My mother lives on

Ryan called her his "superhero mom." Every day, he sat at her bedside. Each evening as he left, he called out "I love you mom." At 24, Ryan was bracing for the day his superhero mom would leave him.

Because of St. Joseph's my mother lives on

Valerie Teetzel, who raised two boys as a single mom, was diagnosed with a brain tumour and given six months to live. The 43-year-old defied the odds in a battle that brought her to Parkwood Hospital, where family surrounded her and where she prepared to say goodbye. The sweet voice of music therapist Jill Kennedy-Tufts helped her to do so, turning words of love into a living legacy.

Upon Valerie's request, Jill took a poem written by Valerie's sister, Debbie, and put it to music. She recorded the song and created a CD as a gift for Valerie's family to play at her funeral. The music Jill wrote is soft and soothing. Strumming her guitar, she sang it for the first time at Valerie's bedside. Eyes closed, Valerie listened. At the end, she applauded, slowly, silently.

"It's a heartfelt melody you can feel under your toes," says Valerie's mom, Trudy.

When Ryan heard it for the first time, he cried.

The portable recording equipment can be brought to the bedside, allowing terminally ill patients to create a uniquely personal gift for family or friends. Personal stories, poetry, life wisdom, music or other special messages become a living legacy celebrating the patient's life, providing empowerment for the patient, and offering support to both patient and loved ones. It's a labour of love that helps family and friends cope.

"I loved her very much," says Ryan of his mom. "The song is something I will cherish forever. Thank you, Parkwood, for this amazing gift."

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