After I married and had a family, we still lived within walking distance in the same neighborhood. If I didn't see her everyday, I talked to her at least 2 times on the phone. My mother was a woman ahead of her times. She lost her mother at age 6 and had a very difficult childhood and adulthood. At age 42, she was a widow with a 5 year old daughter to raise. She was such an inspiration to me. She never finished high school but had more life experience from the 'school of hard knocks' as she used to say. She bought a house to put a roof over my head and worked cleaning houses and offices to supplement her social security in order to send me to Catholic school and give me ballet lessons. She was the most self-sufficient, hard working person I have ever known. She always put others ahead of herself and everyone who knew her loved her. She had a way of, within seconds of meeting her, making one feel like they had known her forever.
When I made her a grandmother in 1977 and 1980, she could not have been prouder. My children became the loves of her life. She spent alot of time with them and they loved spending time with her.
On December 2, 1992, I convinced her to let me take her to the doctor, as she had not been feeling well for a few days and I was concerned. The doctor told me to take her to a local emergency facility to be given fluids overnight as she probably had the flu and was dehydrated. Once there, they decided to take her by ambulance to a larger hospital to be admitted for testing. As we rode in the elevator with the paramedics who transported her, they told me how proud she was of me and that all she talked about on the ride to the hospital was me and my children. They took her to a beautiful room and the nurse asked me to step out while they settled her in and then I could come back to see her.
Not a minute had gone by before the nurse ran out of the room, yelling "code blue" and other nurses came running with the crash cart. I was asking what was happening and a nurse ushered me into a room and closed the door. She told me that my mother's heart had stopped and they were trying to revive her. My whole world came crashing down. I was unable to process what was being told to me. How could this be happening? She came in for fluids. How did her heart stop?
After what seemed like hours, they told me her heart had stopped for 25 minutes. They brought her back but she was in ICU and probably would not make it through the night. She did and she remained in ICU for 15 days precariously hanging onto life. She was such a strong woman and I know it was her strength that kept her hanging on. On December 17 she passed away and was buried on December 22.
That Christmas was a blur. I had lost the entire month and had not even done any shopping for my 14 and 11 year old children. They were so understanding and sympathetic and said they did not need or want anything for Christmas. They fully understood that I was not in the mood to shop or do anything fun. But I refused to feel sorry for myself and one day look back on how I selfishly deprived my children of celebrating Christmas that year. I took strength from my Mother and went out to the stores and pretty much went way over budget by just grabbing anything to get the shopping done. My daughter wanted a boombox. Well, she got one with a TV. With all the caroles and happy people shopping, it was not a pleasant experience for me. I wanted to scream "how can you all be so happy, I just lost my Mother!!!"
My father died on Easter Sunday in 1961 when I was just 5. I was too young to really understand. But that year, losing my mother during the Christmas season, I was hit with the fact that I was truly an orphan. Not only did I grieve for my Mother, but the impact of losing my father 32 years before hit me full force as well.
Not a day goes by that I don't think of my mother and miss her. She was my greatest role model and I told her when she left this world that I hoped that I could be as good a person as she was.