I want to thank all of those who have called, emailed or texted their condolences after the death of my mother. Your words have been comforting.
I try not to dwell on her death, and it helps that I have a demanding job that keeps me busy. I worry more about my 75-year-old father, long retired and now without his wife of 55 years.
But I have moments when memories of my mom come flooding in, and my eyes moisten. Most vivid is the last real conversation we had, before exhaustion and pain medication made it hard for her to focus.
My mom entered hospice care on a Monday, and I called the next day, but she was asleep. The next night, my mom called me. Apparently, when I had spoken to my dad the night before, it was obvious that I was fearful of losing my mom. She called me to tell me not to worry about her.
I know nothing about dying, but I have to think even people confident in an afterlife have to approach death with some trepidation. But if my mom was at all afraid, she did not show it, and she wanted me not to be afraid either.
My mom and I had a lot of conversations after her cancer diagnosis in the fall of 2010, but I will cherish that one more than all of the others.
I am in many ways like my father – an easy-going baseball fan with a dry wit. My wife even says I remind her of my father when I grin. But in recent years, I discovered that my mom and I had more in common than I thought.
I have, for example, always loved to travel, and over the years I have been fortunate to visit New York, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Orleans, San Antonio, Kansas City, Chicago and Phoenix, among others. My mom, especially in semi-retirement, also enjoyed traveling, taking many road trips with her sister, cousins and sister-in-law. They called themselves the Ole Ladies.
My mom was also a pragmatic realist, accepting her fate without bitterness, without complaint that life had treated her unfairly, even though she was just 72. As bad luck would have it, she had cancer, and she wasn’t going to get better. Those were just the facts.
My mom had one thing I lack – an unwavering faith in God, and perhaps that helped her approach death without fear. If so, I hope I one day discover what brought so much comfort to her throughout her life but especially in the end.