I last posted the day before a little outpatient nip/tuck surgery. That all went well, but I did wake up with two drains which no one was expecting. Aaron told the surgeon "that won't be popular." And no, I wasn't thrilled but what can you do? That was Friday. Saturday I rested at home and watched some college football while alternately napping. Sunday I mostly rested but I did get out of the house to go to the 3rd birthday party for a special little girl in our life.
|Need some cuteness to balance the rest of this post.|
Monday was Labor Day and Aaron and I had a date to binge watch House of Cards. Around 3 pm, our world turned upside down when we found out that my mom died. I won't go in to the nightmare that was the notification process in which we literally had a police officer knock on the door but then it still took 45 minutes for us to know what had happened.
My mom, Patty, was 71 years old and while she wasn't the portrait of health, she wasn't ill either. But for a couple months she had been the primary caregiver for her 96-year-old mother (Grandma Elmo) and that had taken quite a toll, physically and emotionally. On that Monday, Mom went to her room to take a nap and just didn't wake up. I think we would all hope to go that way, but damn it sucks for those left behind.
My dad died almost three years ago, so my brother John Mark and I are orphans. I don't care how old you are, it's a hard thing to realize that there's no adult to take care of the arrangements or the house or the insurance. We were it. And we have to figure out how best to take care of Grandma Elmo. I don't know what the hell I'm doing. I don't even know what I don't know.
I've sung for many funerals, including Aaron's grandfather, my grandfather and even my dad. But my dad had cancer and even though death is still hard, we knew it was coming. For my mom, there was no way I could sing, which makes me sad because she was my first musical influence. She taught me to play piano and she supported me in all of my musical pursuits.
I couldn't even speak for Mom's funeral; none of us could. But if I could have done her eulogy, here's some of what I would have said (and some of this was said during her service, which was beautiful if I do say so myself).
One of the best things I can say about Mom is that she was so welcoming. She was inclusive because she just didn't know there was another option. When John Mark and I were growing up, she really was a second mom to so many of our friends, and in fact those friends have mentioned that to us recently.
Mom loved to bake and truthfully she had a bit of an addiction to cookbooks. But John Mark loved her blueberry pie and she would make it for him for his birthday, or anytime really. She once made six different kinds of chocolate chip cookies and had Aaron and I taste test them to choose our favorite. Just a couple weeks before she died, our neighborhood had a block party. Mom had found a baklava recipe that she wanted to try and once she knew it turned out well, she gave it to us to take as our contribution to the party.
She had so many talents. Of course, she was musical and she was a church organist for so many years, sometimes also leading a bell choir or serving as the choir director. She had such a thirst for trying new crafts, and she always threw herself completely into them. She made the most beautiful cards. Years ago, she was really into knitting and if anyone she knew had a baby, that baby received a handmade sweater. In more recent years, she was involved in the church's quilting group. And she was modest. I always complimented her on her creativity and she would pooh-pooh it, saying that she wasn't creative; she just did the work.
People knew her as Pat, Patty, Mrs. Tickner, Mom T, but the role she was born for was Grandma. She adored her three grandchildren and the feeling was mutual. Mom and Jacqueline would talk on the phone every week. She texted with Jeremy and James -- how many grandmas text regularly with their teenage grandsons? She played video games with them. She loved to go the movies, and she'd go to pretty much any movie the kids wanted to see. She was willing to try anything (except flying - I don't think she'd been on a plane since 1980).
The day after Mom died, after we had met with the funeral home and ordered flowers and cried, some of us went to Applebees for lunch. Of course the server was being friendly and asking how we were and it was awkward. It reminded me of one of my favorite stories with Mom even though it happened at a sad time. Dad died in the middle of the night and after the funeral home and hospice all did their thing, it was 4:30 am and Mom and I were hungry. We had a hard time finding a place to get breakfast at that hour, but ended up at TeeJay's. We both ordered biscuits and gravy but then our server came back and said she couldn't serve it to us because it just wasn't looking good. She apologized over and over and after we reordered and she left, Mom said "if she knew why we were here, she'd really be sorry." It was one of those moments that was probably only funny to the two of us, but I'll treasure it always.
Mom, I hope you're having biscuits and gravy, and baklava, and chocolate chip cookies, and anything else your heart desires.