Five years ago, on March 19, 2009, I walked up an incline in Aspen, Colorado, with a phone to my ear. I listened, shaking, as my mother told me her doctor found a "blockage." I was irritated. We all knew what a "blockage" meant. It meant "cancer". And cancer means you are done.

It was sunny and warm, a typical spring break-like Colorado day and some of my dearest friends in the whole world had flown in from New York City to ski in the best powder around. My heart beat so fast as I listened to her describe more details about this thing, and I knew what the call meant. It was a foe looking for a fight.

Since then, my father, brother, husband, sister-in-law and many family and friends have gone to extraordinary lengths in this one cancer fight among too many. Five years went by.

In the center was my mom, lying in scanners, sitting in cars and flying on planes, waiting in rooms while health care professionals talked, getting blood drawn, waiting three months to three months, arguing with insurance companies and welcoming each opportunity to visit with someone who came by her house to sit in the front room because she was "Paulette" -- the best mom that everyone wanted as their mom -- stepping forward and never really taking on her gloves.

Nobody fights illness unless they want to live, and being a fighter is a descriptor not fit for all of us. Fighter. Think of what it means to fit that definition: you're on the front lines; you're hearing the reality of a frightening situation; you're aware of danger lurking; you're full of adrenaline waiting to win the game, willing a victory; you persevere, can't give up; you're unable to settle and restlessness befits your constant need and desire to win. It's got to be tiresome. It's got to be an ever-present quest for sleep, for the ability to close your eyes.

Mom left us this morning at 12:40 a.m. We were so fortunate to be with her, holding her hands. She drew her last breath very peacefully and my only hope is that she is finally, truly resting for the first time in so long. Everyone always says their loved ones fought until the end. My momma really fought, she fought so hard and walked away from us when she was damn ready. Even in her pain, she raised an eyebrow, smirked and once opened her eyes and shed tears when my sister-in-law told her goodbye. She felt and heard our tears (for me) and our laughter. We had some laughter, too.

We will have details about arrangements tomorrow. For now, thank you for being part of our life.

- Greg, Taryn, Matt, Thayne, Jennie and Ginger


  1. Rob and I are so sorry for your loss. I will be forever grateful that she allowed me into her life. I will remember that last day at the house with her forever. We are sorry we will not be with you in person at the funeral. Please know that we are with you all in our prayers. Hugs.

  2. My heart goes out to you all. I will always remember Paulette as a compassionate, caring woman, who said what she meant and meant what she said. She always made time for everyone, whether they stopped by her office to ask her how to untangle their school information or they happened across her near the onions at the grocery store -- that's where she opened her arms to give me a big hug the last time I saw her. The last text I received from her asked about me and my family. Yes, Paulette, you cared about others always before yourself. She will be missed. Many have been touched by her life ... and her fight ... and her example of courage and grace. Our thoughts, our prayers, and God's love, Steve and Joyce

  3. Patty shapland CraftMarch 15, 2014 at 9:49 AM

    When Shad and Wes was loosing their grandma Paulette was so caring and thoughtful and there for them at school. I will a have always been so thankful for compassion. She's in God's hands and how wonderful that is!

  4. This is beautifully written, Taryn. It's a lovely tribute to a lovely woman.

  5. A beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman. She always showed concern and love for others. She will be missed here on earth. Heaven is celebrating her arrival there. You will be in our thoughts and prayers.

  6. Taryn, thank you for such a beautiful tribute. Her kind, warm and loving spirit has helped so many and will continue to do so.
    Sending loving, comforting energy to you and your family.
    Much love- Zak, Mel and Liv

  7. Your mom was one of a kind. I loved her dry sense of humor. We had such fun during football season when Thayne and Jason were playing together at UHS. Our most recent conversations revolved around grand kids. She was so proud of Ginger and of you as a mom. She will continue to live on in so many hearts in Ulysses. Thanks for sharing your mom with us.

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  9. I am so sorry for your loss. Each & everyone of you are in my thoughts & Prayers.. It's been many many years since I've been back to Ulysses, but still remember your Mom as such a GREAT person!! the words you wrote are beautiful & a wonderful tribute to your Mom. She will be with you & your family always. God has truly gotten a special Angel!!

  10. Taryn,

    Thank you for keeping all of us appraised of your families journey these last few years. We appreciate your time and efforts. Your blogs are a heartfelt testament of compassion and love. Our thoughts and prayers to your entire family. I am sorry that we will not be able to make it to the funeral services. Please let your family know we are thinking of you and them. Paulette has graced so many lives including mine. Sonya and I have so many wonderful memories that we will always hold dear to our hearts. Bless each and every one of you.

    With all our love,
    Joel, Sonya, Eli, Ethan, Ryan and Jack


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