Editor’s note: On Mother’s Day, we think about the one woman, and sometimes women, who shaped our lives. Linda Dodge’s mom left an indelible impression on her – she lost her to pancreatic cancer in 2019. Linda included PanCAN in her Will so other pancreatic cancer patients will have a chance for more time with their families.
Mighty Mouse. That’s what the kids in the rural town of Walden, Colo. called Linda’s mom.
Gladys Dodge was short, smart, tough, athletic, and a disciplinarian. She was also kind and loving. The kids adored her.
She and her husband, Harold, raised their children, Linda and Jeff, in the small town of 800. Gladys made sure she offered them every opportunity to broaden their world, starting with music.
Gladys had perfect pitch and was an accomplished pianist and organist, earning her bachelor’s degree in music at the University of Wyoming. She had high expectations of her children. Every morning began with a 6 am breakfast and 30-60 minutes of music practice.
For 27 years, Gladys taught kindergarten at the local school – she also gave piano lessons after school from 4-6 p.m. She taught the children of children she had already had in kindergarten and was a favorite among all ages. Linda’s friends affectionately called her mom “Mama Dodge.”
Gladys accompanied church services and all musical events for grades K-12. She even baked and provided refreshments. She was dedicated to her garden and single-handedly put a lawn in front of each of the three homes they lived in.
She knew she wanted to make a donation to PanCAN.
Linda seriously researches the charities she supports. “PanCAN consistently receives four-star ratings from Charity Navigator – it’s one of the best-managed charities I’ve found. The team goes above and beyond, doing everything to find the answers to this disease,” Linda said.
Linda included PanCAN in her Will and her dad made a donation, too, in memory of the mighty woman they loved. She said it would make her mom happy.
“My mom was my best friend. I loved her so much and I miss her every day,” Linda said.
Her mom and dad were married for 67 years. Every day, they held hands and walked to the mailbox, even when she was sick. They watched sports holding hands and even fell asleep holding hands. “They were devout Christians and hard-working people. I was glad to see them enjoy more of life when they retired – they spent a lot of time golfing together,” Linda said.
One of her favorite memories is tied to the three-hour one-way driving trips her mom would make with Linda and Jeff each Saturday for their private music lessons.
“Sometimes we’d stop for donuts and hot chocolate – that was always a treat.
“When I was young, Dad worked as a milkman and Jeff and I would work for him delivering dairy and bread products after school. My parents gave us everything they could and were great role models for us,” Linda said.
She said she’s grateful her mom raised her to be a strong, independent woman.
Linda believes in PanCAN’s mission to take bold action to improve the lives of everyone impacted by pancreatic cancer. She doesn’t want anyone to go through what she did. “Contact PanCAN. Don’t give up hope.”