My Mom

Two weeks ago, I received a dreaded phone call. It was my mother's neighbor and friend, saying my mom had just been whisked away in an ambulance. 

It wasn't the first time this had happened. Back in 2019, just a short time after I returned home after my father's death, several times Mom went to the ER via ambulance. Back then, she'd had a series of heart attacks followed by surgery to put in stents. But this time, I had a worse feeling about the situation. That feeling was exacerbated when I learned they'd rushed Mom into surgery...and then grew stronger when that surgery lasted for hours. 

At midnight, her surgeon called me. A major artery in Mom's heart was clogged, and her stents were clogged, too. Her heart rate had dropped suddenly during surgery and they intubated her. The doctor hoped she'd rally. But at 4 AM, a nurse called to say they were having a difficult time keeping Mom alive. "Come right away," she said. 

I woke up my family and we drove two hours to the hospital. We talked to Mom, though she was unresponsive. One of my sisters talked to her via my phone, asking her to pray for her salvation. Several times, my mom's lips moved. 

Then it was time to turn off the machinery. It was very, very quick. 

Mom died two days after the two year anniversary of my dad's death...and just four days before her 87th birthday. 

Mom lead an interesting and varied life. Born to a World War I veteran and a woman who would later serve as a nurse's aid during the second World War, Mom spent her childhood dancing, singing, and modeling. She performed with the Meglan Kiddies - a performance troupe both Shirley Temple and Judy Garland belonged to at various times. (You can learn more about the Meglan Kiddies here.)

Mom in one of her Meglan Kiddie costumes.

When Mom's parents divorced, she was sent to a convent, even though she wasn't Catholic. Although those were often lonely years for her, she told many amusing stories about life in the convent (including one where a priest taught the nuns the Conga, much to Mother's Superior's displeasure). Once, briefly, she considered becoming a nun. "Then I discovered boys," she used to say. 

Mom with her first husband.

She married young, to a once-forbidden neighbor boy who left love notes in her mailbox. He joined the Navy (during the Korean War) and was almost never home, while Mom suffered two miscarriages - including one at six months. While her husband was away, Mom worked (first at a cannery, then a five and dime store, and then at a title company, working as a draftsman - at a time when women didn't do that sort of thing). She saved enough money to build a small house of her own design. It was the first of several houses she built and only one of probably at least hundreds she designed.

When the marriage ended, Mom continued her work as a draftsman (never tell her it was more proper to say "draftswoman!"). Later, she met her second husband, with whom she had three children - my siblings. 

Mom with my siblings.

When that marriage ended, Mom took a variety of jobs, until she landed a position at the Unemployment Office, after marrying my dad. She liked the interaction with people, often finding the job amusing. (She once said a certain employee of a famous aquarium told her the orca whales spoke to him.) During my lifetime, Mom also worked as a teacher's aid, a Realtor, and an antiques dealer. And of course, there was always her art. 

Dad, me, and Mom.

She began painting in the 1970s, and regularly did sidewalk shows to sell her work. For years, she belonged to an art league that also sold her paintings. Over the years, her art varied as much as her life - sometimes leaning toward realism, other times toward impressionism, and even (in one painting that her children have always loved) toward 70s weirdness. Since I frequently performed in live theatre, she also painted backdrops, sets, stage floors, and even a local theatre's lobby counter. To say she had talent in the area of painting doesn't even begin to describe it. (To see a tiny sampling of her art, see the end of this post.)

Since my marriage, Mom lived alone (having been divorced from my dad for some years). For a time, she kept herself busy tending a gorgeous garden and teaching art therapy at assisted living facilities. In recent years, she had trouble doing these things, and even gave up painting entirely.

Mom and me, Christmas 2020.
 

We'd planned to celebrate her birthday with a big chocolate cake with a gazillion candles, her favorite Subway meal (her choice!), and family time. It pains us that this never happened. 

Hug your loved ones and tell them you love them every day! 

 

A handful of Mom's paintings. I'm sure my photographs don't do them justice.



 






14 comments

  1. What a lovely tribute to your mom. She sounds like she was a very interesting lady. You look just like her. And there's no way she was 86 years old in that picture from last Christmas, she looks so young! Her paintings are gorgeous, and I don't know if you paint at all, but I know you are very creative and talented, so you probably got that from her. 😊 Praying God's comfort and peace to you and your family as you continue to mourn her passing.

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    1. Thank you, Maridy. She definitely had that movie star look, even at 86 years old! I don't paint, but my mom also wrote as a hobby, so she definitely passed a love of writing on to me :)

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  2. So sorry for your loss. My Mom passed away on Feb.28th, 2015 at 85. Your Mom's paintings are beautiful. I have an easel, canvases, paint and brushes but the time hasn't been right just yet. I hope you have a beautiful Spring and Easter.

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  3. Thank you for such a beautiful tribute to your mom. What beautiful artwork! May God pour out His comfort on you and all your family as you grieve. Praying for you.

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  4. What a lovely tribute to your mom. Fascinating story. I agree with others who said that you look like her. Both of you are beautiful. Her artwork is impressive too. I especially love the canning jars.

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    1. Thank you, Gail. She would be thrilled that you enjoyed her artwork.

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  5. I'm so sorry for your loss. Your mom sounds amazing! So much accomplished in her lifetime. And so pretty. God bless you during this time.

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  6. I'm so very sorry for your loss. ~Gentle hugs~

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  7. Kristina- Thank you for sharing your Mom's story and art. God blessed you both to have each other. It sounds like she passed her beauty, brains, spirit and talent on to you. She left you with years of pleasant memories that will eventually soften the loss you feel now, and then bring sudden smiles of remembrance later. Wishing you comfort and peace, Marlene

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