Today I am writing the hardest thing I hope I will ever have to. I need to say goodbye to one of the most amazing women I know, my Mom. Unfortunately it is forever. I Love you Mom. I almost cannot believe she is gone except that I was there with her. Even though she was really sick, she was still getting things done. Not by herself but through all of us, her family and her many friends. My Mom did not want to accomplice the things that normal people do, she has been doing things like reupholstering chairs and organising cupboards. She wanted to have a garage sale so we would not be left with any junk. I cannot say for myself that having a garage sale would be on my list of things to do if I only had months, weeks, days to live.
I do not have the energy and willpower to get those types of jobs done. Especially if I was as sick as Mom was. We were all happy to try and help her accomplice everything she had in mind. We have a couple of jobs that still need to be completed and we are going to finish them for her. I am making a memory box for my Mom's husband for his daughter who left us all a few years ago. My sister is going to get the Linen closet cleaned out exactly how Mom wanted. I am not sure about the garage sale (we will wait until the weather is better and see about that).
I know everyone will want to know why my Mom has moved on from this life. She had lung cancer, which she only found out about in December, two days before Christmas. She was so amazing, not once during the holidays did she elude that she had cancer even though she knew. She did not want to ruin our holiday season. So instead she sat alone at home every night by herself thinking about everything. She spent that time making her own bucket list of things to get done.
Even while she was unable to do much, she was still so fully alert, to plan each days menu so we cook it the way she liked best. (Not that she was eating any of it) My Mom's friend (Rodgers Aunt) Carol has been absolutely amazing. Carole lives in Nevada and has been here throughout Mom's remaining days helping to care for whatever Mom needed. Carole we love you and would not have been able to manage without you. You are an amazing friend. I only hope that one day we can repay you. I always thought I was a good cook, but I cannot hold a candle to my Mom's abilities. Over the past few months I have learnt more about cooking than I could get from hundreds of cookbooks. I am a good cook , but my Mom was the best cook. I could get from any cookbook. My Mom would not let my sister and I spend all of our time with her, she wanted to keep our spouses happy and for us to take care of ourselves too. She knows how hard that is because she is the one who has done it for all of our family who have already gone and for many friends too.
In the next few weeks I will be sharing some of the amazing recipes and tips that my Mom has shared recently. Like her cheesecake recipe. She had me make it a few weeks ago for some company and wow is it good. And surprisingly easy too.
My Mom has been surrounded by family and friends for the past few months. She was in Yuma Arizona when she first got sick. So rather than take the chance of huge medical bills, she flew home in the middle of December. Just so she could fly home, she did not eat or drink anything at all for five days, so she could manage the flight without being sick. She did not want them to ban her from the plane because she was sick. When my sister and I picked her up at the airport the first thing she asked for was to get some tea and won ton soup. Now that she was off the planes she could try to eat something. Have you ever gone for five days with nothing to eat or drink.
My Mom's home has always been filled with family and friends ( I mean lots and lots of family and friends) and while she has been sick has been no exception. When I was a child and we lived in an 800 square foot house, we hosted many family events. There would be bodies everywhere. As kids all of our friends were welcome too. We used to hang out at my place, go swimming in the Oyster River and then go back to my house and all of us girls would shower and wash our hair and when we were done, Mom would feed us.
My Mom almost finished her accounting degree, while at the same time working full time and caring for my Dad, myself and my sister. Sometimes she would sit up until two and three am doing homework and then she would get up and get us ready and herself for another day. Those were some gruelling years, but Mom still had time to host friends, feed everyone, and be the centre of the universe. Even though she worked full time she still had two huge vegetable gardens and every year she canned and froze the bounty.
In the past few years I have had many health challenges, so my Mom has been taking me grocery shopping and to appointments. I know this is backwards, it should have been the other way around. But I so love that she was there with me. It has only been this last year that Mom could not manage as much. Last spring she broke her arm near the shoulder. Because it was so close to the shoulder they could not put a cast on it. She has her arm in a sling for two months and was in extreme pain. You can find a blog post about the shirts I altered to make it easier to dress, as it hurt her to move her arm to dress.
I added velcro to some of the shoulder seams and a little bling too (just for fun).
If you ever need help with this for someone else please feel free to contact me for ideas. I also made adjustments to her sling. Whenever there was a support on the sling that was not in the right place for comfort I cut them off and reattached them in the most comfortable position. And then I added a lot of heat set rhinestones. It was bad enough to be useless for weeks and have to wear a sling, I thought it just made it a little better by adding some sparkle.
My Mom will be deeply missed here at home and down in Arizona where they have wintered for many years. My Mom has touched so many lives as she was such a caring and giving person. She always had a positive attitude. When she worked her employers always loved her as she was so efficient. My Mom is one of those people who will walk up to a total stranger and be able to get them into a conversation about their lives in moments. She was just so friendly and unbiased that she made so many friends. She was also someone who could plan a meal for 4 and end up feeding 20 without breaking a sweat. She did this for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But she just loved having all of her friends and family near. Even during her last month. When she passed, she was in the arms of her husband and both my sister and I were right there too. What could be better than being enveloped in the arms of someone you love.
One of my friends just happened to be there at that moment too. My friend Judy has a beautiful singing voice that my Mom has always loved. Judy came and sang at my Gram's memorial and my Mom wanted Judy to do the same for her if she could. It just happened that Judy arrived at my Mom's home about twenty minutes before she passed. My Mom told her the name of the song's (they are still secret to us) and with in ten minutes after that she was gone. Thank you Judy for being there and for being such a good friend.
I have attached a letter I wrote to my Mom, that said some of how I feel, but as anything I still have more I could have and wish I had said. Sometimes it is hard to say these things, without crying, so I wrote them down and gave my Mom the letter. By sharing this letter with you I am sharing a big junk of my heart with all of you. Many of whom are total strangers, but I like the idea that my letter might help someone else write a letter to a loved one or friend. My letter is one of the few things that will stay with my Mom forever. It is making me feel a little better that I am sharing my loss and also my love with the world.
A Letter to my Mom
My Mom started to write letters to all of us, but she only had time to write a few sentences to a few of us before she ran out of time. It comforts me just knowing she was trying to do that. In the end I just want to help someone else to write a letter to their Mom, Dad, Spouse, Child or Friend that expresses your love towards them. I stayed up all night when I wrote this letter as the words just kept coming.
So I am still having intermitent breakdowns of tears and moments of beautiful memories. I know I am lucky to had my Mom as long as I have as many of my friends have lost their Mom's at a very early age. My heart goes out to all of you.
In closing all I can think to say is I Love You Mom Forever