Loretta Milligan

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May the light from the Love that was Loretta never grow dim....

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In Memory of Loretta Milligan

 

When my friend, Barbara Perry asked if Friends of Suzanne would be willing to help her friend and son's future mother-in-law who had been diagnosed with cancer, my reply was "of course".  I said, "You will have to head up the team, but we will be more than happy to help you out in any way possible.?  "Great, what kind of programs do you have?" said Barbara.   

 

Barbara sat in my living room, going thru a briefcase full of literature I had received over the previous few months, to see what type of fund raiser might appeal to her.  She found the Flower Bulb packet and began reading it intently.  She called me into the room, and said, "I think I would like to do this one and I think Loretta would like it too".

 

Barbara was passionate about the program, was off and running in no time.   She wrote up a lovely note, attached it to copies of the order form and orders started rolling in.  She said in her note, Flowers are a sign of life, and life is a critical part of the cancer patients healing.

 

She sold over 324 packets of bulbs and raised over $ 1600 in just over 3 weeks.  Half of the money collected went directy to Loretta; in what became her first monthly check from the organization.

 

I ran into Colleen, Barbara's daughter at an event after the sale was done, and she told me how proud she was of her mother, for organizing the event; as well as the success that it was.

 

In March we held our Walking with Friends walk-a-thon at Spruce Run Recreation area.  What a thrill for all of us on the team, when we were told that Loretta was going to make an attempt to be there.

 

Susan, her eldest daughter told me just this weekend that the morning of the event, she woke her mom, got her ready and her mom was excited about being able to be a part of the day's event.  When I met Loretta that day, she said to me. "what a wonderful thing you are doing for Suzanne".  I tried to explain to her that it was named to honor Suzanne, but we were here to help anyone with cancer, that came to us. 

 

By the time she left that morning, I believe she realized for the first time, that SHE was part of the reason we were holding the walk, and that she was JUST as important.

 

As the months passed, Barbara Perry, Donna Korleski (board member) and I met at least once a month to take Sue for a "gals nite out".  We would have dinner, get updates on Loretta, and also provide Sue an avenue to vent; to get away; and most importantly to know that she had a support group, who really cared about what was going on in HER life, as well as her mom's.

 

When I saw Loretta at her daughter Debbie's bridal shower I cannot tell you how wonderful she looked.  She was glowing and excited about the days events.    Proud "Mother of the Bride"

 

In early July, around the 4th, I was advised by Barbara that Loretta was in the hospital for pain management.  I asked Barbara if I could tag along when she went to visit Loretta. 

 

Loretta was in excellent spirits.  She said that she was NOT leaving the hospital until the pain was under control.  In true form for Loretta, she was nurturing the other patients on the floor.  She was giving guidance to a new cancer patient sister when Barbara and I arrived.  

 

Loretta made friends with both her room mate and her room mates daughter.  I understand that they even exchanged phone numbers, when they were leaving the hospital.

 

Barbara brought Loretta a beautiful bouquet of flowers all from the "bulb" sale and I brought one of our Noah's Ark Stuff-n-Fluff bears. 

 

Two days later, I went to visit Loretta again since I was getting ready to travel for two weeks and knew I would not be around.  When I walked in the room, there was Loretta in the bed, with her bear.  She told me that the bear came in handy.  When she pressed the buzzer for the nurse, they would come in, see what she wanted and then have to go get it ... Hope (as she later told me she named the bear) would then be pulled, twisted, and screamed into, until they could administer the pain meds.

 

I received a call from Susan that Loretta had been readmitted to the hospital.  I was not able to visit her because of travel, and then vacation.  By the time I was back home, I learned that Loretta was released; she would be going to Susan's home in White House and would be under the supervision of Hospice.

 

Sadly, this would begin the final leg of Loretta's journey. 

 

I was unable to visit Loretta the first day she was home, but did go over on Friday.  I returned to visit again on Sunday and I am so appreciative to the family, for allowing me to be there.

 

Loretta has touched my heart in a way that I never imagined when I founded Friends of Suzanne.  Her passion for life, her uncanny sense of humor, her love all of those she knew  . . . Loretta is one of the most special people I have ever met.

 

When I visited her in the hospital, as I was ready to leave she said, "I love you".  We had only met in person for the fourth time that day.  We had communicated thru her daughter, and if I have one regret, it would be that I was not able to spend more time with her, one-on-one.

 

Loretta left me a voice mail to tell me that she had named her bear Hope and added "You will never know how much what you are doing with Friends of Suzanne means to me", "Keep it going, I love you".

 

The genuine selflessness with which she lived her life will always be with me.  She has made me a better person, a stronger person.  She will forever be in my heart, and I will always remember her for being so supportive and loving to me.

 

Kathy Koltowski

Founder - Friends of Suzanne

 

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Loretta and her daughter Debbie at our first "Walking with Friends" held at Spruce Run Recreation Area, Clinton NJ in March 2005



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