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Ester Marsh column: Home sweet home

As many of you may know, I was home in the Netherlands with my terminally ill mom. Eleven years ago, she had melanoma on her left calf and lymph nodes and unfortunately it came back in her lungs.

She died Nov. 7 at the age of 83 after being diagnosed on Sept. 14 this year. My mom was going to the gym five days a week only three months ago. I always respected her tremendously for her strength, her positive attitude and her grace.

Because of the great support of my husband Kevin Marsh and my work the Rowan County YMCA, I was able to help my mom and dad for the past two months. It was the most rewarding time I have ever experienced.

As sick as she was at times, getting tired by just eating a sandwich, my mom continued to be strong, positive and graceful until the end. She planned her funeral, which became a celebration of her life, from the beginning to the end and she was able to say goodbye to most everyone she knows. We owned a bakery for almost 40 years so lots of people knew her!

Not many people can accept their fate with the grace and strength as she did. Taking care of her, being with my dad and my family has truly rewarded me more than what I gave out.

She thanked each person for being in their life and she would tell them (translated from Dutch) “Thank you for being in my life,” I am on my last phase in life” (where people would look strangely). “Yep, I am going to die” (shock on peoples’ faces). “I have had a great life. I am 83 years old, and I’ve seen my kids and grandchildren grow up (her mom died of cancer when my mom was 22 years old). “Sure, I wanted to live till 90 but it’s just not that way and it’s OK.” She would thank them again and we would move on.

I hope when I get to that point in my life I will be as strong, positive and graceful as she was.

My mom, the fitness queen of the Netherlands, a true example of a great person who lived her own beautiful legacy, the last of nine (and youngest) siblings of her generation of the Family Hanssen to pass.

Heaven received another wonderful angel and one day we will meet again. Until then, I am so happy to be home again! And I will do my best to continue her legacy by living gracefully, be thankful and positive and respect each individual for who they are.

Ester H Marsh is thankful to be the health and fitness director at the JF Hurley Family YMCA.

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