Barbara Houston

August 15, 1937 - February 3, 2009

I've lived an incredible life, and looking back, I find myself grateful for every moment, past and present.

I've been fortunate to live in three countries, which has expanded my understanding of the world and the many cultures that make up this place we all call home.

Traveling has always been a great passion of mine, and I was fortunate to find a partner who loved it as much as I do. My advice to anyone thinking of marrying - travel together first. If you travel well together you will probably enjoy living together. Travel can bring out the best and the worst in all of us. Might as well discover that early on. I don't think marriage is for everyone, nor should it be. but being married to Ted for 25 years now has been one of the great joys of my life.

The other great joys are of course our children; Stephanie, Johanna, and Michael, and our grandkids; Faith, Max, Amanda, Oliver and David. I learned so much about myself being a mother. It wasn't always easy, but it was always worth it. My kids gave me my greatest joys and I've lived some of my deepest heartaches with them as well. The only thing I learned about myself as a grandma is that I love it even more than being a mom. It's all the fun, without the work. And I couldn't be more proud of the way my own children raise their kids.

I never thought I would hear myself say this, but one of the greatest gifts of my life was getting Cancer. That changed everything for me. All my life I've been the one to take care of others, to make sure things got done. I've been busy, life has been full and rewarding and I've been moving at a pretty fast pace.

Cancer changed all that for me. It didn't change who I am. It just helped me discover other sides of myself. I also discovered more about the people around me. For the first time I can remember I was the one in need. I had to rely on others. I had to not only accept help, but at times I had to reach out and ask for it directly. That has been a real challenge for me. It's taken courage to do it.

Cancer helped me simplify life. It's helped me get really clear on the things that mattered, and release my attachment to the things I thought mattered that really didn't - like my gorgeous grey hair and my eyelashes! It's amazing what you can learn to live without! I've had experiences because of Cancer that I don't know I would have had otherwise. I've enjoyed every minute of spending time with Max, my grandson, when he offered to be my driver to and from chemo treatments. I've loved tasting family recipes lovingly made by Jo and Steph and stocked in my freezer so I won't have to cook. I don't even taste if they added enough seasoning in the chicken soup, or if the lasagna is cheesy enough. I only taste the love!