My mother passed away this morning. She was 81 years old.
My mom was always a fighter & strong willed. I often thought that once she put her mind to something, no one short of God could change her mind. There was a reason for her toughness.
In 1949, she had not one but two operations that removed the lower lobes of both lungs. Lung operations in that day & age were often not survivable, but she beat the odds for both operations. It’s my impression that these operations were of last resort, anything but routine, and less that 10% survivable rate. And she was operated on twice!
Thus, she went through life with one-half of the breathing capacity of the rest of us. But that certainly didn’t slow her down. My father related to me that the doctors were absolutely against her becoming pregnant because of the risk to not only her, but to the baby as well. Once again, she defied the odds (and the doctors, I suspect), and here I am.
This does not mean that she was a strict, joyless person. Well, she was strict…but I also remember her enjoying going to garage sales looking for deals on Fenton Glass & other items for the house. She sewed & crafted, painted & created, taking justifiable pride in her house that she kept decorated with her treasures & creations.
And I remember Mom, Dad, and I sitting around the dining room table playing games. Sorry, Trouble, Rack-o, and Canasta were just a few of the games we played for hours on end. And yes, she was a cheerleader for her son’s Little League games, and supporter for the high-school band in which her son played. She loved her husband, her son, and her grandson with all her heart.
Like all families, we had our spats & disagreements, but she always stood on her principles of right and wrong, and she was more often right on just about anything. Perhaps that was maddening for some, but she was often a source of strength for others. I know she was for my Dad, and admittedly, for me as well.
It was hard to think of Mom as not being a strong person. Perhaps we, as children, always think of our parents as always being there for us even after we have moved out & started families of our own. It’s a severe mental adjustment for us to realize that our parents are mortal, people just like anyone else.
Mom had health issues most of her life, especially within the last five or six years. Her lungs were failing, and multiple infections with hospital visits over the past three months took their toll.
I visited with her this past Monday afternoon, and got her to smile once despite the obvious discomfort that she was having breathing. That afternoon, she was taken to the hospital where her condition steadily worsened. She was transferred to the hospice after my father and I talked to the doctor who confirmed there was nothing more that could be done except to make her comfortable. She reportedly passed peacefully this morning.
No matter what happens in my life, I will always remember that last little smile my Mother gave me, and the feeling of love that accompanied that smile.
Goodbye, Mom. I will always love you.