My mother was born Cecelia “Cece” Rae Cuevas in San Diego on Nov. 26, 1950. She began a life-long hobby of crocheting shortly after I was born in 1981 and often made blankets, shawls and the occasional purse and beanie, which she gave away as birthday presents and holiday gifts. One day she made one specifically for a homeless man. I still have my shawl, which I call “my blankie” that she made for me when I was three years old.
Given up for adoption at age four, her foster parents tried to raise her, but were not the best caregivers. Consequently, her life transformed into a complicated fictional world that became more a part of her reality as time went on.
My mother took up bowling as a teenager, which is how she met my father. In 1970 they bowled at Chula Vista Cabrillo Lanes in the same league, though they didn’t know each other. After being introduced by a mutual friend, it was only natural for the only two single people to hit it off. In September of 1971 my father asked my mother on a date to bowl as his doubles partner in an upcoming tournament.
Two years later she bowled in a tournament at La Mesa Lomita Lanes, as my father supported her from the audience. Bowling strike after strike, she finally realized in the tenth frame that she had a chance to score a perfect 300. She threw two more strikes then on the last throw she pulled it right on the nose and left the No. 3 pin, which the manager of the Lanes gave to her as a memento. It still sits on the fireplace in my parent’s home.
My parents married on Aug. 4, 1973. My father said they had two or three great years of marriage, until she began showing signs of psychological problems. I’ve always remembered my mother having issues including bi-polar disorder, paranoid schizophrenia, alcoholism and the cutting disease. Over the years, she was treated for all of these illnesses and the morning she passed, Wednesday, July 28, the paramedics took 22 prescription drugs with them.
I remember that my mother had a vigorous laugh, much like my own. She loved the Padres, watching the news, bowling, boxing and gory horror films. (We had the latter in common.) She was a difficult person to get to know and she made it increasingly harder the last few years.
Her condition deteriorated and the family split up in 2009. Her problems eventually became too much for us to cope with and while she continued to push us away, ultimately, she got her wish. My mother died alone, though it was not without our love. We comforted her with our constant prayers, happy memories and hopeful thoughts that she would return to us one day.
Not everyone was blessed to see the mother and wife that we knew. There were plenty of bad times, but often the clouds would seem to part at just the right times. She showed us kindness, thoughtfulness, gratitude and love through her beautiful words of grace and compassion in poetry and cards. My mother wanted so badly to be healed of her illnesses, but something inside of her would not let her go long enough for us to see the real person we all knew was being held captive inside.
We watched her struggle for numerous years as she went in and out of Alcoholics Anonymous, behavioral health institutes and psychiatrists’ doors. No amount of drugs would have cured her. The illness that she faced was one that was self-fed.
She will be missed greatly by those she left behind including her husband, Terry J. SampitŽ, daughters Veronica and myself, mother-in-law Joyce A. Schwartz, and her brother-in-law Dennis SampitŽ.
But today she is no longer suffering. Today she is gone. Only memories are left. We will never forget our mother, friend, wife and child of God.
Rest in peace, Mama.
Sampite is a staff writer for The Star-News.