As most of you have heard, my mom passed away March 10, 2016. She'd been on dialysis for two years. In September, she was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure. She died from a heart attack at the dialysis center. There's no doubt in my mind she closed her eyes here and opened them to see my dad, smiling and welcoming her to heaven.
We had a celebration of her life Saturday, March 19th. It was very "mom". A boy I grew up with who is now a preacher officiated, he had first hand experiences with mom. Her best friend spoke about how she didn't know what to do now since Mom was the person she'd call to figure out what to do and I spoke. Here is what I said:
I want to thank everyone for coming. You are all here because you knew mom and loved her or because you love me and my family. I appreciate it either way. In case you are here to support me and you never really got to know mom.
There are two things I want you to know about her. The first one is: She hated people. She'd freely tell you that. Didn't like people at all. Which is why she did certain things, like make frequent donations to a church she didn't attend so they could pay someone's bills or arrange a hotel room for a fellow dialysis patient when she found out he was sleeping by a pond. It's why she spent hours shopping for the school-age parent program at the career center where I worked, buying baby clothes and other necessities for girls with children who were trying to finish their education.
Once the director of that program approached me and explained that one of their students had a son that was too old for any of the clothes in the donation closet. He needed a winter coat and tennis shoes. Could mom possibly help? Not only did she get the boy a coat and shoes (which she stressed out over because she hated that the boy wasn't getting to pick out his own shoes.) When she found out all the teenage mother had was a light jacket, she bought her two coats because, as mom said, she deserved to be warm and to have a choice in what she wore. That's how much mom didn't like people.
She brought individual bouquets of flowers to the dialysis clinic and gave them to all the patients and the staff because it was a depressing place and people needed a reason to smile. Right after she became a hospice patient, a friend who works in a Pediatric ICU, causally mentioned they were running low on hairbows for the children because the nurses usually purchased them out of their own money. That put mom on a mission. She gathered hairbows, nail polish and other assorted items for weeks to donate to the hospital because, as I said, she hated people.
Mom's one condition for all of this was anonymity. The man who got a hot shower and a warm bed to sleep in had no idea who paid for the hotel room. The friend who worked at the hospital offered to attach little "Donated by" tags to the hairbows. Mom rolled her eyes and said, "Absolutely not."
She didn't do it for recognition. She did it because it was something she could do. If there was a need that she had the ability to fill, that's what she did. As far as she was concerned, it was nobody's business where the help came from.
The other thing I want you to know is she didn't wait to live. From being a bartender to repossessing cars to traveling all over several states as a consultant, she always had great stories of things that could only happen to her. Some of you here are familiar with the "Universe of Connie". After her illness slowed her down, she'd say. "I'm really glad I was wild when I was younger because if I'd waited until my golden years to have some fun, I'd be really mad." Well, mom used a different word than mad…but, you get the idea.
When the doctors told us that there was nothing else to be done, she looked at me and said, "Let's go home and make some memories." Which is what we did. We went shopping, we visited friends, we watched a lot of Judge Judy and QVC. We laughed. We told stories and made the best of the horrible situation we were facing.
As most of you know, mom didn't want a service. She kept saying she didn't think anyone would come. But, she's not here and we are. Sooo, sorry about that, mom. Since mom got sick, and especially in the week now since she's been gone, everyone has been asking me what they can do? How can they help? Here is my answer: Go fill a need. Go make a memory. Go love someone as fiercely as mom loved those close to her. Love them to the moon and back.