As I sit here writing, overlooking the water, I am reminded that my view of the Gulf is quite similar to what Thomasina saw just three weeks prior. It’s the same ocean that allowed her to exhale, even just for a moment, to take in what life had given her. I wonder if those same differentiating blues spanning for miles, reminded her that there was something bigger than herself waiting on the other side? A next chapter.
A little over a month ago KWF Columbus Chapter lead, Irene Adams surprised Thomasina with a very special gift, unknowingly, a last vacation. Irene met Thomasina and her son Kalomo at a fun chicken joint in town, along with her nominator, Yvonne. Yvonne was her acupuncturist who realized there weren’t many people who deserved a gift more than Thomasina. So when she was presented with a vacation to sunny South Florida, in true KWF fashion - she said YES. Thomasina and Kalomo would be heading to the Sea Cliff Hotel in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea!
Despite an aggressive cancer diagnosis with a limited timeline, Thomasina knew the importance of making the most of her time with the people she loved and a few happy strangers as well.
Thomasina and Kalomo made a myriad of beautiful memories on that trip. However, it was a moment with one of those ‘strangers’ that stuck with us the most. One early morning, Eva, general manager of the Sea Cliff Hotel, got up before the sun to surprise Thomasina. Eva presented Thomasina with flowers, fruits and chocolates as they both watched the sunrise from their balcony overlooking the ocean. A moment the three of them will never forget.
You see, Eva is like a second mother to KWF’s South Florida Chapter lead, Tyler Smillie. Tyler, a rising star in the private banking industry, shared the KWF vision with Eva and boom, she was hooked.
Tyler, whose beautiful mom, Kathi passed from breast cancer when he was young, now honors her through KWF. With just a handful of Tyler’s friends and colleagues, he’s been successful at building a vibrant chapter in South Florida. Although Kathi is no longer physically with us, her spirit lives on through the generosity of friends, family and (once again) happy strangers. People who know the importance of a good cup of coffee, overlooking the peaceful waves at sunrise.
Shortly after Thomasina returned from Florida, it was her time. She passed away on Tuesday, November 23rd, less than two weeks after her memorable trip. Up until that very last moment, Thomasina and her son delighted in the memories they created on that last vacation together. Thomasina truly embodied what it meant to be LIVING with cancer. Like my mom, Karen, and Tyler’s mother, Kathi - she focused on the good, on making the most of this life and the time she had left.
And because of givers like you, she had the opportunity to watch one last sunrise with her son and a new friend to share her journey with. She had the gift of time in the palm of her hands and the beautiful opportunity to say one final, resounding, YES.
A word from Thomasina’s nominator, Yvonne
“She had been told that there was nothing more that could be done for her and that she should contact hospice. Thomasina was the most gracious, positive, loving person - never complaining or lamenting her fate. She spoke lovingly of her family and all who helped her become the person she was and moved forward to the unknown with grace and class. She was a gem and a teacher of how to look adversity in the eye and be grateful for it all.” -Yvonne Woodson