WELLS — Stephanie Woods is preparing for a special day: her high school graduation.

And while her fraternal twin, Amanda, two brothers and her father ”“ as well as extended family ”“ will be there to celebrate it with her, one person will be noticeably missing.

Her mother.

Woods says she lost her mother to brain cancer, when she was just 11 years old. Although it was difficult, she said it’s her mother who has driven her all these years to do her best in school, athletics and all of the other endeavors to which she commits.

“If she were here, and I had bad grades, she’d be right on top of it,” said the honor roll student. “I do everything for her.”

That includes her future career.

After the summer, Woods and her twin sister will head to The University of Maine in Orono, and she plans to study nursing. Her mother was a nurse, she said, and she feels the experience her family had dealing with the cancer will help her in her profession.

“I want to specialize in pediatric oncology,” she said, “because I know what it’s like.”

The experience did bring she and her siblings closer together. Although she is used to sharing with her twin, Woods said she is close with her two older brothers as well. One of them is engaged, which she said is exciting.

There are certainly times that it’s tough not to have their mother around ”“ like prom and her upcoming commencement ceremony.

“I’ll be like, ”˜Wow, I wish my mom were here,” she says at those times, but Woods remains positive.

“Things just go how they go,” she said.

The three-sport athlete ”“ playing soccer, basketball and softball in high school ”“ isn’t worried too much about college. She’s managed to balance her schoolwork with practice and games, school clubs and volunteering. She says the key to keeping it all in order is making a schedule.

“You definitely have to learn time management.”

She’s not the only one who has confidence in her time management skills.

“Stephanie is a tremendous young lady. She has done an outstanding job over the last four years providing leadership for her peers,” said Principal Jim Daly, in a recent email. “She always has a positive attitude, and we will miss her next year.”

Over the summer, she will have to manage her work schedule ”“ she’s a waitress at Mabel’s Lobster Claw in Kennebunkport ”“ and soak up some time at home with family and friends, including her father, Steve, who works for the postal service.

Come fall, she’ll be starting on the path to becoming a registered nurse, and she’s know there’s not much that can be done about what life will throw at her ”“ an outlook she got from her mother.

“She always used to say, ”˜Ride with the tide, and go with the flow.’”

It will be a bittersweet come Sunday when Woods ”“ clad in cap and gown ”“ makes that grand march to accept her diploma, but she knows that her mother is always with her.

“She wouldn’t want me to stop living because she’s not here.”

— City Editor Robyn Burnham Rousseau can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or [email protected]

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