Today my mom would have been 78.
Above is what I would call the quintessential mom picture over the past ten years. This was her favorite spot, tucked up in the recliner in her bathrobe, crocheting. Watching a bit on the TV, she really liked the re-boot of Hawaii Five-O, America’s Funny Home Videos and cooking/gardening shows. She probably crocheted enough stitches to circle the globe, more than once. She came from that generation that always had to have their handwork in their lap, hands always busy.
In the spring of 2005 she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Cervical Cancer. Against all odds, she survived the initial surgery and hellacious first round of chemotherapy. She went on being invincible for the next ten years. She died of complications from hernia surgery on November 3, 2014, the cancer in remission, of course.
So today, as a little nod to mom, my siblings and I all take our kids out and get ice cream. Mom’s favorite was a strawberry shake. Mom loved ice cream, well, sugar, in any form.
Though I knew her death was coming, it still managed to shock me. I was at work when it happened and had just gotten home at 130pm, sat down on the toilet to pee for the first time since 730am (elementary school kids are merciless) and looked at my phone. I had missed calls and texts from all three of my sisters. I was crying before I read the first one.
The next day at work, I got my first inkling of how insulated my life had become. My boss walked over to where I was monitoring a kindergartner in headphones on the computer. He asked how I was doing.
I said, “Okay. Hey, I need to take off the rest of the week, my mom died last night.” My voice broke a bit at the end, I cleared my throat and shook my head a little.
He stared at me for half a breath, “Oh my God, why are you here today?”
“I’m fine,” I shrugged, appalled by the tears pooling.
He shook his head at me, “Don’t worry about us, we’ll be fine. Is there anything I can do for you? Should you go home?”
“No, the girls are here and we’re still making arrangements to leave tomorrow.”
He nodded, offered any help I needed again and we both went back to work.
My co-workers took good care of me and my family, something I didn’t expect. It really surprised me. I’ve never been so cared for, not in the city I grew up in, the city I lived in for five years, the city I lived in for ten years. I’d been in North Dakota for less than three years, been working just over a year. It was an experienced that changed my heart.
So now, it’s all aftermath. I’m sure bits and pieces will come to this blog from time to time. Today this is all the energy I have to spend. I’m going to go shower and wrap up in that ridiculously time consuming quilt my mom made for me, over 250,000 hand stitches. The quilt pattern is Grandma’s Flower Garden. Mom was a Master Gardener. My thanks didn’t seem adequate when she gave it to me, though I treasure it.
Happy Birthday Mom.