Sarcoma Story: Jackie Middleton

Jackie and John Middleton

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Type of Sarcoma: Leiomyosarcoma
Date of Diagnosis: 2004

Today we stand here with a great deal of sadness, pain, and grief brought forth by the loss that we face. Mom was beyond what we can express to you. Simply acknowledging that she was an amazing wife, mother, daughter, sister, grandmother, and friend does not do her justice. To us, not only was she the most amazing mother, but she also was our best friend.  

Matt, Marcus, Molly and I are so lucky and honored to be able to call her our mother. The question always exists – would you rather know your time or simply live until the day God decides He has place for you? Mom did both. Seven years ago, mom was diagnosed with Leiomyosarcoma, a rare cancer known for its aggressive nature. From day one Mom decided to fight with all that she had, living everyday to the fullest with grace, beauty, and modesty.

Dad was not only her rock, but he was also on the front lines, every day, fighting right along with her, never leaving her side. They are best friends. Mom and Dad were not two people, they were one – the perfect mix. Their relationship will always be a tremendous inspiration to us all – a love story; their love was built on trust, friendship, honesty, and most of all humor. They could laugh. For those of you who don’t know Dad, he has this incredible Middleton tendency to tell a joke more than once, twice, even three times. For 31 years, Mom was the first person to laugh at Dad’s jokes; she would laugh like she was hearing it for the very first time, and she was sincere. When Mom looked at dad her eyes sparkled, her smile was enough to warm the room; it was obvious that he was her everything.  

Mom was always there in the most selfless way. Such a simple person, she would never ask for more than to be with those she loved. That is truly what made Mom the happiest, surrounding herself with her family and friends, and in turn she conveyed that liveliness to us. Whether it was dancing to ABBA at the lake, or trying to get a word in at a Middleton gathering (John I was talking!), her energy and general zest for life could make anyone’s day.

  Mom grew up in Wadena, Minn., and was raised by two amazing parents, Grandpa Don and Grandma Julie. She was the oldest of three girls and cherished her little sisters, Vicki and Mary Jo. Mom graduated from Wadena High School in 1970, after being crowned Homecoming Queen, and believe me, she never let us forget it. In 2008, Molly, my little sister, was nominated for homecoming queen at Mounds View High School. After leaving without the crown, Mom made a quick phone call to Vicki stating; “Well sis, it turns out there is still only room for one queen in this house.” We are comforted now knowing that mom is seated in Heaven proudly wearing her beautiful crown, her gorgeous smile shining through the clouds warming each of our souls.  

Mom is not only precious to us, her family, but as displayed today by all of you in attendance, Mom has an incredible group of friends. She had this ability to meet someone and make them feel like they had known her for years. People were drawn to Her warm, genuine, positive character. In 27 years, I have never heard Mom speak a negative word about anyone. Mom’s friends meant the world to her; if you were to come to our home, you would see picture frames filled with memories and good times you all shared with her. The amount of love, support and never ending encouragement given to Mom by this amazing group of people was overwhelming. One can only hope to experience friendships such as these.  

I’m Mom enjoyed spending time with all of her friends in different ways, but one of the things she looked forward to the most was traveling on the motorcycle with Dad, and Tom and Bethanne Zimmerman. Dad and Tom would gas up the bikes and pack the gear, which usually consisted of an over abundance of Mom’s shoes; Dad was always quick to point this out. Mom and Bethann would get dolled up in their best biker attire, climb on the back of the bikes and the four of them would head up to Bluefin Bay. She cherished these times and often shared these memories with us, grinning from ear to ear as she recalled the stories.   I could tell hundreds of stories just like this from trips to Chicago with the girls to Gourmet Dinner Club, having the ladies at Bay Lake, or gossiping with the walking group. Although Mom is no longer with us, I know that the love she has for all of her special friends will live on forever.  

Mom has six beautiful grandchildren: Cassidy, Katie, Tristan, Jonathan, Zachary, and Paxton. Gramma Jackie was so very special to each of them, and of course Mom adored them all.  Mom was never a material person, but when it came to the Grandkids, there were no limits. She loved spoiling them. Although Mom wasn’t able to spend every holiday, birthday or special event with the kids, she absolutely loved putting together Easter baskets, shopping for birthday and Christmas presents, and buying special treats here and there. She would wrap them up and send them through the mail, always making sure they would arrive right on time. Spending summers at the lake with the Grandkids were among some of Mom’s favorite memories. Watching the girls jump off the dock, the boys play baseball in the yard, taking the whole gang to Paul Bunyan, she looked forward every summer to the kids pulling in the driveway. You all were so precious to Gramma, and although she couldn’t be with you, I wanted you to know that she loved you so, so much.  

There is obviously no possible way to express or summarize Mom’s time here on Earth. The most common word I hear when people describe mom is Angel. She truly was an angel here on Earth, and now, she has gone to be anAngel in Heaven. Mom’s warmth, grace, and strength is an inspiration to us all. An important piece of advice she used to give us as kids was to always look at the positive side of life. She would say the glass can be half empty or half full, it simply depends on how you want to look at it. Not only did she give the best advice but she also illustrated it. Through her kind words and actions and continuous thoughts for others, Mom never stopped giving. She gave life and spirit to us when we were down, she comforted us and gave advice when we needed it most, and she gave support and hope to our problems while she was battling the greatest fight of all. And mostly she gave her all to make our house a home.  She gave all of her love, all of her smiles, all of her energy, all of her life…to us. As the most selfless and lively person we know, she will live on in all of us. Her kind words and lively spirit will inspire us to do better, to be kinder, and to give more to those we love.   We struggled when trying to think of a way to close, just like saying goodbye, there is always one more thing to say, one more hug to give. While searching for a way to conclude, we came across a poem that our niece Cassidy had posted for her Gramma the day that Mom passed. It is perfect.   The Middletown family have established an RIS Named Fund. To contribute, please select “Jackie J. Middletown Fund” from the drop-down menu on our secure donation page.

God saw you getting tired
and a cure was not to be
so He put His arms around you
and whispered, “Come to Me”
With tearful eyes we watched you
and saw you pass away
and although we love you dearly
we could not make you stay
A golden heart stopped beating
hard working hands at rest.
God broke our hearts to prove to us
He only takes the best

Eulogy for Jackie Middleton by her daughters Courtney and Molly