Thursday, August 10, 2017

Vaya con Dios, Mom

Mom and I on the beach in Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, MX 2014
This blog is about Mexico so I'll explain up front how I can write about my mom when she never visited us in Merida. First of all, it's my blog and I can blog about whatever I want to blog about, right? And right now I want to write about my mom. These are my thoughts and my thoughts alone so others may or may not agree with me. Secondly, on a more serious note, my mom had surgery in January to repair an aortic aneurysm. The surgery kicked her butt but through a stay in skilled nursing, more hospital time, and more skilled nursing time she managed to go back to her independent living apartment in Carriage Inn, Bryan, TX and live some more. Read on, the connection will come through clearly. 

On Monday, June 19th she and her lady friends from Carriage Inn took the chauffeur driven limo to a Mexican food restaurant (see, Mexican food, get it?) where they spent the entire day laughing, eating AND drinking margaritas. Now I won't get into whether drinking the margaritas was a good thing for my mom to do or not. She was 86 years old and if she wanted to drink margaritas I personally think it was an excellent idea. I can't think of a better thing to be doing when later on it unveils as being the last hoo-rah. The next day while I'm sitting in a second class bus station in Tizimin, Yucatan with Terry and four of our dear friends, visitors and fellow adventurous warriors, I get a text from Joanne, my sister, saying Mama was being life-flighted to Temple, TX due to her heart. I can assure you she wasn't near as excited about the helicopter ride as she was about the chauffer driven limo. She withstood a second surgery, and fought for another six weeks before saying her final good-bye. 

I flew home the following Sunday to visit Mama, and the very next day Terry received a call that his dad had died. So, he came home the next day which was a Tuesday. Our lives have changed forever since then.

So today is Thursday, August 10th and I am thinking about how I could never stand up at a funeral and do a eulogy. I would be bawling like a baby. But, I can write. So here's some things about my mama that may surprise some of you but it's what I have to say and I'm the one at this time with full editorial licensure. I'm writing this prior to leaving to go to Anderson, TX to attend her funeral.

For some strange reason, I'm proud of her for having those margaritas at that last pachanga to celebrate one of her friend's 90th-something birthday. I mean, what exactly do you expect at a birthday party of mature women? Cake and ice cream? Shish!

She had five kids with daughter-in-laws and son-in laws. In her obituary it says she has 16 grandkids and 29 great-grandkids and 6 great-great grandkids. We know the number is right for the grandkids, but we never could get a good count on the great-grandkids so we should have added mas or menos in the obituary but I know the cost goes up for each line in the obituary so we had to be careful with extra words. Whatever the number, she and my dad left quite a legacy behind. And it's a pretty successful brood at that. If you define fertile as being successful, then one could say very, very successful. She loved family and she was a sweet, kind person. But, she did know how to play family members at times. She had a hard time expressing direct unhappiness with any of us. Her way of doing it was to say something about one of us to the other in hopes we could share the unhappiness and she would kinda be off the hook. Think about it, it always gave her an out. We were all on to it though, and my standard response was , "Mom, if you have a beef about so and so, you need to let them know. Don't tell me as I can't do anything about it."

Another Mexico connection - several years back when Mazatlán was just becoming a place for tourists to go to, ie, still inexpensive to go there, Mama, Joanne and I took a "girl's trip" to Mazatlán. Mom would always say when she was around the two of us she was glad she didn't have a sister because there seemed to be "competition" between us. In Mazatlán my sister and I (with the help of the matriarch Mama) managed to attract every Mexican man's attention. Seriously, it was a pretty heady experience and we were younger and pretty cute at the time. Mix in a little alcohol and you know what you get. Well, one night we ended up putting Mom in bed after a long night of dining, drinking and dancing and we hooked up with a couple of nice-looking Mexican men and went drinking and dancing. Note to the younger set - I do not recommend doing this, but it was damn fun. I mean, husbands were home minding the kids and we were galavanting in Mazatlán with some pretty nice-looking Mexican dudes. They could very well have been members of the Mexican drug cartel but on that night we didn't care. We ended up dancing at a pretty swank, exclusive place. I've seriously read where there have been some bad happenings at that place. Mom was very aware and pretty upset that we had left her behind, but secretly I can say you can only party with your mom for so long. She was still our mom. But, my sister never kept anything from my mom. She always told her too much in my opinion, but that's just my opinion. Mom knows all the details about that night and she won't be telling a soul on this earth now. Very recently, Joanne was talking to my sister-in-law and mentioned something about how Mom was the only person that always thought she was perfect. And my mom did think she was perfect. Honestly, when it came to my mom, my sister was, in fact,  perfect in how she treated her. But, my sister was quickly reminded that my mom didn't think she was perfect after all because, not to forget, Mom was in Mazatlán with the two 'seestas'. So after all these years, me (the younger sister) finally finds out my mom didn't think my sister was perfect after all! 

She was a member of the Catholic Church in Anderson, TX where she will be buried. But, after moving to the Carriage Inn from the ranch, she reluctantly changed churches and attended the Catholic Church in Bryan. She never really felt like it was "her church", but one thing she did enjoy was getting to be chauffeured in the limo. She wasn't used to that growing up or being married to my dad, that's for sure. So it was cool that she was feeling special and pampered at Carriage Inn. She told me about one trip to church and when church was out, she was walking outside next to a lady when the lady spotted the waiting limo and driver and made some comment about wondering who in the parish was getting picked up in a limo. My mom looked and saw it was her ride and turned to the lady and said, "Oh, that would be me!" When my mom was telling me about it, she told me she felt like a "rich bitch" as she stepped outside and got helped into the back of that fancy limo. 

While in the hospital, a couple of funny things come to mind. One was that it drove my mom crazy when all of her offspring texted. I guess she thought we were talking about her behind her back, and for the last six weeks of her life we were. We shared when she ate, what she ate, how much she ate, how long it took to go through her, her blood pressure readings, whether she felt nauseous, whether she was able to do her daily physical therapy or not, whether or not she was breathing with oxygen, and the list goes on. She was vain and wore these little tiny hearing aids. I wish I had the money she spent on the ones she misplaced or couldn't wear because they didn't fit in her ears correctly, etc. She had a constant problem with them but one thing was damn sure, you couldn't see them and it didn't appear she had to have hearing aids. But, she had a tendency to not wear them and they did very little good when she didn't have them in. Unless you were texting. They could be sitting on her bedside table and she could still hear you texting. Of course she didn't have them in her ears at the end stage of her life. Shortly after I showed up, I was texting out my report to the family members about what she was or wasn't doing and I didn't have my phone on silent. While sitting about 4-5 feet away from her I was texting away when she asked me what that noise was. Ummm, I had been caught in the act. I acted stupid just like I did when I was about 12, and asked her what kind of noise did she hear. And she said it was a click, click click like a little animal. I just slid my hand to the little button and turned off the sound completely. But, I guess mothers really do have a sixth sense. I'm quite sure she knew what I was doing even thought at that point she was no longer opening her eyes. 

Also, during that same visit she made a reference to the book "Fifty Shades of Gray". The nurse was in taking her vitals and casually asked my mom if she had read the book. Unlike most 86 year olds I know, she answered with a sense of pride and giddiness that she had read every word of it. The nurse raised her eyebrows and looked at me as if she wanted me to confirm that she had read it because she didn't believe it. Yep, she read it. But, in fact, she was an avid reader her whole life and read many novels. Some with a lot more substance than the content of that book. For years now, I have talked about my dream of writing a novel. Not just any novel, but a steamy book with lots of inner conflict amongst the characters. The story line has stuck with me for many years. Many of my friends know about this. I always laugh and ask myself why I don't write it. Well, truthfully it's my own fears keeping me from writing it. I could never use the excuse that I can't dare write "that kind of book" while my mom is alive. Shoot, she would have helped me write it!

I only know of one secret ever my mom told me that I don't think she ever told my sister or my brothers. At least, she told it to me about 3-4 years ago and said she had never told anybody. I won't tell you what it is, and she might have told each of us with the same message about nobody else in the family knowing. But, I will never tell. I'll just go on thinking my mom and I did say things to each other that were just between the two of us. And, in case you didn't know, I am actually very good at keeping secrets even though you may be reading this blog and doubting it.

This blog doesn't even touch the surface of my mom. She was much more complex and multi-dimensional. She was a much deeper person than this, but at this very moment this is what I/me/only I am thinking in regards to my mom. 

It's almost time for me to go get dressed and we will head to her funeral. Us kids picked out an intricately carved wooden casket for her because she loved any type of wooden box. I don't know that she really had "this kind of wooden box" in mind all those years of expressing her love for wooden boxes, but somehow it seems fitting to send her off in a beautifully carved wooden casket. And, it isn't a plain pine box I assure you. She'll be nicely dressed with her jewelry on. Even to the very end, she kept her vanity. I think it had something to do with her being ready to die. She kept saying she wanted her health to return to the level it was before she had her last surgery. I think when she realized it wasn't going to happen, and at best, she could hope for being in assisted living or a nursing home rather than independent living, and having to have a wheelchair she decided it was time to go. That wasn't really her idea of living.

The other thing the casket is that it has a little tray for the family members to put treasures in there for her. Kate, my daughter, said she wishes she had a piece of "shocking fruit" from the Schwan truck she could put in there. That's Kate's story and I would have to let her tell it. As for me, I'm putting in a peso so she can have one last margarita. From this day on, any time I drink a margarita I will think of you, Mama. You had your last pachanga and each of us will remember you in a different way, and have a different set of fond memories. But I already know, I'll remember the fun times.

Vaya con Dios, Mom

Just a note: Right after we took this picture my mom went and sat down on the beach where she proceeded to buy a handful of jewelry from a vendor. So she could put it on. We were at Kim's wedding venue and stayed for a week. She didn't go to the wedding because in her words she didn't feel up to it. But she came to life a few days later. I think I'm finally over that one!
All through the travels she let her sweet Mexican friend push her in a wheelchair and she got VIP treatment because of this. We arrived back in the states at the airport and we all got whisked through security ahead of everybody else that was just as tired, but because she was in the wheelchair. A minute later, she then jumped out of that wheelchair and did a little happy dance movement as she walked out to get in the waiting car. Did I tell you there were times she really knew how to frustrate me and embarrass me? 


  1. No, she never told me a secret ! Guess she knew I am not good at keeping secrets even when they involve me! I pray my kids think of me the way we think of our mom!!!!!

  2. Oh, how I wish I could be there today to hear all these beautiful stories. I'd be laughing and crying all day long.
    Until then... xoxo. Rhonda

  3. Beautiful story Bev... I encourage you to write that novel.