Bobbie’s Girls

This is a difficult post to write. I have thought about what I want to say and how I want to say it for many weeks. I will never do justice to what I am trying to express in this post. Ellie and I have decided to change the name of our team. Originally, we had chosen the name Team Frost with a plan in mind. No, we weren’t striving for tremendous originality, we had decided that we would allow the highest donor to name our team and “Team Frost” was chosen as a placeholder. However, we have decided to change that plan and we are re-naming our team in the memory of one of the bravest and most remarkable women either of us have ever known.

On July 12th this year my mother, Bobbie Isserman, died. Bobbie’s last weeks were spent in the ICU where she continued to battle for her life with a tenaciousness, courage and grace few people could ever hope to match. Bobbie’s last decade of life was marked by those same qualities. Having been diagnosed with cancer of the jaw in the fall of 1999, Bobbie braved jaw reconstruction, chemo and radiation and a subsequent surgery. Ultimately, Bobbie overcame the cancer which had infiltrated her jaw, but her health was forever ravaged by the effects of the radiation and the chemo. She had trouble chewing, swallowing and eating. She suffered from a damaged circulatory system which was further impacted by a previously-existing heart condition. Throughout her physical ordeals, Bobbie refused to have let her life be ruled by pain or to allow her health issues to impact her quality of life. She never complained and rarely bemoaned the issues she dealt with daily. She would observe that “being alive beat the hell out of the alternative”.

In the last year in particular Bobbie was bedeviled by infections and viruses. She had lost weight over the years and had trouble taking in enough calories to keep her weight up. As her difficulties swallowing worsened, she struggled to take in enough nourishment to fuel her body. Her weight fell to 110 lbs and she lacked the physical stamina to fight off the ailments which plagued her. Her spirit and determination were almost too strong for her body and, with broken hearts, her husband, Ferd, and all of us, decided we must let her rest. We were all with her when she took her last breath and we all hope she is with us now and forever.

Bobbie’s last decade may have been marked with physical struggle, but the previous decades were a testament to a true joy in life. My mother was a great and vibrant personality. She was exceptionally beautiful. Tall with dark hair, she had prominent cheekbones and an aristocratic nose. She had tremendous grace and carriage. She was exceptionally intelligent and insightful. She had a warm personality and spirited sense of humor and fun. Her grace and compassion wrapped around a core of strength and determination. She had a tremendous artistic sense and personal sense of style. She loved bright colors, flights of fancy and was open to new ideas and experiences. She loved music, was devoted to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and she loved the fine arts as well. Throughout her life she thrilled to learn and to experience culture.

She was a warm and loving person. Despite her strength and strength of personality, she was only too ready to sacrifice her own interests for the interests of those she loved. She was a lady in every sense, but she was nobody’s fool. She loved parties and social gatherings and had a wide circle of friendships throughout her life. She was a good friend to many people. She was most especially a good friend to me. The warm and loving relationship that I am blessed to have with Ellie is the mirror of the relationship I had with my own mother. She has been a tremendous role model to me and it is a source of great pride and happiness when someone remarks to me that I remind them of my mother. Since I was adopted as a baby, any resemblance to my mother is a triumph of nurture over nature and all the more meaningful to me.

So, Ellie and I are re-naming our team Bobbie’s Girls. My mother may not have died of breast cancer, but she displayed the same courage and values shared by so many who have faced this disease. And, as Ellie and I walk next week, and as we have trained this summer, she has inspired us with her fortitude and grace. We dedicate our walk to many, about whom I will write in another post, but we name our walk for the woman who most inspires us and makes us want to be more than we are. We love you and miss you forever, Bobbie.

Bobbie and Jenny in Florida

Bobbie, Ferd and me at the 3-Day in 2004

 

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5 Comments to “Bobbie’s Girls”

  1. Most difficult words to write, and yet you have done so with great eloquence and beauty. I am so sorry that you lost your mother, and I thank you for sharing this tribute.

  2. What a beautiful tribute to your mother and to your very special rapport with her. It’s clear that she’s with you all the way. Nobody can ever take from you the gift of closeness. And while it makes it difficult to grieve her loss, you’ll find over time that the closeness will always be with you.

    I wish you and Ellie well on your walk.

    Love,

    Molly

  3. What a beautiful tribute and legacy- one that will live on in the hearts of all of those who were fortunate enough to know Bobbie in person and for those of us who knew her through your stories over the many decades..she would be so proud of the two of you walking to raise so much money for breast cancer. A week from today you’ll be walking!!!

  4. I couldn’t agree more with what you write. Bobbie was the most generous person I have known … thinking back I jrealize she and I (and Ferd of course) spent time together in Chicago, Vienna, Tokyo and Naples! Amazing.
    I miss her.
    Alles Gute and good luck to Bobbie’s girls

  5. Jenny and Ellie:
    What a beautiful tribute. Bobbie’s indomitable spirit will be with you evey step of the way, and she would be so proud of you as she always was. You are Bobbie’s girls!

    See you on Sunday!

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