Visit Turned Nightmare

The trip to Florida to visit my Mom after moving to Montana last year turned out to be what would be our last. I submitted her non-standard obituary this morning to her local paper...

Only I could write the obituary for Helen F. “Cookie” Sawyer who died on July 19, 2021.

She was my Mom. And if she knew I was doing this she would be furious.

There was to be no funeral, no celebration, and no obituary.

So what kind of daughter would I be if I didn’t at least disobey one rule?

At 79, my Mom left this life because of a brain tumor. Her diagnosis was cruel and her time after that diagnosis was brief at only two months. She faced this horrible cancer with the bravery and courage I would have expected. During the days after the diagnosis, she stated that this was the first challenge that she faced that she could not come up with a plan to tackle it. All of my life I watched her tackle challenge after challenge and there were not many that she could not overcome but this one had her stumped. We would spend the time she had left together and I am grateful to have been able to be there for her until the end.

Her love of sports ran deep. The University of Florida Gators were her favorite. For many years she was a three-sport season ticket holder and traveled to many an away game throughout the SEC. She attended bowl games as far as Tempe, Arizona, and never once in the years of disappointment did her love wane. She loved March Madness, The College World Series, and all the college bowl games. Her love extended to many other Gator sports as well and she could rattle off details back from many years on coaches and players. Her love of the NFL Dallas Cowboys goes back to the 60s and she stuck by them no matter the record each season.

Her love of music was incredible. Her favorite being Neil Diamond and she saw him in concert many times along with Rod Stewart, Cher, Elton John, and many more. I will always remember music playing in our house rather than a television blaring. And she loved the volume turned up. She liked nearly every genre of music except for what she called the twangy country. One of the funniest memories was discovering that she liked Billy Idol and even has one of his albums.

The outdoors was a place of solace for her and she loved working in her yard. She loved birds, had many bird feeders, and looked forward each season to the different birds coming around. Some of her favorites were hummingbirds, cardinals, sandhill cranes, and titmouse. If there was a bird in her sights she would always seek to identify. She always loved animals, cats in particular.

She loved her Baby Girl, that’s me and I know she stayed brave to the end because of me.

She retired from the University of Florida in 2007 with previous employment at Nationwide Insurance, Alachua County School Board, Sears (Roebuck & Co.), J Hillis Miller Health Center (Shands), and Publix. She leaves behind a daughter Valerie L. Cason and four sisters Frances Bailey; Cathy Points; Jane Colvin and Deb Holdsworth.

Donations in memory of Helen can be made to Haven Foundation, 4200 NW 90th Blvd, Gainesville, FL 32606-3809

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