to Peg.
Still, we didn't know how she was going to take it. We decided to wait to show them to her until my brother made it back for a visit. He had compiled them in a notebook along side the ones which had been emailed to us. Then the three of us, my sister, brother and I, sat in the living room, around the hospital bed we had installed there for her, and read them to her. It was  difficult because by doing this we were admitting openly and together that our hopes for a miracle were, most likely, not going to be answered the way we were asking for. Yet through it all she was amazed and delighted every time we read a new name and message.

The change in her end of life came later. On a day where it was just she and I. On the last day I saw her make it from the bed to the chair she had been sitting in her entire married and widowed life. I sat on her bed and watched the tears start to flow.

"I thought there would be more time." she said, "There's not enough time, I have stuff I want to get done."

I told her there is never enough time.

"Think instead" I said picking up the book from the table, "of what you have accomplished. Look at the people on whose lives you have had an effect and in some cases a profound effect."

She dried her tears and acknowledged that, yes, the Messages to Peg had shown her that she had accomplished more than she previously thought she had.

It was from that moment on, about two weeks before she finally passed, that she accepted the inevitable and came to accept that her life had been a full one and she had, in fact, made an impact thanks to an idea brought forward by my brother and the power of social media to connect.