On April 28, 2021, my Mom joined my father, one of my
sisters, a beloved niece and all of her siblings in Heaven. If it is like any other family reunion I have
attended, it would begin with Mass.
Faith was front and center for the German Catholic families on both
sides, and especially for my Mom; you wouldn’t think to begin anything
without having given thanks to God.
And THEN you could tuck into the bountiful buffet before you – home-made
fried chicken, roast beef, chicken with noodles, potato salad, Jell-O with the
requisite shredded carrots or cabbage, and desserts that seem to outnumber the
stars in the sky.
It is not lost on me that
today is Mother’s Day in the U.S. I couldn't bring myself to write this post last week, and then it occurred to me the post would fall on Mother’s
Day – how appropriate! What is motherhood? Sacrifice.
Nurturing. Passing on traditions
and values. My Mom had a heart the size of Texas. How else would she have raised 7 kids and
looked after my Dad until he passed in 1998?
Who can count the washed diapers (cloth, you know), the meals, the number of
sick kids, etc.? I am pretty sure I
could not have done it. To borrow a quote from one of my nephews on FaceBook: "She is selfless, humble, a crochet master, a gooseberry pie chef, and a
shining example of love." So, I begin this post with gratitude. I was blessed to have my Mom for 92 years (or 33,274 days, as my younger brother
posted on FB). I am thankful that
my parents welcomed every child that the Lord sent; as number six out of my
seven siblings, I would have been out of luck if they had decided to stop after
2! Like many children, the years spent raising my own children and building my
career translated to less time with Mom, but we were fortunate that she often
came to visit us. Texas for the birth of
our daughter (with Dad). Arizona for the
birth of our son (Dad passed away right before his birth). England during our
expatriate assignment. Cleveland, Ohio
for multiple events, including the graduation of both of our children.You asked her to go
somewhere, and she said yes. (Although
she was a bit more reticent if she was footing the bill … she was legendary for
picking the least expensive item at restaurants when she was paying. Well, on second thought, it didn't matter who was paying!) But that penny-wise mentality fed and clothed
9 people on a tight budget, and you might be shocked to know the value of savings
and investments she had accumulated by her retirement. It was important to her to leave money for
her children, even though most of us don’t need it.
Toward the end of my career, I spent most of my working days
in Troy, Ohio, which was only a 45-minute drive to Mom. One night of every week, I would join her for
dinner (she almost always insisted on feeding me rather than going out). We ate, watched Wheel of Fortune and played
cards (almost always Kings in the Corner).
Both of my parents
gave us the gift of a strong work ethic. I
especially admire my Mom because, after nearly 30 years as a home-maker, she went
to work as a shoe salesperson and became very successful. Introverted most of her life, I can only
imagine the mental strength it took for her to do this. She was my very first role model for what
women can do in the workplace.
we moved to Montana in 2017, Mom visited us twice. The first time she traveled with my oldest
sister, a trip they made via Amtrak, thus fulfilling a dream to travel
overnight by train. This coincided with my early days of blogging, and I
documented the visit in several posts
(9/10/2017, 10/9/2017, 12/8/2017, 2/9/2018). By that time, Mom
had begun using a walker (nick-named the Cadillac), and it still amazes me that
she would walk anywhere as long as the ground was fairly level.
Mom loved Cardinals,
and one of her favorite colors was red.
Her Cadillac and her tri-cycle were red!
The second visit was part of a larger trip in September 2018,
encompassing Colorado, Utah, Yellowstone and the Tetons along the way. Two of my brothers and their spouses, along with my oldest sister,
were accompanying her. The whole gang
stayed with us at our freshly minted log home.
It was a very special day when Mom harvested the first of the apples
from an apple tree that had been planted in her honor.
Mom always told us
that she moved off the farm because she didn’t like dirt. Later in life, she relished gardening, and
had quite the collection of thriving African violets. She also enjoyed crocheting (see July 16, 2017), and created many
baby blankets for her grandchildren. She
crocheted many animals, especially giraffes for great-grands. Lest you think she was completely soft-hearted, woe to those who might
have her for a euchre partner when she was wasn’t winning! She might have a word or two for you if you
dealt the other team a good hand, or she felt you mis-played a hand!
December, we threw a party in Ohio to commemorate her 90th
birthday (see 1/19/2019 post). Part of my contribution was a memory book,
aptly titled “GG at 90 Still on the Go”.
At that time, Mom had
17 grandchildren and 20 great-grands. At
this writing, she has 25 great-grands and one more on the way.
In between all of these visits, I had weekly Skype calls
with Mom. For a woman that grew up with
no running water, electricity or radio, I was always impressed with her
willingness and ability to learn new technology.
I will miss her, but
since she is at peace, I am at peace.
Isolation must have been difficult for her, even though she was a fairly
introverted person. You don’t want
someone close to you to die, but you also do not want to see them suffer.
Fast forward to June 2020.
The U.S. is three months into the pandemic and Mom goes on 24-hour
oxygen to help her burdened lungs and heart.
As I wrote in my June 21, 2020 post, it was time to give back just a small portion of what I had received. I prepared the
meals, a turning of the tables after 90 years of Mom’s cooking. I
could tell she was becoming frailer, and the oxygen issues affected her
short-term memory. (Ultimately, my two
older sisters would move her from independent living in Dayton to assisted
living in Cincinnati in late October). But
the rest of our traditions remained intact.
Playing cards. Watching Wheel of
Fortune. Eating Butter Pecan ice cream
She could also be
incredibly stubborn about letting go of things.
For years to come, I think we will tell the story about her cast-iron
skillet. Used for decades to cook
everything from eggs to roast beef, it was “seasoned”.
When my sisters moved her, the skillet was one of the things to go. For months afterward, we heard about that
skillet. One time she even asked me if I
thought we could find it if we made the rounds of the thrift stores!
With the benefit of hindsight, I can see the deterioration. She was sleeping more. She had a hard time remembering how to use
her cell phone. For cyber security, we
removed her laptop and it became quite difficult to reach her by phone, and
scheduling Skype calls through her facility was challenging during the height
of the pandemic. On April 12, 2021, she
was admitted to the ER for shortness of breath.
By the end of the week, the doctors would conclude that there was
nothing more that they could do, and that, without extraordinary measures, her
congestive heart failure would lead to her death within six months.
Many family members
visited her that weekend, saying their “good-byes.” Each in our own way, in those final days,
told Mom that it was OK to go.I flew to Ohio on April 19, and joined Mom and my older
sister at the hospital. (I was happy to
give my sister some relief – especially because the weeks leading up to Mother’s
Day at the florist shop can be quite busy.)
After my arrival, the doctor planned to lower the oxygen level
gradually, which was expected to cause further deterioration in her
condition. It could be fast, or she
could linger. They would keep her
comfortable from pain. I spent much of
that first night watching for any change in the rising and falling of her
From the FB post of a niece-in-law: I have loved getting to know you over the past 6 years. I love how we have bonded over our shared love of sauerkraut soup. There have been many amazing memories, but the one I will hold close was seeing you meet and hold our second daughter, and have our first daughter collect sticks for you, just 19 days before your passing. Heaven is happy to have you! We are thrilled you are there playing all the euchre your heart desires.The next afternoon, she was transferred back to her
apartment, and she seemed to rally. We
ate together (she consistently consumed ALL of her breakfast), played cards and
chatted. Nurses from hospice provided care around the
clock in two shifts. I didn’t see the
same nurse twice during my three days at the apartment; they were wonderful
women and would ask about our family. One
of the first nurses asked Mom if her husband was handsome, and Mom replied “Well,
of course!” There was nothing wrong with
her repartee those last few days. And it
didn’t take long to figure out that we should show the nurses my memory book
and the one made by one of my nieces for her 80th birthday; while
Mom was sleeping, it could bring her to life for them.
From the FB post of a niece: I am happy that she is finally dancing with her husband again after 20 years since his death.
“Old Mom” peeked out at random moments. My oldest brother celebrated a birthday
during my stay with Mom, and she wanted to call and wish him a happy
birthday. Darn it if she didn’t sing it
for him!!! And at every meal, she would
offer us some of her food. Until the
very end, she was still worried that everyone was getting enough to eat.
Spousal Unit recalls
his first visit to my Mom and Dad’s house, before we were married. Mom served sauerkraut soup and home-made bread. He always loved her bread; it took him a few
more years to acquire the taste for the soup!
Mom was also legendary for her gooseberry pie, and from an early age I
recall that she made popcorn with bacon grease – you can’t beat the extra
flavor!Our daughter lives in Cincinnati, and she was indispensable,
bringing food for me and my sister, keeping me company and providing
transportation to and from the airport.
She was there the last night of my stay, and took these photos as we
played cards. These are the last
pictures I have of my Mom. That night,
as she was getting ready for “bed”, I sang her a few songs and she mouthed the
words along with me. “Row, row, row your
boat.” “America the Beautiful.” “Amazing Grace.” I reminded her that I would be leaving in the
morning, and that I loved her. She
nodded, and said she would miss me. The
next morning, she had slipped deeper into sleep and didn’t respond to my touch
or farewell. How blessed I was to have
those final days with her.
In December 2013, when
my Mom was 85, she gave each of her children a book “Mother’s Memories to her
Child.” Each page had prompts, and Mom’s
unique handwriting captured her responses.
I hope I have taught you that God
is in control and continue to do His will.
“Come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest.” The
thing that I most look forward to about heaven: Reunion with your father
and sister, my Mother and Father. One
great reunion. Seeing God.
At her service, Deacon Larry spoke about the Egyptian belief
that people die twice – the first is the physical death, and the second death
is when no one remains to tell stories about the person. This post was certainly for me, but it is
also about perpetuating her memory through stories. Until we meet again, Mom!
Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme
where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Tuesday (U.S. Mountain
Remember to add the link to your Mosaic Monday post and not the one to your
Please link back to this post so that your readers will be able to visit and
enjoy more wonderful mosaics; taking the MM blog button from my sidebar is an
easy way to link back.
As host I will visit every participant and leave a comment so that you know I
Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join
in later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully.
Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us.
...a wonderful look back at a beautiful woman in your life. I hope that you are having a great day.ReplyDelete
Happy Mother’s Day! What a sweet picture of your mom at the top and what a full and glorious life she led, leaving behind many happy memories. I was in my twenties when mom passed away suddenly. Not sure if I’m still over the shock. Every moment with loved ones is precious.ReplyDelete
Wow... what a heartful Post. This remberings are wonderful. You can be lucky, having such a fantastisc Mom.ReplyDelete
Happy Mother's Day!ReplyDelete
So good to have beautiful memories.ReplyDelete
In Sweden we celebrate Mothers day the last sudnay in May, so, for us it is not yet time.
Have a great week.
I'm very sorry. A wonderful tribute to her.ReplyDelete
What a lovely, lovely post. It made me smile through the whole thing. You mom was awesome! Paragliding at 80? She was hot stuff!!ReplyDelete
I am so very sorry for your loss. I'm sure you will miss her terribly.
That was such a beautiful and loving tribute to your very special Mom. Happy Mother's Day!ReplyDelete
A beautiful post about your Mom and a wonderful blessing that you were able to spend time with her. Thinking of you and the family.ReplyDelete
So sorry for your loss. Your mom sounds like a great woman. I am glad she was active late into her life and experienced and learned new things. What a great tribute you give her.ReplyDelete
Hello my friend. I am so sorry to hear about your Mom's passing. This was a lovely post. So wonderful to read her story. And yours. Take care. 💕 KitReplyDelete
Dear Angie, I am so very sorry to hear of your mother's passing. I loved reading about her in your post. She sounds like a very special lady, full of love and deep faith. May you find comfort in your memories and knowing she is with the Lord she loved.ReplyDelete
I am so very sorry and saddened with the loss of your beautiful mum, Angie. A most beautiful, poignant and heartfelt tribute. How wonderful she is no longer in pain and is dancing with your dad, in heaven. You cannot wish her back as she is now at peace with her Lord who she has loved and served all her life. Your mum sounds like the most wonderful lady, loving her family and being kind to those who passed her way. A well lived life overspilling with love and faith. May you hold those treasured memories of her close to your heart. Take care, dear Angie. XxReplyDelete
My deepest sympathy on the loss of your mother, Angie! What wonderful photos and memories you've shared with us all of her incredible life and spirit. She had the same sweet smile in her last year as she had on her wedding day. May she rest in peace and glory with the Lord. (((Hugs))) and prayers for you and your family.ReplyDelete
Wow! My goodness, what a wonderful story and tribute to your Mother. My Mother died at age 95---sharp as a tack to the end. She said she was tired, ready to go and so she did. I said good night to her that night and that was it. She had quite a life---she should have or she could have written a book.ReplyDelete
So, sorry for your loss but the memories will be with you forever.
I send my love and thoughts to you at this sad time. But it wounds like your Mum lived her life well, and that you have many precious memories of her. and that you will keep the memory of her alive. hugs. Stay safe and thankyou for sharing your Mum with us today. Stay safe.ReplyDelete
I am so sorry to hear about your Mother passing. It sounds like she had a wonderful life. You have beautiful photos and happy memories of your Mom. This is a great tribute post for Mother's Day. Sending my prayers for you and your family.
Oh my friend, I am so sorry for your loss. She was a beautiful lady and I know you have so many good memories to share and enjoy to make it less painful. We lost my dear mother in law one year ago this month so I know how hard it is to lose someone so precious. I'm so glad you were there at the end and she had those amazing Hospice workers to help. Sweet hugs and prayers for you and your family. This was a beautiful tribute to her.ReplyDelete
What a wonderful, heartfelt and beautiful post this is, Angie. Your mother sounds like an amazing person and the memories you and your family you have of her are strong and touching, and they certainly move not only you, but people like us who read of them here. May you all be well and remember her with love!ReplyDelete
Deepest condolences on your loss, Angie. Losing a loving parent is a heavy blow.ReplyDelete
Oh Angie, I was smiling and let out a little chuckle about the cast-iron skillet, but by the end you had me in tears. What a beautiful tribute to your mom. You are so fortunate to have been able to spend those last days with her doing all the things you loved doing together. What a blessing. I'm so sorry for your loss but she certainly did live a very long and loved life. The book she gave each of you for her 85th is truly a treasure. Sending you lots of hugs, TammyReplyDelete
What a wonderful tribute to your wonderful Mother. I am from a large German Catholic family also. The greatest!!! Wrap those memories around your Heart and they will be with you forever. Happy Mother's DayReplyDelete
I'm sorry for your loss. But what wonderful memories. The perfect Mother's Day post. I still use my Mom's cast iron skillet. The same one she used forever. It was in great condition until I left it in the broiler, thinking it was a storage area. (twenty years ago) It is a little ugly, but I still use it all the time. I heat tortillas in it, make egg bakes and popcorn.ReplyDelete
What a wonderful tribute to your dear mom. Just perfect for Mother's day. So sorry for your earthly loss. May God comfort you and all who love her with peace and hope.ReplyDelete
Angie, My deepest sympathies! What a wonderful tribute to your Mom. I am glad you got to visit before she passed. Happy Mother's day to you. My Mom is 87 later this year. I am blessed still have here. No visit again this year due to COVID. Have a good week. Sylvia DReplyDelete
Dear Angie - I'm so very sorry to read of the passing of your mom. What a lovely tribute you have made for her by sharing so many memories. Sending you my sincere condolences from Saudi Arabia.ReplyDelete
That's a wonderful tribute. Your mother sounds like a fantastic person.ReplyDelete
Dear Angie - So sorry to hear about your mother’s passing. I read this heartfelt post remembering my late mother including her final weeks and found so many I can relate to regardless of our different background. Motherhood is universal. Sad but there is also peace when parting is part of the order of things. Her children have inherited her spiritual patrimony. I especially like the photo of her riding on tri-cycle and #18 where she’s eating something directly from a pan. She must be rest in peace with her loved ones and be beside you smiling whenever you think of her.ReplyDelete
Dear Angie, a most beautiful post.ReplyDelete
Lovely photographs and special memories you have shared.
Thinking of you ...
All the best Jan
Heartfelt commiserations Angie. You came up with a lovely post that is a wonderful tribute to you mum.As you intimate - mums like your own are the backbone of our respective countries. Mums like that are an inspiration and a shining example to the young ladies of today. This post should be shared wide and far.ReplyDelete
Pictures of your family. Sorry about your mother.ReplyDelete
What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman and mother. You have a treasure of memories that honour her and you forever.ReplyDelete
Angie, this is such a beautiful tribute. Your mom was a wonderful lady; I am so glad you got to spend that time with her not too long ago...that was special. And I think I remember when she visited you in your beautiful new Montana home. I enjoyed this post so much.ReplyDelete
My sincere condolences to you, Angie.ReplyDelete
What a wonderful tribute to your lovely Mother.
You did your mother proud with this beautiful tribute. I really enjoyed reading about her life. God Bless you as you mourn her passing and give you peace and comfort.ReplyDelete