This is an unusual post, as most of it was written by my husband, Funk.
I don’t know why, but Funk thinks he found a prize in me. As often occurs, he recently went on and on about what a wonderful job I did, this time, during my mother’s passing. Since my husband sees me as this incredibly strong woman, and since I usually see myself as being too weak, I asked him to write down why he felt the way he did about my mom’s situation, hoping that maybe I could see myself through his eyes.
He began by citing this exchange between us that occurred the day after my mom died:
Tuesday, December 17th, text messages:
Funk: I’m on the plane. We’re delayed a bit. I love you. You are a very good woman and I admire you.
Me: I love you, white light yourself.
I don’t know what’s to admire, but I’m glad. I admire you too. Thank you for knowing to stay yesterday.
Funk: Among the many things I admire about you is the poise and strength and compassion you brought to yesterday’s terrible situation. Far classier than any of the rest of us.
Before I get to what Funk wrote, this is the backstory about my mother’s death:
My mom died her worst-case death scenario. She had a stroke and was intubated. On the fifth day, since we knew she wouldn’t want to be bedridden for the rest of her life, her children did as advised and consented to taking her off life support. She wasn’t supposed to last ten minutes. She hung on for five and a half hours, drowning to death. It was gruesome. Gruesome for her. And gruesome for my brother Santis and I. But watch we did. My mother’s two youngest children, stood side-by-side, ushering her back to the other side.
This is what Funk wrote about that day:
The day your mother died.
There is no more difficult situation than the death of a loved one and most people have no idea how to react. They say things like “I don’t know what to say” because it is quite literally true. And often they are merely silent, offering no words at all.
When your mother was dying you knew exactly what to say – to the doctors, nurses and medical staff, to your brothers and to Jenny and Heather, and, most of all, to your mother. You stood by her side for hours, talking to her, reassuring her, stroking her head and holding her hand. You were constantly fiddling with her covers and bedding and the robe and nightgown your brought her in ways that sought to make her more comfortable but even more important, communicated silently to her that you were caring for her.
You were demanding of the doctors and medical staff when you needed to be and when it was appropriate. But you also listened respectfully and worked with them when that was the right thing to do. You were essentially the leader of a whole group of us concerned with and working to try to make the best of the terrible situation with your mother. You consulted people and then made tough decisions. And you did all this in a way that increased their respect for you. Essentially, you won people like the head nurse and Nathan, the respiratory therapist, over to your side in a way that I believe rarely happens.
You showed strength – you were literally on your feet for about 12 hours, never leaving your mother’s side and attending to her and others the whole time. You showed compassion – for your mother, despite the difficult relationship you had with her, and for your brother San and even for Steve, although he essentially rejected it. You could justifiably have been petty, vindictive and demanding and yet you were none of those things. And you showed poise – despite the enormous pressure, you never really lost control of yourself, nor did you let overwhelming emotion get you to make a bad decision or treat someone callously. And finally, you were classy – your personal behavior was skillful, kind and graceful, despite everything.
My husband is the personification of strong. With his words on paper to look back on, perhaps someday I’ll finally see myself as he sees me.
Here’s to all of you who have lost a mom. Because no matter the age or the relationship, losing a mom is a tough one.
The photo: My mom (I call her Mother-Dear), daughter Tara (Isn’t she a beauty! Like, for real!) and me, doing what I love best. Torturing people. In this case, squeezing my mother’s boobies. I love the look on her face. A fun-loving, passionate Italian expression that comes straight from the old world.
P.S. As soon as I get my oomph back, I’ll post myself, and on a regular basis again. Until then, all love to you.