Linda, I can’t believe you left us one year ago today. It was so unexpected. All those “mother-in-law” jokes didn’t really apply to our relationship, did they? I always loved you, and the feeling was mutual, I know.
When I talked about you, I’d usually refer to you as “Mom-2.”
But the shock of your passing…WOW. At the end, you were on hospice, but seemed to be getting better. My wife, Laura (your middle daughter) was SO hopeful of your recovery!
“Mom is STRONG!” she told me one day, smiling. “I think she’s going to end up getting out of hospice and get on her own. I really do!”
You’d had health problems ever since I met you, nearly 35 years ago. Taking a couple dozen pills a day for a variety of ailments, I know you were tired, but I guess we just never knew how tired.
You hid most of your fatigue behind a very tired smile. Oh, you told us about your pain, but it was worse than we could’ve imagined.
My grandson, Joshy, misses you, Linda. GOD KNOWS how bad he misses you! It’s so hard when a six-year-old comes to you, almost in tears, and says, “I miss Gigi.”
I loved it when we started calling you that, by the way. “Gigi.” Actually, “G.G.,” for “great-grandma,” but Joshy’s dad, “Big Josh,” used the initials to start calling you “Granny Goose.”
That always made you laugh.
Sometimes it was hard for us to break through all the pain and the pills and the oxygen tubes and tanks to make you laugh, but we did it. Even when you could barely walk or breathe, you still didn’t give up, until your precious heart just couldn’t take anymore at the end, that is.
Lord help me, I still remember that phone call from Laura.
“Mom’s dead,” she managed, barely above a whisper.
It was like a freight train just went through my office, and I got up and closed the door.
“WHAT?!” I almost yelled.
“Nancy just called. Mom’s dead.”
“Oh my God, no,” I recall saying. I never say “Oh my God” unless it’s in a prayer, but I couldn’t stop saying it.
“Oh my God. Oh my God, Lord help us…” I seemed to repeat.
Unfortunately I was on the phone when Laura got out to the car, where our daughter, Jessy, was waiting to take her to lunch. I could hear the conversation on the other end of the line, although I wish I could forget it.
“What’s wrong?” Jess asked, seeing her mama’s face red, tears just beginning to fall.
“Mom died,” was all Laura managed to say.
“What?” Jess replied, immediately bursting into tears. “What do you mean??!!”
Her brain couldn’t process the news, her mind flashing back to when you were HER “mom #2.”
Then they cried together, mom and daughter. It was awful to hear, since I wasn’t there to comfort them, and I just sat in my office, listening, helpless.
It took you and me a long time to get close, didn’t it? When Laura and I met, I was not exactly your idea of the perfect boyfriend, what with my non-work ethic, and my concert t-shirts and sweat pants. But over the years we worked past the differences, and I finally, just a couple years before you left us, started calling you “mom.”
I didn’t think it would hurt this bad. I suppose I don a tough exterior, but I’m all mushy inside. You knew that about me, didn’t you?
I have a mom. I have a GREAT mom, and I guess that’s why I’d convinced myself it wouldn’t hurt AS BAD as someday when I lose my own mom (Lord, what a terrible day that will be). I told myself there were varying degrees of pain, and losing “Mom-2,” although horrible, wouldn’t be quite the depth of pain that losing my mom would be.
I was wrong.
You’d become such a part of my life, and I didn’t realize how much you truly meant to me until you were gone. From the time we met in October, 1985, you were just ALWAYS there.
Laura would call and text you every day, and until you moved home to Indiana the last few months of your life, she’d visit you at least twice a month. Spending hours, playing cards around the table, talking and laughing.
You were just always there.
And then suddenly, one year ago today…
YOU WERE GONE.
It seemed it hit EVERYBODY hard. My son, Trey, who has such a giving and loving heart, just couldn’t believe it. The news just didn’t seem real, until he seen you in the funeral home. Or, seen the “tent” you left behind, that is. We all knew you had finally made it HOME, to Heaven. That wasn’t you, that was the tired, broken-down body you left behind.
Poor Trey just seemed lost.
He loved you so.
The picture of you and he at his graduation party is perhaps my favorite. Trey’s a hugger, and when I said, “Let me get a picture of you two,” he, OF COURSE, hugged you.
You always loved his hugs.
It still doesn’t seem real, honestly. People die every day, I know. I’ve lost all my grandparents and a few of my uncles and aunts. They ALL hurt, but losing you…
Wow, I can’t explain it, and it sounds selfish of me to try and compare my pain to your kids, Nancy, Greg, Warren, Laura and Audra.
Their pain is deeper, no doubt, but it still hurts.
You were still my “mom.”
Well, as they say, I suppose the best we can do is “remember the good times.” Like when your kids took you to Maine. All we’d heard about for years was how you’d like to go to Maine and “eat lobster on the beach.”
I believe it was Audra who snapped this hilarious pic of you:
I asked her if you were exhilarated or terrified at that moment, and she said, “A little bit of both! :)”
You wouldn’t want us to sit around and mourn, I know. Meanwhile, Laura cries sometimes at night, she misses you so much. With all her heart.
She still picks up the phone to call you, and then remembers…
“Oh yeah…mom’s gone…”
I told her what others have told me: you never “get over it,” you just learn to live with it.
My mom tells me she still misses her mom like crazy, and barely a week goes by she doesn’t think about her, miss her.
We know you’re with Wayne again, and you’re both healthier and happier than any of us can fathom. Yeah, I know that, but it doesn’t HELP.
I have some great stories about you two, that’s for sure!
Remember the time you were packing Wayne up to move him to the nursing home? Alzheimer’s had set in to the point where you couldn’t take care of him, and it was quite an emotional day. The heaviness of the moment was broken, however, when you found AN ENTIRE SLICE OF PIZZA in his recliner!
“Wayne!” you nearly yelled. “A whole piece of pizza?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!”
He just sorta smiled and said, “I was saving it for later.”
Laura said she had to leave the room to keep from laughing out loud.
His nicknames for you always cracked us up, although they seemed to drive you CRAZY.
You’d walk into the room and Wayne would say, “Mammy wammy! Molly dolly!”
You’d just roll your eyes and keep walking.
So that’s what we have: stories, memories.
That’ll have to do until we see you again.
I miss you terribly. Say “hi” to Wayne for us, and tell that ole bugger we’ll see him soon.
I wish I could hug you again, just one more time. Much love to you, Mom-2.