My Mom June 30, 1921 – May 22, 2013

My mom passed away on May 22 around 4:30 pm after a long, good life.  She will be missed on earth but always exist in our hearts.  It is not possible to write everything that was my Mom in a blog post.  But I do want to let you know more about her.

She was unique in so many ways.  Not many women of her generation were as big a sports fan as she was.  She loved to watch sports with us.  She would talk with us about teams.  And as she got along in life, no team was as important to her as the Mt. Union College Purple Raiders.

For a long time, she was the “family bookie” – running a family pro football pool where we all picked winners.  This started even before my kids were born.  But the kids did not have to be very old before they wanted to get into the football pool (We are a bit of a competitive family).  The person with the most picks right won  some small amount of money – but more importantly, a traveling plaque with your name on it as the champion that year.  My mom loved it because it gave us all something to talk about.  But more importantly for her, she got a note once a week from various family members along with their picks.  So she was caught up on everything that was going on with the extended family.

I can remember as a youngster that my mom’s car was always the best one to get into after the baseball games.  We’d pile a bunch of the players in the car (this was before everyone had to have a seatbelt) and “race” to be the first ones to the ice cream shop.  Win or lose the game, getting to the ice cream first was a big deal.  Mom always made that fun.

Playing cards, playing board games, the “family olympics” or doing charades, mom always wanted to make sure everyone was participating and that family was involved.  The games were always fun, but the times with family were much more important.  Mom was all about family.  We grew up close to all of our cousins because we spent a lot of time with them even if they were in Akron or Cleveland or Pittsburg or Louisiana.  She had an undying love for me dad.  She knew she had married a very good man and was thankful for that each and every day.  We are so fortunate that she passed that on to us.

My kids took a little time this past weekend to write down things Grandma meant to them.  Joan was able to read it to Mom before she died and she said Mom was calm as she listened.  I’d like to think she loved hearing what the kids had to say.

Kids.  They were SO important to my Mom.  She loved to be around little kids.  For a few years late in life she went to my sister’s school to help the third graders with math or reading.  But I think have the time those sessions probably turned into talking and playing sessions.  Mom loved talking about those times.  When each of her grandchildren reached teenager status, she took them to either the Pro Football Hall of Fame or a dinner theatre.  She wanted one-on-one time with them.  She wanted to make them feel extra special.  She wanted to create a lasting memory.  Even with children she did not know, she drew them in to her circle or worried about the most downtrodden of them all.  She was a little kid at heart – making up stories, playing games, staying active.

My Mom’s Uncle Nick from Romania called my mom “Libelulei” which is a Romanian word meaning “dragonfly”.  He meant it as a term of endearment.  My Mom was not a person to sit around much – EVER.  Uncle Nick thought she was this graceful, beautiful being moving from event to event.  I think that summed up Mom pretty well.

So Mom is now up in heaven doing something with my Dad, friends and other family members.  And when my Dad decides to get in his recliner and take a nap, Mom is probably looking after the little children up there – playing games with them.  And they are all laughing.  Look for a dragonfly that is my Mom watching over us.

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Mom

It has been a couple of weeks since I last posted to my blog.  That is the longest amount of time between postings since I started this blog.  It has been that long because I have been busy.  I am concluding my third trip to visit my mom in the last two weeks.  So today being Mother’s Day, it seemed like a good opportunity to post.

It is amazing how much my mom’s health has deteriorated over the past couple weeks.  We went from someone still living at home alone, caring for herself pretty well to today.  We really are not sure what sparked the health problems that led her to having to go to the hospital.  But since she want into the hospital it has been a very severe downward slope.  My sisters and I all realize that Mom is never coming home to her house again.  The initial optimism of “maybe she will get stronger and we can have someone care for her at home” has gone out the door.  And even though going home is all my Mom really wants. it won’t happen.

Going into the hospital for someone over 90 years old is a very disconcerting thing.  Their routine is disrupted.  Their familiar places are no longer there.  Mom has declined rapidly as the days ran on.  She is now taking so many drugs to try to calm her down that she sleeps most of the day.  While most of her organs are fine, her strength has deteriorated to the point she cannot get out of bed without assistance.  This from the same lady who forced herself to walk around her house just to get exercise.  Her mind now moves in and out of clarity.  At least she still recognizes us and asks about the family.

I am sure there are many good people working in hospitals.  Their job is to make patients comfortable, but they are doing a job.  And the huge spectre of profits and Insurance companies loom over every person, every step, every decision.  Lucky for us we have had a couple advocates in the medical field who have slowed down the profit motive.  I believe it is impossible to have any respect for insurance companies that provide health insurance.  They, along with the hospitals (who, by the way as supposed to be non-profit organizations) are a formidable duo.

The interesting dilemma for me is what to wish for my mom.  I have come to the conclusion that it is time for her to die.  I have thought about this quite a bit.  It is odd to think about someone you love and decide “I want them to die”. The way I have come to this conclusion is this.  If she was simply a burden on all of us to care for her, that is our burden.  We would gladly keep that going.  I have no right to ask for her to die.  However, if she is no longer the person she once was, if she will never have another day at home, it is time for her to go.  The person she was is gone.  She is not having any good days or even days filled with much joy.  I truly believe in my heart that most of the joy is gone from her life.  And if she truly realized she was never going home, she would be distraught.

As a funny side note to all of this, I mentioned to her last time I visited that perhaps it was time for her to “join Dad in heaven”.  She said “No, I don’t think I will make it.  Especially not on the first time.”  When I asked her about this she said she was “bad” as a teenager and they “wouldn’t let her into heaven”.  I had to chuckle about that.  She was still thinking.  And perhaps even more funny is the fact she thinks we get multiple votes at heaven.  Maybe we do.  Perhaps it is like Hall of Fame voting.  If you don’t make it this year, you remain on the ballot for next year.  Who knows.

As I write this I assume it will be my last Mother’s Day with my mom.  But you never know.