(WASHINGTON) -- Kristin Sampson had to tell her mother that she and her husband of three years were expecting their third child while her mom was in the hospital.
"We thought she had pneumonia; it ended up being cancer," Sampson said of her late mother, Geraldine Joyner Morgan. "When we told her, it wasn’t a big deal because we knew she would be home but she ended up getting a surgery right after her 69th birthday and she passed away on July 16."
Sampson's mother would never get to meet her daughter, Kara Joy Sampson, who was born two months later.
Still, her newborn daughter's life was heavily influenced by Morgan from the very start, Sampson said.
In fact, Morgan, who was an educator for 20 years in the Prince George's County school system in Maryland, helped plan Kara's baby shower. Morgan came up with the shower theme -- cherry blossoms -- while being treated with chemotherapy at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
"We were just tring to do something to lift her spirits ... and get her mind off of chemo," Sampson, 33, recalled. "She came up with the cherry blossom theme and she came up with Kara's name."
Sampson said she only realized after her mother passed away that cherry blossoms "symbolize fragility of life and that life is beautiful but it's short."
Kara Joy -- her middle name is short for Morgan's maiden name -- was born on Sept. 15. It just so happened to be the same day Ernest Morgan, Sampson's dad, celebrated his own birthday. It was a welcome birthday present for him, Sampson said.
"My parents were married for 45 years and it was his first birthday without my mom," the Bowie, Maryland, woman explained. "So it was a real blessing to have Kara born on his birthday."
To honor her late mother, Sampson said she tapped professional photographer Nikki Cee to do a newborn photo shoot. One photo, which went viral on Facebook, shows baby Kara touching a framed picture of Morgan. In the photo, baby Kara is also holding "the pearls that belonged to [Sampson's] mother," Cee, 31, added.
The photographer, who's been staging newborn photo shoots in her Greenbelt, Maryland, studio for three years, said she also had baby Kara don an angel wings costume to make the photo complete.
"It was so hard to take that picture and not cry," Cee admitted.
Sampson said that she loved the way Cee captured the relationship between her newborn daughter and her late mother.
"When people are working within their gift they're making a difference -- like Nikki did with her photography and like my mom did with her [school] kids," Sampson said. "My mother had extraordinary faith and that's kind of what helped her fight cancer and how she approached life."
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