A Mother-Daughter Milestone to Celebrate
Last year, Stacey reached out to me asking me to create a set of mother-daughter birthstone rings for her and her mother to celebrate a huge milestone in their lives. In this email, Stacey told me about her inspirational mother and explained how they grew up like sisters and the struggles they faced. After I completed Stacey's rings, I asked her if she would like to share her story.
Stacey, it was such an honor working with you. Thank you for being brave and sharing your beautiful story with us — and here it is, just in time for Mother’s Day.
Text by Stacey Roberts
My grandmother has always told me that my mother was wild and sassy as a teen. My mother, Michelle, is the oldest of her 4 other siblings and lived in an average middle-class American home with 2 parents. She became pregnant at the age of 16 and I was born at the start of her senior year. Because the household didn’t have extra income, my mother began working during the day and attending night school. My grandmother left her job and started a daycare to be home with me during the day (my grandma still runs a daycare today). My mother worked hard and was able to graduate with her class and get an apartment with my father. I believe their relationship lasted till I was about 2 years old. My relationship with my father fizzled out over the next 6 years and my mother became a single parent.
My mom tells me now about her financial struggles through the years but it was never something I noticed growing up. Although I didn’t always have the name brand clothes or the starter jackets that my friends had, I always had what I needed and it never really bothered me too much. We always lived in the country and as I became older and more involved with school activities, my mother decided it was time to move closer to school. It was the summer before my freshman year and she had just left a long term relationship and had no credit, vehicle or home. With some hard work and a lot of research, my mother was able to buy a car and her very first home; which was conveniently located right next to the school. It was a tiny house but perfect for the two of us and it allowed my mother to work multiple jobs so that I could be in sports and get to practice on my own.
A year later, my mom was 32 and I was going to into my sophomore year and was about to turn 14. One day my mother sat me down, along with my best friend Shawna, and she said had something to tell us. My mom was always planning fun things for us to do so we expected she has some surprise adventure to tell us about. Instead she told us that she hadn’t been feeling well, had some testing done and was diagnosed with terminal stage 3 Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. I remember feeling really numb about it at first, like it couldn’t be true and when that wore off, panic. My mom was moving up in her company, going to college, working a 2nd job with Hospice and somehow still making it to almost every one of my school events. She was working so hard, why would this happen to her? Not only that, was I about to be an orphan?
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer that starts in the white blood cells, which are part of the body’s immune system, and accounts for about 4% of all cancers. This is a cancer that is more common in men and most patients are age 65 or older at time of diagnosis. Because of this, doctors didn’t have a lot of statistics on 32 year old females and my mother was asked to be part of a study with a new drug. My mother accepted and began chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Our family held a benefit for her, which she was incredibly embarrassed about, that was much needed to help with the growing number of medical bills. She had a lot of guilt during this time. She was handling the chemo and radiation quite gracefully with little illness and no hair loss. She stressed about the lost hours of work which would equal a smaller paycheck. She put plans in place for me in case she didn’t make it through. The thought of leaving me at such a significant time in a young girls life ate her up. All of these things she was dealing with and still, she stayed so strong in front of me. It is something that I didn’t realize then but now as an adult myself I truly can’t imagine what she was going through.
Eventually, my mother completed her treatment and was told that her cancer was in remission. This didn’t mean that she was cured but simply meant that the spreading of cancer was slowed significantly. Based on the study and the progression of her cancer, doctors believed the cancer would spread to her bone marrow and take her life within 10 years.
Fast forward 3 years, my mother gets to see me graduate from high school, join the Michigan Army National Guard and send me off to boot camp. She gets to see me graduate from boot camp and takes me to my first day of collage at Ferris State University. Exactly 2 years after my enlistment, at the age of 19, my mom waves good bye as I am sent off to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. With all that my mother went through previously, she says that this 15 months was the hardest of her life. During my deployment I ordered a set of matching rings for my mother and I that featured our birthstones and that we have worn every day since. After a safe return, I continued my education and my mother was able to see me graduate from Ferris State University and again from Kendall College of Art & Design. My mother continued to move up in her company and accepted a new position in Dallas, Texas. She sold our little home in the quaint village of Lakeview and moved across the country all alone (well, with my cat) to a townhouse in Waxahachie, Texas. Here she met Mr. Ronnie Poulk and took on another new position as Plant Manager and Quality Control Supervisor at Burleson’s Honey. When I was 25 my mother got to see me get married, buy my first home and later that year get married herself for the first time.
She recently turned 50 and if you remember, she wasn’t supposed to make it past the age of 42. I am 32 this year. The same age my mother was when she was diagnosed with a terminal cancer and had an active 14 year old. I really wanted to emphasize this milestone in our lives and with the help of Emma Elizabeth Jewelry, I was able to melt down my old ring which had worn down and stones chipped to create a new set of rings that are timeless, personalized and completely handmade. They each feature a our birthstones again, opal for October and pearl for June. She recently had her annual cancer scan and is still in remission!
My mother is a lot of things ... Plant Managers & Quality Control Manager at Burleson's Honey. Board Member for True Source Honey. First Handler of the National Honey Board. Member of my VFW’s Auxiliary. Member of many other organizations. Daughter. Sister. Aunt. Explorer. Traveler. Beer Connoisseur. Fisher woman. Teacher. And so much more...but my absolute favorite is MOM.
It’s Emma here — if you are looking for a custom bespoke order to be created for your mom, please do not hesitate to reach out. We are just about one month away from Mother’s Day but the time is now for bespoke orders. The bespoke process takes time so I am only excepting a few in order to ensure I have them completed in time for the big day.
Thank you for reading — I really hoped you enjoyed Stacey’s story as much as I did! Now, go hug your mom! ;)