Thursday, September 13, 2007

It's Over

On Saturday, 9/8/07 my mother lost her battle with cancer. My sister and brother were there with her, I was about 7 miles from Illinois on Interstate 70 when she passed. My sister told her that I was on the way, and she went quickly after that. Throughout her illness, she had always tried to shield me from the worst parts of it. She always put up a fuss when I would empty her port-a-pot or bedpan; she tried to hide the fact that she was spitting up blood. I believe she did not want me to see her wide scared eyes or hear the death rattle as her lungs filled with fluid.

While there were parts of the service that were not what I think Mom would have wanted, there were parts of the service that were really beautiful. Family and friends turned out in scores. My dad stayed the whole time Monday night for the viewing and also on Tuesday for the funeral. My sister Shelly, whom I'm not as close to as I hope to be, came from Perryville for the funeral and burial. My brother Randy served as a pall bearer. Shelly and Randy were my mom's step children for 14 years; she helped raise them. My cousin Theresa and her husband and kids came from Jefferson City for the viewing. My dad and mom were each others' one true love. The happiest times of my mother's life was when she was with my dad and his family (all of whom came and stayed for hours on Monday night and Tuesday). My mom's first husband and his wife were there, both of whom I adore. My mom's remaining brother and sister and their families were all there, and provided a tremendous amount of support. My late aunts' and uncles' children were there. It was really nice to hear stories about my mom that I had not heard before.

The most beautiful parts of the whole process so far are the very clear signs that mom has sent our way. While my sister, brother, aunt, uncle and step dad were seated at the cemetery, a monarch butterfly lit on the spray of flowers next to her casket. It slowly moved it's wings, and then danced around her plot before flying away. My mom has always loved butterflies. She used butterfly appliques around the house often, and even used little press-on rhinestones to make a butterfly on her sun glasses when I was a kid. I had wondered if there would be a sign, and there it was. My sister and I both noticed it and began to cry. To me it said, "I'm still here" or "I made it."

Yesterday I drove home to Ohio and cried a bit thinking about how my mom never got to see where I live. I went to bed at 5 AM and slept late today. I went to Target to get a few things, and when I got home I went to get the mail. While I was out by the mailbox, another monarch butterfly flew leisurely by, flitting here and there right in front of me. It's as if she was telling me that she's here.

I'm sure the days ahead are going to be hard. Holidays. Going to the mailbox on my birthday and realizing there will not be a card from mom for the first time in more years than I can remember. Mothers Day, realizing I don't have a mother. Hearing songs on the radio that were "her" songs. I guess I'll live through it, but she left a hole in my life bigger than I had ever imagined she would.

Monday, September 03, 2007


I went home to my Mom's this weekend and Saturday Karen and I went through a bunch of photos and keepsakes. For me, one photo kind of says everything about the relationship I have with my mother. It was taken on 1/1/1981 by my brother Roger. My mom and I are dancing our first dance of the New Year. My family didn't take down our Christmas decorations until New Year's Day, so the styrofoam Santa head still hangs on the door, along with some of the Christmas cards we had received that year.

You can visit the other photos I scanned by clicking here.