Shawna’s Tribute to Her Mother

My mother was a fighter, and she fought fiercely.  She fought for her family, to raise two daughters by herself.  She fought to raise us to be independent women and she always taught us that we could do what we wanted to do and be who we wanted to be.

She taught us by word, deed and example.  For example, she read the entire final draft of my dissertation looking for errors.  I’ve never met any friend or colleague who has had a family member read their entire dissertation, for any reason.  She visited my sister Lara and her husband, Ed in Tucson, Arizona twice a year for the last 15 years, and she swore that it was to see Lara, not just to expand her year list.  She visited me when I was living in both Greece and Italy, and she swore that it was to see me, and not just to expand her life list.

Which brings me to her true passion, her vocation, birding.  She fought fiercely to do what she wanted to do, at any time of the day or night going out to see that rare, or not-so-rare bird.  She fought fiercely to be a teacher and a mentor to so many others that shared her passion that I cannot possibly conceive of the number.

The tributes that have been coming in for the last days have truly overwhelmed both my sister and me.  I never really comprehended the extent of her presence in the birding community until I was lucky enough to live with her for the last 3 ½ years and see some of it for myself.  I am extremely grateful to my mother’s birding family for the loving support they have extended to my sister and me, and of course for all of the joy that you brought to my mother.

Mom did all of this while fighting fiercely against metastatic breast cancer for eleven years, far longer than any doctor would have anticipated.  She birded up until about two months ago, and I firmly believe that that helped her to stay vibrant and strong for so long.  So I hope that you will all remember her fight, her passion and her love for us all, and for my mother, I wish you all good birding.  Thank you.

Shawna Leigh

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