Niagara Gazette —
She only had a few last wishes, and one of them was the videos. When I heard that, I couldn't help thinking about how to make it up to her children — give them something that they could look back on when they wanted to remember their mom. The only thing I could think to do was to let Ronda's friends share a few words about Ronda so that, at least, some of the many stories about her would be on record in these pages for all time.
One of her very best friends, Ann Marie DiMino Hepfer, made it a point to visit Ronda every day, driving from her DeVeaux neighborhood to Lewiston to say good morning and good night. She told me how Ronda was always trying to stay positive through her illnesses and through all the struggles somehow managed to pull her little family closer. How Ronda's face would light up every time her daughter, Andrea, came into the room and how Ronda's son, Zach, a hockey player for Lewiston-Porter, made a goal during a game recently and raised his fist to the sky as if to say, "this one is for you mom."
"I'm happy because she's out of pain, but I'm going to miss going there every day," said Ann Marie, who told me she learned the meaning of courage from Rhonda in a long friendship which she said has "totally changed me."
She was there at Ronda's peaceful passing at Niagara Hospice, with about 40 other family members and friends, and now Ann Marie cannot quite believe the hole that is left in her own heart.
"Her daughter, Andrea, tells me all the time, it will be fine because 'my mother is going to live on, through me,'" Ann Marie said, her voice filled with admiration for the young girl with a ready smile, just like her mother.