Forget Me Not: Dedicating appreciation to Sherry on Mother’s Day

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Mother’s Day is Sunday, and I have an enormous amount of love and respect for my mother, Sherry Rae Middlemiss.

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Noelle Leavitt Riley

Life has not been physically easy on her, but she manages to trek through and remain a beautiful ball of positive energy and a shining light in mine and my family’s lives.

She was diagnosed with severe scoliosis when she was a young child and underwent her first surgery at the Mayo Clinic when she was 13 years old. She was one of several children to go through experimental surgeries for kids with spine disorders.

Not only did she have to be brave, but she also learned at a very young age what it was like to be in constant pain. After her surgery, she was required to wear a body cast for a year. Can you imagine wearing a body cast for a whole year at that age — heck, any age? She’s told me how difficult and somewhat horrifying it was to function, especially in the summer.

My mother remained strong and positive with the help of my grandfather Bob Almer and my late grandmother Abigail Rae Almer. My grandparents were by her side every step of the way, loving her, encouraging her and helping her become a tough and tenacious woman.

That’s what parents are supposed to do for their children, and that’s exactly what my wonderful mother did and continues to do for me on a daily basis. I have so much love and respect for her.

Since her teenage years, she’s had five surgeries on her back. Four years ago, she had her entire spine fused. She now only can bend at her neck and lower back and a good pain day for her on a scale of one to 10 typically is a seven.

I wanted to write about my mother for this Forget Me Not column — a column typically dedicated to the elderly — because of all she does (despite her pain) for her elderly father and what she did for her mother before she passed away 1 1/2 years ago.

Although my amazing mom can’t work because of her scoliosis, she’s dedicated her life to caring for her parents despite how difficult it is as she fights pain.

You never hear her complain about her back situation, even though it’s apparent she’s in constant agony. What a trooper.

I’m not sure people in her life give her enough credit. I’m not sure I give her enough credit. So this Mother’s Day, I want to publicly say thank you to my mother.

Mom, you’ve taught me how to be a loving and caring human being. Your guidance has helped me form the Forget Me Not mission, which is to give back to society and to always treat people — especially the elderly — with respect and compassion.

I would not be the enthusiastic, optimistic person I am without all you have shown me. You have set such an amazing example for me to follow. I don’t always tell you how much I admire you, but I do, as I’m outlining it in a column dedicated to you for the whole world to read.

I love you with all my heart.

Noelle Leavitt Riley is the managing editor of the Craig Daily Press and the Saturday Morning Press. She and her husband, Shawn Riley, run the Forget Me Not organization, where they take donated flowers to the elderly in nursing homes to let them know they’re not forgotten by society. She believes all mothers should be as amazing as hers.

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