Remembering Meredith

On the morning of November 12, 2015, fellow-blogger and friend, Phil Basset, died unexpectedly. Phil was known to us a Grumpy Elder, owner, publisher and editor of Grumpy Opinions. When my son was diagnosed with Renal Cell Cancer in June 2014, blogger AlphaMom often dropped by to leave encouraging words in comments and emails. She blogged at Grumpy Opinions at times, and Phil later told me that her own daughter, Meredith, was fighting Ovarian Cancer. The day Phil left us we shared some memories of him, and she told me he offered to post her personal eulogy for her daughter on Grumpy Opinions. I’m standing in for Phil today, and the following tribute will be posted at Grumpy Opinions as well.




A little over one month ago, my daughter, Meredith, took her last breath when she lost her battle to Ovarian Cancer. Even when we know, in advance, that the end is near, the actual death comes as a jolt, a shock, and feels unreal. During this past month, we have picked up our life pace and we’ve gone to work, shopped, cooked, talked to our friends, done our daily tasks…even smiled and laughed. During any one of those activities, it will suddenly hit us. The loss, the finality of it is devastating. We will never see her again, never speak to her again, never hug her nor ever include her in any of our family celebrations.

Years ago, one of my other children died. At that time, There were ten children. When I lost my son, people tried to console me by saying, “Well, you still have nine children at home.” True, but there is always an empty space where that child should be. Now, we have two empty spaces.

Meredith was always a dominant personality in the family. She was a good student and she loved any animal. She used to carry garden toads Hummingbird_20in her pockets. She called them her “sweeties”. She married early…just out of high school. A few years later, she realized that in order to get to where she wanted to be, she’d have to have a university degree. She attained that and went on to work at museums teaching and guiding children in the arts.

Meredith was intelligent, witty, articulate and clever. She mastered the Italian language and won a scholarship to Italy to study. She studied French and spoke good Spanish. While in Italy, she toured many of the famous churches and towns studying and absorbing the art as well as the culture, mores and dialects.

Nearly three years ago, she was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. She began treatment and was treated well and was pronounced “cancer free: in remission” by her final doctor. Of course, she was over-joyed as were we. She began to put her life back together and bought a house. Decorated it with her art collection and settled in. Her three children visited and spent time with her. We all thought that the end of the nightmare had come.

Last April, she was feeling good so she went to Italy to visit a friend. After a few days in Italy, she began to have the old tell-tale symptoms. A lot of abdominal pain. She was to have stayed for the entire month but she cut it short and came home. She saw the doctor and after unsuccessful chemo and tests, she was told that there was nothing more that could be done. The prognosis was that she had only a few days…a week or two at most. Hospice was engaged.

My dear, tough, gritty, determined daughter kicked sand in the face of the cancer and smeared egg on the faces of the prognosticating docs by remaining alive for almost six months longer. During that time, she lived a nearly normal life. In that six months period, we celebrated her last birthday, she was able to shop, she had visits from old, dear friends, family congregated at her house, and she was able to enjoy the company of her three children and celebrate their three birthdays.

During her entire illness, she never looked sick and she never allowed herself to be unbathed nor was she ever disheveled or untidy. She was conscious of her appearance to the end. She had always been fashionable, trendy and chic and she never gave in even while she was at her sickest. Her make-up was always meticulously applied and she was always well turned out. Some may think that she was vain and trivial but I think that it was her way of expressing that she, in spite of the ravages of cancer, was still human.

My friend, Grumpy Elder offered to publish a eulogy if I’d care to write one. I feel a bit better after writing this…it was inside me, wanting to come out. Thanks, Grumpy. M

MRW/AlphaMom 11. 10. 2015

  • stlgretchen

    Maggie, thanks for honoring Phil’s promise. What sweet tribute to everyone.

    • Thank you, Gretchen. There’s no understanding how we lose such beautiful young people. We expect to go as we age, but the young ones, so filled with promise –– there’s no way to understand it.

  • SuzyQ

    Well of course you knew that this blog would touch many. Ovarian Cancer is the sneaky one. It’s symptoms cannot be ignored if you know what to look for. My dear friend Vallie lost a wonderful friend to this disease and promised she would do something about it. Ovarian Cancer Symptom Awareness (OCSA) was born and is a national org. They have a unique approach to develop tests to sniff out cancer using dogs! Research is being done at UPenn and I have met Olin, one of the dogs on staff. 🙂 Many veterinarians have become partners by distributing OCSA info to their female clients who bring in pets and reveal symptoms they are having.

    I am sad to say I know and have lost several good friends and family to this awful disease. My dearest friend reminds me of Meredith. She is being treated at the best places after a 14 year remission. Marie remains stoic and elegant in her demeanor and speech. Mostly, she loves her ‘people’ around. We can do that at least.

    • SuzyQ, thanks so much for telling me about this organization. As I told Meredith’s mother recently, I heard of a young girl, eight years old, said to be the youngest to ever be diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer, has been pronounced “cancer free.” I’ve also heard of the dogs, and other animals who instinctively seem to know. My son was diagnosed with Stage 4 Advanced Renal Cell Cancer, and so many things in the months before, when doctors treated him for “allergies,” –– now that we look back on it –– we think was the reason for his dog’s distress all that time. We have no doubt that she knew. Once more, thanks for the info on Ovarian Cancer Awareness (OCSA).

  • cjquinn

    Maggie, you are a loyal friend and I am sure that our dear Grumpy is smiling in Heaven and saying thanks! Although I do not know AlphaMom, her tribute is so raw and heartfelt that it brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for posting this. It is a wonderful reminder of how precious and fleeting life really is. May God Bless their souls.

    • cjquinn, Grumpy was so kind to me and concerned when my son was diagnosed with a devastating cancer. Every call, and so many emails, it was the first thing he asked about. He was, too, a loyal friend. Thanks you for the sweet comment.

  • cryandhowl

    Thank you for posting that Maggie.
    Phil was one of the best, a quality man and a true patriot and will be sorely missed.
    I have a good friend named Buck and we exchange books often as both of us are avid readers. He’s about 79 years old and still works every day. He’s a salesman for a concrete company. He has medical issues and has to go to a cancer treatment facility occasionally. He told me a few years ago that the saddest thing for him is to see young children who are fighting various cancers. It’s simply heart-breaking.

    I have another great friend named Liz. She is the Human Resources Manager for the company I work for. Just a great lady in every way. She’s been battling metastatic breast cancer for a year and is doing better. I love this lady and her family very much. She’s my “go to girl” here at work. If I need anything done I can always count on her. I was going to post a link to her Facebook page as she posted something regarding her one year anniversary of cancer treatment but the link doesn’t seem to work.

    Here’s what she had to say:

    Elizabeth Starkey feeling grateful.

    14 hrs · Grapevine, TX ·

    Exactly one year ago I had my first infusion for metastatic breast cancer. Today, I celebrated my last infusion of Herceptin and Perjeta. I may never be cancer-free, but can now plan my future in years, not just months. Thank you to my family, friends, boss, coworkers, medical team and prayer warriors for your support. I thank God for putting all of you in my life! I am blessed.

    • CryandHowl, I don’t know how I missed all these comments on this post but I did. Re: your friend Elizabeth. She has come a long way, and for metastatic breast cancer new drugs are hitting the market that are really making a difference. I hope they are using her DNA to fight, because that has been so successful. The ImmunoTherapy drugs hold great promise, and I think that includes some breast cancers. Here’s an article, although I’m sure her physician keeps her informed:

      God bless her and you for being one of those friends in her life.

  • LadyImpactOhio

    im glad to know who Phil’s friends are and were. I really miss his “good morning young lady” but he always knew who needed prayers and attention. Go with God Alpha Mom. The sweet Lord will give you solace.

    • LadyImpactOhio, I usually got “good afternoon, young lady,” or “good evening, young lady” as that’s when we usually chatted. There isn’t a day that I’m at the computer, that I don’t think of him. Since he told me about Meredith (although I didn’t know her name then) she and AlphaMom have been in my prayers, alongside my son. Sometimes I think He must get so tired of my constant pleas for healing and guidance, and asking “how do I know how to pray in Your will?”