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Saying Goodbye to Mom

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Mom in 1948

Mom in 1948


She was married four times. She left our home when I was 15 years old. She was my mother and I loved her dearly.

I lost my mom on July 6 of 2014. She was 79 and truthfully, her death was a blessing. She had a massive stroke in Feb of 2013 and after a lengthy stint in rehab was only well enough for nursing home care. Mom would never go home again. It was hard to accept.

My life was changed. Living thousands of miles and an ocean away, I felt tremendous guilt I couldn’t be there to take care of mom or help my brothers with any of mom's affairs.

I’m not ashamed to admit I’m glad mom wasn’t totally aware of what was happening. If she had realized the topsy-turvy world she’d landed in I know she would have been very, very angry and sad.

Wasn't She Lovely?

Mom at 26

Mom at 26

She Loved to Bowl

Bowling was like ballet to mom. Watching her bowl was like watching a graceful dancer.

Bowling was like ballet to mom. Watching her bowl was like watching a graceful dancer.

When I was very little and in particular during my early teen years, I was in awe of my mother. She was feminine and masculine at the same time and seemed to be almost magnetic. At 5'10" at an early age, I felt like a clod hopper compared to her.

Mom was my example of what a woman was supposed to be and then when I turned 15 she was gone from our lives for a period in time. I felt lost.

And life goes on as it does..... and I grew up and became a wife and mother myself. Mom was always a part of my life as much as she could be. With maturity came understanding and a renewed relationship which I felt was even stronger than before.

She Loved to Fish

Mom was 68 in this photo; she could still out fish most. :)

Mom was 68 in this photo; she could still out fish most. :)

I was able to fly home twice during mom’s illness and spent as much time as possible visiting with her. Mom was very confused. She thought she was in her 40s and didn’t understand how my brothers and I could have suddenly become older than her.

Approximately six weeks after I last saw her, I got a phone call from my older brother. He said mom was dying. I wasn’t able to get home fast enough to hold her hand once more and tell her I loved her though in my heart I had already said goodbye. She wasn’t alone when she died and I’m so grateful to my family for being there.

My Wabi-Sabi Mom

The pastor who spoke at mom’s service asked each of us to write memories of mom. In my words:

Life with mom was always pretty intense, whether it was high times or low times. Because of this my memories don’t contain a lot of the usual things people may think of when you mention moms because (and I am very proud to say this) she wasn’t your typical mom.

When I was six years old I got mad at mom for something and told her I was running away. I knew my absence would make her sad and I was so mad at her. Mom simply said “okay” and told me to “be sure and pack a suitcase.”

I didn’t have a suitcase so I improvised. I took out the bottom drawer of my chest of drawers, threw a few things out because it was a bit heavy and lugged the half full drawer through the kitchen and past my mom. She said goodbye to me as she opened the screen door to help me out. I pretended not to hear her.

Mom didn’t try to stop me though I kept waiting for her to do just that. I made it to the end of the block and decided to rest and sulk under the neighbor’s tree. I don’t know why, but in my six year old mind, I was pretty sure mom couldn’t see me even though I could see her. I just knew in a bit she’d be frantic and they would send a posse out to find me.

I was wrong; I sat under that tree all afternoon. It was getting close to supper time. When I finally realized no one was looking for me (though my younger brother now claims the family was looking hard for the missing drawer!) I picked up my makeshift suitcase and went back home.

The whole family was sitting at the kitchen table eating. Mom didn’t scold me. Nobody asked where I’d been. Mom didn’t reward me for my theatrics and she didn’t coddle me either. That day she just let me “do my thing” and figure it out. It made me stronger. Because of this wonderful woman that I was so fortunate to have been loved by, I learned at an early age not to be afraid to try a different way.

I’ve spent my life doing things just a little differently and I can’t imagine any other way. I’m so thankful for a mom who was ALWAYS there for me when it counted.

The Japanese revere beautiful things which are imperfect. In the Japanese culture, the crack in a beautiful bowl, the imperfection, this character flaw if you will, makes it more valuable. They have a term for this, wabi-sabi, and I think this description fits mom. She was my beautiful, imperfect wabi-sabi mom. She was priceless to me and to anyone who was lucky enough to know and love her.

Mom Gave the Best Hugs

Mom with one of her great grand daughters.

Mom with one of her great grand daughters.

I see your strong hands in this picture and I remember how wonderful your hugs felt. Thank you for always being there when it counted, mom. I love you so!

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