Friday, October 28, 2011

A mother's gift

Celia Winn Spaans with her daughters (author Samantha at right).
When I think of my mother one word comes to mind: JOY.

Celia Winn Spaans was probably one of the happiest, most joyful people you would have had the pleasure of knowing. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995, but that did not stop her from loving and serving others. She cared for my sisters and me (ages 5, 3, and 1) with an open heart. When she passed away in 1998, we knew that she had gone to be with the Lord and was joyfully singing praises to him just as she had here on earth.

My mother was full of life. She was active in church and always had a smile on her face. She cared about other people, and always put others before herself, even when she was sick! Everyone who knew her realized the value of her friendship. She loved deeply and strived to serve the Lord with her life. I was only 7 years old when she passed away, but the stories that I have been told over the past 13 years reminded me time and time again that she was a wonderful woman.

About six months before she passed away, while she was reading me Just in Case You Ever Wonder by Max Lucado, she cried.  She knew that she could not promise me that she would be with me forever here on earth.  However, the last lines of the book comforted me.  They said “In heaven you are so close to God that He will hug you, just like I hug you.  It's going to be wonderful.   I will be there too, I promise.  We will be there together, forever. Remember that. Just in case you ever wonder.” When I heard those words I knew that everything would be okay.  No matter what happened in our earthly lives we would be together in the end with our Savior.

She left a legacy of love, which lives on through my sisters and me. Because of her loving and giving spirit she will always be remembered. My mother’s life and death have taught me so much.  Watching her struggle with cancer has shown me that love and joy triumph over death. Philippians 4:4 says “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice”. She rejoiced even through the storms of life. Her life was a true testimony of what it means to be joyful.

I am so happy that her name is over the March of Dimes NICU Family Support® room door at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth. The new March of Dimes NICU Family Support® program will provide enhanced information and comfort to families of premature and other critically ill newborns being cared for in the NICU, and the Celia Winn Spaans Family Support Room will offer staff and families a place to convene, learn from and share stories as well as lend support to one another. My mother was an extremely compassionate person and I know she would love to have her name connected to this hospital program that helps families faced with difficult medical challenges.  She would be very proud.

I am comforted by the fact that the Texas Health Fort Worth NICU and the March of Dimes will be there to help my family if I am ever in need when I have children someday. As I look back on my mother’s life and recall the stories I have been told, I hope to someday leave the same legacy with my children.

Written by Samantha Spaans, daughter of Celia Winn Spaans. Samantha (on the far right) is pictured with her sisters in 2010.

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