I said goodbye to my mother yesterday. After only a short period of time following a diagnosis of lung cancer, she passed from this world peacefully at home, where she had lived independently until about six weeks ago.
That’s not to say it was easy. Indeed, the last few years have been full of ER visits due to falls, calls from friends who caught her out driving when she wasn’t supposed to, and constant threats and reminders that if she didn’t wear her Lifeline Medical Alert or use her walker, we were going to send her to the nursing home.
Her diet of Frosted Flakes, Sprite and Pepperidge Farms Coconut Cake didn’t help matters. Nor did her smoking habit, but she’d had a hard early life, raised four children (two of them 17 years apart), outlived all of her siblings (who were also her closest friends) by several years, and made it to 83 years, so we all just lived with it and let her do things her way as long as we could. Fortunately, she had wonderful neighbors, and they eased the worry by checking in on her constantly. In the end, she passed knowing we loved her and we knew she loved us—unconditionally. That’s about all we can ask for, isn’t it?
What really touched us was the outpouring of love and support from so many friends, past and present, and the community in which we grew up. The time and place of my childhood was very special to me—kind of a Mayberry/Brady Bunch feel—and it has been so much fun to reminisce with so many old friends as we have gone through the grieving process—a highlight for my little sister was the discovery of her birth certificate, which disproved the tale we always told her of finding her in a cabbage patch.
Seriously, it’s times like this that really make you appreciate the power of friends and family, and as hard as it is to let a loved one go, I find comfort in the love and support I have felt over the last few days, and know my mother did the same.