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Rhonda Ross is planning to write the next chapter in her life that includes a mission trip as a way to honor her mother, who died last November.
Born in Elizabethtown, Ross makes her home in Sonora in LaRue County and remembers developing a love for writing and storytelling.
“Mom always wrote poems,” Ross said.
Ross said she enjoyed hearing and telling stories and began journaling at a young age.
“I never considered myself a writer,” she said.
As an adult, she saw books on local history in a store and thought she could write one. The result was a book published in a series called “Images of America” about LaRue County history, published in 2007.
A few years ago, Ross’ mother, Patricia Hornback, went on a mission trip with Gilead Baptist Church to Solomon’s Porch Retreat Center in Lynch, a community in eastern Kentucky. Solomon’s Porch houses ministry teams and youth groups, among other things. The mission included providing books, toys and clothing to those in need, and Hornback noticed the children went straight for the clothes and shoes.
“The toys would be the last things they’d look at,” Ross said.
Hornback told her daughter how much that trip meant to her.
What Hornback hadn’t told her daughter was that doctors found a spot on Hornback’s lung that was supposed to be followed up with a PET scan, which she didn’t do. By 2008, after another visit to the doctor, the spot had gotten bigger.
Although Hornback had been a nurse at one time, she did not want to pursue treatment.
“She prayed about it and felt she would be fine,” Ross said.
Eventually, Hornback went back for a lung biopsy in July 2013 and received news that the cancer spread to her liver, femur, vertebrae and brain, Ross said. Still, Hornback did not want to undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatments, Ross said, noting her mother didn’t even originally tell her the cancer had spread to her brain.
When Hornback finally agreed to radiation treatment, she began getting better.
Throughout about a three-month period, Ross was a primary caregiver to her mother, getting help from her husband, Tim, and a few others, including her son and daughter, Victoria and Alexander, and her brother, Stephen Hornback.
During this time, Patricia Hornback often expressed her desire to continue doing exercises she believed she was supposed to be doing. On one occasion, about September, the conversation turned to the mission trip from years earlier.
“She said, ‘I wish I could do that again,’” Ross said.
That gave Ross the idea to make plans to take her mother on another mission trip to Lynch. She told her mother they would take not one, but two semi-trucks filled with donations to Lynch.
The discussion, Ross said, made her mother’s eyes light up.
“She got all excited,” Ross said. “She started crying.”
By October, Hornback’s health began declining, and her memory began failing. She died Nov. 2.
Ross wants to honor her mom by following through with the mission trip. She has started seeking support to make it happen, sending letters to area churches.
Making the journey has created mixed feelings for Ross, since it was something she planned to do with her mom.
So far, health issues and lack of support have slowed progress on arranging the mission, but Ross is determined to be successful.
“I’d like to do it before the year’s up,” she said.
Already she has made initial contact with someone in Lynch who told her the mission would be welcomed, Ross said. Now it is a matter of coordinating the donations and transportation, but her husband has a CDL, and she knows people who have semis, she said.
Tim Ross expressed pride in his wife’s writing, citing the letters to the churches. He also cited qualities that make his wife outstanding.
“She’s very encouraging,” Tim said. “God has really put her in my life.”
While she said she will seek to balance her life in order to complete plans for the mission trip, she also plans to finish a novel she has started, pen an inspirational book about her mother and maybe try her hand at a children’s book.
Ross expressed faith in her goals. She feels she has seen proof of her faith.
“The Lord has given me gifts,” Ross said.
Robert Villanueva can be reached at 270-505-1743 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A FEW WORDS ABOUT RHONDA ROSS