Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Comin' in from "The Edge..."

Mama Mia…In Memoriam.

Mom passed away last Friday, March 7 at 8:28 pm. She was 91.

I used to think that "passed away" was a wussy euphemism for death. But the way mom made her transition, she really did "pass away." She'd had a good day, that day, and was even cooperating with her physical therapist! I fed her her dinner and afterwards she said she was tired and wanted to get back in bed.
About 20 minutes later -- and just 2 minutes after my sister walked in from work -- she took a big gasp like she was trying to catch her breath...and while she continued to breathe for a couple more hours, she never regained consciousness. So my sister and I just sat there with her...holding her hands and singing stupid pop songs and show tunes (Mom loved to sing) and watched the Chicago Bulls play the Boston Celtics (Mom was a big sports fan…and she loved her Bulls!) while her breathing became slower and more shallow…until finally it just stopped and she quietly passed away.

Mom had been in the hospital since January 28. I was usually with her from lunchtime (bringing her a "contraband" McDonald's happy meal or Taco Supreme from Taco Bell...her favorites :-) through the dinner hour till my sister got there after work at around 6:30, when we'd switch off. Sometimes I'd stay, too, and we'd all watch Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune and American Idol together. We got to spend some good quality time together there at the end. Ironically, Mom was going to be released on Monday and my sister and I were making plans to bring her home with (thanks to Medicare) an attendant coming in 4 hours a day. I was looking forward to it...and to having a little more time for myself.

All Mom's nurses loved her. They thought she was quite a character and would brag about her feistiness and how she would cuss them out if they had to wake her up to take her vitals. But alternately, when she was in a good mood, she would also engage them in conversation and be "sweet as pie." During those last few hours, every nurse on the floor came in to pay their respects at one time or another...and to offer comfort to my sister and me. Several were so torn up, we ended up having to give comfort to them!
Being somewhat jaded by a lot of what seems to be going on in the world today, my faith in humanity has been restored by the goodness I witnessed -- and experienced -- from my mom's nurses.

Since my sister is moving back to Chicago in the next couple months, there will be just a small funeral service in New York. Mom will be cremated and there will be a memorial service late this spring/early summer at her home church in Illinois.

As I’ve mentioned before in this column, Mom and I’d had our issues over the years, so it has been a real gift to be able to spend these last nine months with her and to get a "healing" and closure to much of our drama...

Life with her wasn't always easy...but, in retrospect, the lessons I've learned, the wisdom I've gained and the strength I've acquired because of my mama has been my blessing.

May she rest in peace...
Well, maybe not right away…the Celtics ended up beating the Bulls 116 to 93. First, she’s gonna have to give God a good “talking-to” about that one!

Mariann - aka "Mentha Berry's Daughter"
My sister Kathy Coley, Mom and me.
* * * * * *
The content from this week’s column is from an e-mail I sent out right after Mom’s passing. Many of the responses to it gave much joy to my heart. This one, in particular, is one I wanted to share with you…
Hi Mariann,

What a wonderful and loving story! Please accept my deepest condolences. You have made me feel like I knew your mom well.
You have touched my heart with your loving and caring ways.
Your mom knew love.
You have given it without reserve,
and Mentha will have it forevermore.

She will shower it upon you from above
the gift from you and a mother’s love;
to honor, protect and watch over you
as you continue life's journey and do what you do.

She appreciated and enjoyed you so much.
She used words to smokescreen her loving touch,
to harden her precious daughter from the world's cold clutch.

The smile is inside.
From the world it would not hide.
That is the fortune.
It's yours to keep.
From your heart,
it will continue to steep.

Peace, Blessings and Love.

1 comment:

Esther said...

Oh Mariann, my heart is heavy for you during this time. What a blessing for you both that you could be with her at the end.