I write many blogs about my Mom because she and my Dad were not only my parents; they were my mentors and biggest support.
Mom grew up in New York and was raised strictly by a wealthy father and a loving mother who were an arranged marriage. My grandmother, whom I never met and so wish I had, and grandfather met on the night of their wedding. I always thought that strange. But, that was how it was done back then.
My mom had one sibling, “Nana”. Aunt Mary was older than my mom but was close, always. Nana had a smile and an “Oh! How sweet” for all. She has passed on as well as my parents, although it was always a joy to have her visit or go back to New York to see her.
Momma was the glue that held my two siblings and I, cousins, my Dad’s family altogether. When my two siblings and I grew up and married, had kids of our own and moved away, she was always just a phone call away. My parents would come to visit many times and was with me when I had my first child at age 18 and then again at age 21. Momma would come and stay with us and cook, clean, make sure that myself and the babies were healthy.
My parent’s marriage was a huge blessing. Theirs was a marriage I had always dreamed of. Totally in love for 50 years until Dad lost his battle with cancer in 1997. He was in the Navy, went to college to become an engineer and together they made great sacrifices. He, by working and going to college and she by taking care of my brother and sister by herself (before I was born), with my sister being very sick and Momma’s health was not being good, either. Those were tough years for my parents, but they did it together.
After my Dad died in 1997, my momma was diagnosed with breast cancer. I lived closest to her in Colorado and so weekly we would go for her radiation treatments. She beat cancer, but the radiation wore her immune system down so low that she came down with tuberculosis. For a solid year, she was on oxygen, breathing tubes, medicine that filled a basket. My brother and I would both take care of her at her home where she and Dad lived before he died. She also had a day nurse and caretaker. Momma would sit in her recliner in front of her front window, day after day, doing what she needed to do to stay alive and get through the tuberculosis.
She made it, finally, although she was then 76 years old and tired of being sick. She wanted to live again. My brother went to see her one day and she said to him “I’m ready. I want to move out of this house”.
She had great and very fond memories inside that home of family, laughter, grandchildren. But she also had the last years of much pain without my Dad and illness. She had my siblings and I help her move into a great assisted living care home just within miles of where my 2nd husband and I lived. She prepared ahead of time in her most almost perfected way, organizing all her paper work, pictures, crafts, things to give to we children and grandchildren.
The home was very nice. It was a large apartment in a high rise that was her’s where she could cook and live comfortably .She loved my 2nd husband, Jake. If anything concerned her about the home, she would call Jake and have him come fix it for her. In fact, he would go visit her every Tuesday, rain or shine. I was always working and did not get over to see her as much as he did and she also knew that, after helping her take care of my Dad for 18 months, I did not want to see her ill in any way. Selfish on my part? Yes. I was protecting myself from watching another parent go.
Her Dr. of many years, one that took care of her through her asthma, COPD, cancer and tuberculosis had put her on a very strong anti-depressant to “get her through the move” and then planned to take her off of it. I questioned that many times as a wrong call. I have nursing in my background and knew that at her age, in her condition, that was not the right prescription for her. I was correct. Momma started changing. Her moods were high and low. She began to hallucinate months after moving into new home.
I would tell her “Momma, I’m going to call your Dr. and ask her why she has you on these medications. They are not good for you” and she would change the subject telling me how she wanted to start meeting her neighbors and dining with them in the main dining room on the bottom floor at night. “I wonder what people are wearing these days?” She was a seamstress for years and very on top of fashion until older.
I had a great conversation with her on the telephone one day for two hours. She was very alert that day. We talked about my teenage years, family and laughed like two silly girls. Best conversation I ever had with my mom. Two days later, I got the call that she had passed. A sudden heart attack while taking a shower. That was a day that took my siblings and I, her friends, close family’s heart along with her.
She has been gone for several years now and it is ironic that I find myself quoting all the sayings “My momma used to say……” that she would say. I have grown to love to do crafts now as she did all her life. The memories of her and me singing together in church, the family dinners. I miss her more now than I ever have. And yet, it is because I also know it’s “time to move on”.
Just like she knew in her total being that she could no longer stay in a home that was once her Heaven on earth, she had to move away to start living again. And that she did.
“It happens to everyone as they grow up. You find out who you are and what you want, and then you realize that people you’ve known forever don’t see things the way you do. So you keep the wonderful memories, but find yourself moving on.”— Nicholas Sparks