Goodbye Mom! Heaven Is a Little More Sassy Now

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Mom took a bad fall on Thursday.  The worst one she’s had since her stroke 6 years ago.  This one was about all she could take.  She just knew she was going this time.

I got a call from my sister at about 7:30 am Thursday morning.  She said Mom had fallen and she wanted all her kids around her NOW.  Unfortunately, my husband was subbing for someone in the temple that morning and he had taken my car.  I told my sister I would get there as quick as I could.  I would call the temple and have them track him down and come out as quickly as he got home.

We made it out here just after 9 am.  By that time, they had moved her off the floor and into her chair.  They didn’t want to move her without Paramedics just in case she had injured her back this time.  She was in a lot of pain when I got there.  I was the last one of the siblings to arrive since I live the farthest away of the local ones.  We have a brother in Oregon.

Mom relishing that they made such a fuss over here at the Festival of Trees in 2010

Mom relishing that they made such a fuss over her at the Festival of Trees in 2010

Mom’s had some pretty challenging times the last couple of years.  Every time she took a fall, her dementia seemed to get a little worse and she would sometimes be very ornery with the aides at her Assisted Living facilities.  In fact…. we’ve had to move her…. 3 times, since we put her in Assisted Living.  This last time was the hardest move because it was to a memory unit, and yet it has proven to be the biggest blessing we could have asked for.  We were able to still surround her with the things she loves to look at and she got a Mountain view back out of her window.  She seemed very happy.  In fact… she’s only been here two weeks.  The staff was just getting to know her and most of them have said that they really liked her.

What can I say about Jen?  ….Also lovingly known as “Grandma Shit” by her grand kids.  She was a character.  Always kind and accepting of everyone, but she did love to cuss.  It really was just a part of her.  The last few years, as her dementia got worse…. the aides took more of it than some of them could handle.  She could be very mean some days, which comes with aging and dementia.  But that wasn’t my Mom.  My ‘real’ Mom?  Well…. that’s a different story!

I remember being embarrassed as a teenager that my Mom swore.  It was something we were taught in our church that we shouldn’t do.  Though I was embarrassed…. my friends thought it was funny.  They actually loved her for it.  It became easier for me to accept it because of that.  They thought she was a hoot.  Though I became accepting of it….. I did NOT want to become one who would cuss myself.  I pride myself that I didn’t….. at least till I started having kids!   It’s funny how being frustrated with your kids can bring it out of you!  For some reason…. it’s not as ‘funny’ when I do it.  It’s something I really do need to bring under control.

Despite her cursing…. she was a jewel.  As I reflect upon her life and all the things she has done over the years, she was a pretty amazing lady.  She was always busy doing something, or volunteering for things.  She was blessed to be able to be a stay at home Mom, but she was always involved in something.  I’ll mention the things that I remember….but I may miss a few.  After all…. I AM the baby in the family!

As a kid, I remember Mom always taking care of Dad for lunch.  Dad had his own business as a Brick Mason.  Whenever he was working locally (within a couple of miles or so) Mom would often bring him a fresh lunch.  I remember her packing his lunch box to take on the job.  Many times I would ride with her to take Daddy his lunch.

My Dad loved to garden.  He was raised on a farm, so gardening was  passion of his.  We had several fruit trees in our back yard as well as a large vegetable garden he grew.  And guess who got to take care of the harvest?  Mom of course.  I remember her spending hours canning fruit and vegetables and even freezing some.  She also made freezer jam for us.  Our ‘fruit room’, as it was called, (under the porch where it was all stored) was always full of bottled goods.  Of course, she made sure all of us girls knew how to can fruit and vegetables. Every year they insisted that we all share in their harvest for our own families.  After all…. Dad was producing the same amount of food but with no children left at home to consume it!

I remember Mom giving service at the local hospital as a “Pink Lady”.  I don’t know if they even call them that anymore.  She would sit there close to the entrance and help people as they came in the hospital looking for patients.  I believe they also circulated around to the patients to see if there was something they could help them with or bring them.  It was a good way for her to spend her days while Dad was at work.

Mom was always involved in music.  Even from a very small age.  She was involved in what would be considered her High School musicals.  Though they were called Operettas back then.  She was able to play the leading lady her Senior year.  I remember her always telling us about the big seminary choir she directed. She was very proud of that.  I think I was too young at the time to really remember, but she said it was very big.  The high school kids loved it and gave her great support.

Since music meant so much to her and singing herself was something she loved to do, she finally got involved in the Bountiful Sweet Adeline’s.    Oh, how she loved her Barbershop music!  It was there she met her friends, Ann Schow, Eulala Butters and Thelma Robinson.  They formed a quartet which they called “The Classics”.  They were together for many years and did a lot of traveling and competing.  The won the Region 12 title champs one year.  They really were great and it was a big part of her life.  It became a big part of mine too.  I have great memories of attending Sweet Adeline concerts and performances.  In fact…. I got to meet the Osmond Brothers before they became big!

Taken on Mother's Day 2012.  They insisted we all wear a hat.  Mom loved this picture.  It's my two sisters and I with her.  How come they don't do this with the men?  My brothers missed out!

Taken on Mother’s Day 2012. They insisted we all wear a hat. Mom loved this picture. It’s my two sisters and I with her. How come they don’t do this with the men? My brothers missed out!

Unfortunately, my Mom started having some health challenges pretty early on.  She had some issues with her lungs and felt she was never really able to sing after that.  That pretty much ended her Sweet Adeline’s and quartet career.

She was asked to serve on the very first committee for the Festival of Trees here in Salt Lake.  She was one of the 13 original board members.  It was fun to watch that thing grow from just a very small event to becoming one of the biggest fund raisers for Primary Children’s Medical Center.  We watched it go from one small armory building to two armory buildings within the first few years.  Then they moved to the Salt Palace and just had to keep expanding using more of the conference center space every year as it continued to grow.  Now I believe it’s the largest festival of it’s kind in the nation.  (I might add that it was also the FIRST!)  What those women created became a popular idea to copy for many other areas of the country, including a couple more here in Utah.

I think she served about 15 years on that committee.  Still to this day, they are honored to see her when she attends.  I took her for a couple of years and they loved to bring her back to the board room area and introduce her to all the current board members.  She loved it!  In fact…. I think it was the 2011 Festival that was a 40 year celebration of it’s beginning.  They had made pins for all the board members that year and she was thrilled when they gave her one.  Who knew the Festival would last 40 years…. and it’s still going.  I doubt it will ever stop.  It’s one of the most loved events for the public to attend at the beginning of the Christmas holidays.

This year… I will be crocheting and donating several hats in my Mom’s honor.  I promised her I would.  I’m kind of excited to do it!

As I mentioned earlier… Mom’s health challenges started at an early age.  She had the trouble with her lungs that pretty much ended her singing career.  Though she had had several incidences prior to being diagnosed, it took several years for them to discover that she was diabetic.  Just that alone has brought on many problems over the years.  It’s amazing how well she has done though.  She’s was one tough cookie.  Unfortunately, many years ago she had to have a false eye front put in because her corneal transplants rejected two times, so they had to make a false eye front for her.  It was kind of eery to walk in the room when she was sleeping and have that one eye be open and staring at you!  We all got used to it and actually kind of loved it.

Mom and Dad did a lot of traveling.  They loved it.  They bought themselves a small place in St. George so they could escape for the winter.  They loved being Snow Birds and made many friends in the community.  It was a heart breaking year when Dad decided they were through going down for the winter.  If he couldn’t drive them anymore…. then he was through!  It was only a few months later my Dad passed away.

Mom was truly friendly to everyone.  I remember how lost she was when Dad first died.  She would just sit at home most of the day and stare at the TV.  Most of the time it wasn’t even on.  After her stroke, she needed more care.  It was a tough decision to move her to Assisted Living.  After she got out of rehab for her stroke we had to move her for better care.  She was going to need help 24/7.  We did promise her however, that if she hated it after three months, we would figure out how to take care of her in her home.

She loved it!  She gracefully accepted her condition and made new friends immediately.  In fact, she discovered a few friends from her high school were there.  She didn’t have any trouble with the idea of us selling that big house.  In fact, after she had fully rehabbed from her stroke…. she became a little mother hen.  She was always concerned about the other residents.  She’d check in on them and make sure they got down to dinner, etc.  It was wonderful to see her feeling like she was needed.  Even though she couldn’t do it to the extent she did in those earlier years, she still always seemed to be concerned about other residents, right to the end.  If they weren’t eating their meals or something, she was concerned.  Always the mother hen.

Even though we only moved her two weeks ago, the staff at her current place quickly fell in love with her.  Once they saw her sassy and fun side, it was much easier to tolerate the harder days when she wasn’t as pleasant.  I’ve been amazed at how many of them commented on how much they loved her and were sad that they didn’t get much time with her.  The people from hospice that have worked with her for the last year particularly loved her.  It was so nice to see that others could still see our ‘real’ Mom and love her for it.

Her grandchildren loved her.  She always made us laugh and made us realize how important family is.  The more family gatherings we had, the happier she was.  Unfortunately, those became harder as the family got bigger and began to grow up.  Our yearly Christmas parties were very important to her.  Even amongst all the chaos and noise, she still loved to see the family.

Mom passed away peacefully today, March 4th at around 7 pm.  I’m so grateful for the testimony I have of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I’m so grateful for the knowledge of knowing that we will all be together again.  I’m so glad she is now reunited with my Dad and is happy.  I know Heavenly Father was there to greet her with a big smile on his face.   I’m sure she is running and laughing and so grateful that she is mobile and no longer needs help.  I’m pretty sure Heaven will be a little more fun with her there!

Thanks for all you did for us Mom.  Thanks for being such a wonderful influence on me and on all the family.  Thank you for passing on your musical talent to me and my children as well as many others.  Thank you for all your support over the years.  I know you’ve been so concerned about me lately.  Now you know I’m going to be fine…… and you and Dad will both be there to watch over me and make sure I am!  Thank you for that!

I love you will all my heart.  You will be sorely missed by us all.  I’m not sure what life will be like without you!  We will carry on and your legacy will live on forever.  I hope I can have half as much influence on my posterity as you’ve had on yours.

I Am Grateful!  How Are You?

I just remembered I did a blog post about my Mom on her birthday two years ago.  Here’s the link.  It even adds a little more I didn’t talk about here.

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10 responses »

  1. Thanks for writing this mom. It’s a great tribute. One of the things I’l always be grateful for was that Christmas Eve we spent caroling at Avalon. It was so fun to see Grandma with her peers. She was so outgoing, kind, loving and comapassionate. She could strike up a conversation with any of them and they all loved her. I didn’t know how friendly and outgoing she was until that night. So grateful I got to see that side of her as well.

  2. What a great tribute. We will miss her very much, she has always been such a big part of our lives. In a neighborhood with no fences, we always dropped in when they were sitting on the porch or working in the garden. They were our family. A part of every holiday, and a part of every lazy summer evening.

  3. Hi Wanda, Condolences on your mother’s passing yesterday. Happy for her that she is on the other side and made whole physically and mentally again. Having gone through this a little over a year ago I know it is bittersweet. Just because it’s better, it doesn’t make you stop missing them. Good luck with all the funeral plans. I’m thinking of you. I am home recovering from rotator cuff surgery. I will not be at the viewing.

    Love the photo of you with your mom and sisters in the hats! So adorable! Also loved reading your thoughts about your mother. No wonder you are so talented!

    Love, Marsha

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Thanks, Marsha! You are so sweet. I remember you going through this lasts year. Your Mom was right next door to my Mom at the time. I’ll never forget how you kept vigil night and day and so sweetly and patiently waited for her time to come.

      It is a bittersweet time. So glad she is out of pain but I will miss her! Thanks for your kindness and thoughts

  4. What a wonderful tribute to your mother! She sounds like an elect lady. You have inherited so many of her best qualities and are a tribute to her in every way. I enjoy your posts and have been inspired by your courage and by your “attitude of gratitude.” Your mother is proud of you! I am so happy for her in her new assignment!

    • Oh you are sweet Gayle! I do have a lot of Mom in me. Particularly the sassiness! 🙂 Thanks for you kind words. I can always count on you to be there. Wish you were here to play the piano for Nila and Laurie and I to sing at the funeral. You’ve always been a good friend. Love you!

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