Mom had an aortic valve replacement and was dealing with complications after the surgery.

It was Super Bowl Sunday 2006, and, as always, we were watching the game and hoping we might get lucky and win a part of an office box pool that we shared with my dear friend, Chrissy.

The only thing that was different this year from any other, was the fact that we had no idea what our numbers were and that we were watching the game from Mom’s room in the hospital.

I especially remember how much Mom enjoyed the game and listening to me sing along with the Rolling Stones as they performed in the halftime show. She then commented to me that we didn’t even know if we’d won anything in the pool!

When we were growing up, Mom would always tell my sister and me that she felt she would win something big before she died, and we’d just laugh it off as if she were psychic.

The next morning, I got a call from Chrissy, who told me that we won $10,000 for the halftime score. I flipped out! I was so excited — I called Mom at the hospital, where my sister, Joan, was by her side and told her we’d won, and that I was on my way there so we could celebrate.

She was so happy to share our moment of joy! Sadly, she passed away three days later.

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She had endured a lot, but never complained and showed my sister and me just how much strength and courage are possible in the face of difficult times.

That experience was a life lesson like no other. I will never forget the tender moments we shared that day and will always treasure the little time we had together to embrace the joy of winning.