“Years ago my mom’s sister, who is not a nice person, asked my mom ‘Why do you go to church? You’re not perfect.’ My mom’s epic response was ‘That’s why I go.’ Today is my mom’s 68th birthday. Her first birthday with God. She passed away at 1:09 AM on May 31, 2019. She leaves behind my sister and I, our husbands, three grandchildren, a nephew and his wife, a great-nephew, and an uncle. There is also my dad’s sister and her two sons.
My mom was young, but her poor body went through nine lives. From the time she was 11 months old, when she had a fever that should’ve killed her, she fought disabilities and illnesses like a champ. She developed infantile cerebral palsy after her fever. Scoliosis and Charcot-Marie-Tooth became a part of her life as she got older. Surgeries, braces, walkers, and wheelchairs became her life as well and remained throughout her life. No one thought she would ever drive, graduate college, get married, or have children. She did everything, she proved everyone wrong.
At 45 she had a massive heart attack. I was 17. God wasn’t ready for her yet, we had her for 22 1/2 more years. All through experimental heart procedures, congestive heart failure, foot surgeries, diabetes, kidney failure, defibrillator shocks, COPD (non-smoker WTF), peripheral artery disease, and respiratory failure…. she kicked ass. Visiting her in the hospital was a normal part of my childhood. I didn’t know any different. She fought for life her entire life. She truly was inspiring, and she is my hero.
She moved in with my husband and I in November 2012. Before that, my grandma was my mom’s caregiver. A few years after my mom’s sister moved in to be my grandma’s caregiver, she forced my mom out by giving my grandma an ultimatum. We took her. It was either us or a nursing home, her sister didn’t care. She wasn’t ready for a nursing home and my sister didn’t have an extra room. My sister was able to help a lot thankfully. My in-laws accepted her as part of the family. We made it work, she loved the freedom and independence she had with my family.
Transitioning into the role of primary caregiver, as well as maintaining fulltime employment, and being a wife was a challenge and I never fully perfected it. Shout out to all caregivers, be strong, get support, ask for help, and treasure the time you have.
The day before my mom died, she mentioned that she was short of breath, so she used her rescue inhaler and did a nebulizer treatment and didn’t mention it again. I should’ve asked. That evening at 10:44 PM my mom said to call an ambulance. I also called my sister and she raced to the hospital with her husband. When I saw them giving her CPR in the back of the ambulance, I didn’t realize. When they sent in the hospital chaplain, I didn’t realize. When the doctors told us her heart kept stopping, and they kept bringing her back, only for it to stop again, I didn’t realize. She was gone, left just as the ambulance arrived at my house, but I didn’t realize she wasn’t coming back and I was right there with her. The paramedics and E.R. doctors did everything they could. She has been brought back from the brink of death before.
We were with her as she passed. And we stayed with her until the funeral home from our hometown came to get her. My husband called my job and left voicemails for my bosses. I asked him if this was a dream, he said no. This was about 5 am, the morning of May 31st.
When I woke up four hours later, I made phone calls. I called my boss, she hadn’t listened to her voicemail, I had to say out loud, ‘She died.’ I called a good friend, he said he was sorry. I called our cable company, the guy couldn’t believe we were canceling our service until I said, ‘It was my mom’s, she died eight hours ago.’ I called our pharmacist, she cried with me. I called my mom’s PCP and left a message. I called my mom’s current cardiologist, who she had seen less than 48 hours before she died, she offered her condolences and said she would let her pulmonologist, podiatrist, and electrophysiologist know. Later that day, my sister and I, and our husbands made her arrangements. When asked if I thought everything looked right, I said ‘No, none of this is right.’ My mom’s passing has brought me and my sister closer. We planned her service with no drama. We didn’t know all of her wishes, but we knew enough, and we made sure to agree on every last detail. On June 7, 2019 our small family, my in-laws, my mom’s church family, and several of my co-workers said goodbye at my mom’s beloved church.
About two weeks after my mom passed, a neighbor in the apartments behind my house asked if my mom was okay. I slowly shook my head, I was confused…how does this stranger know my mom…? Turns out he watched my mom sometimes, but not in a creepy way. My mom liked to sit on our back porch when the weather was nice. It was difficult for her to maneuver because at this point, she was fully dependent on a walker. He would watch through his window until she was seated. He could tell she was disabled and wanted to make sure that if she fell, he would see and be able to help. His revelation made me cry and I thanked him for watching out for my momma. His name is Andy, her Guardian Angel.
Eventually I called my mom’s PCP again, not knowing exactly what I wanted, but knowing I at least needed to thank him. He said he was glad I called and the reason my mom lived as long as she did is because my sister and I took such great care of her the last several years. This was a bittersweet affirmation.
Last story, and if you’ve made it this far, congrats, you’re persistent, just like my mom.
It’s been eight weeks since I lost my mom, for the last six weeks I’ve desperately tried to get a hold of one of her original cardiologist’s. I knew she would want him to know and she would want us to thank him. He moved to Austin, TX at least seven years ago to be in charge of heart failure research at a large medical facility. I found out his wife’s name and messaged her on Facebook. Nothing. I emailed the PR person at the company he works for, twice, nothing. Finally, yesterday, I figured out his email address is probably firstname.lastname@example.org. I sent him an email, explained who I was and told him I desperately needed to talk to him. I got a response at 9:30 last night! I was speechless! My sister was with me and we cried tears of sadness and joy! My momma loved this man. She was one of his guinea pigs and the reason she lived as long as she did. He was her hero. Turns out, his former colleagues already told him that my mom had passed. He offered his condolences and said that his ‘life is better because of my mom. She had the most amazing smile and loving attitude. I really don’t remember her not smiling, even when she was very ill.’
Little did I know the impact my mom had on others, a neighbor that quietly cared, a renowned cardiologist, and countless others that my mom was blessed to share her life with and are better for knowing her.
I know she’s still smiling and now she is perfect. I still wait for her to come to me in my dreams, and she will, when I’m ready.
Happy Birthday Momma #forever67”
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