My mother in law passed away night before last. When you hear about people dying right now, you think about The Virus, but there is a lot of death going on from other causes, sounds a little odd, but life goes on. Babies are being born, and people are dying, and we aren’t able to congregate during these times like we normally are, and that sucks.
Margaret has been living in a long term care facility because of advance Alzheimer’s for over 2 years. When they locked it down last month and no longer allowed my father in law in she started to get worse. We’ll never know how much longer she would have lasted, but we are thinking she didn’t fare well without him. Right until the end she always knew who he was. They warned him that he would be one of the first people she forgot because they had only been married about 7 years when this started, but he spent every day with her, and she never forgot. She didn’t always know his name, and she didn’t always know he was her husband, but she knew he was her love. She lit up when he came in the room, she reached for his kisses when he had to leave. I’m so very glad they found each other, I only wish they had more time together. I’ve not seen two people more in love.
They allowed him in 3 days before she passed, so he was with her at the end. I’ll be forever grateful for that. He was the only family member who got to say goodbye. She has 3 children and grandchildren, they live across the country and could not travel during this time of isolation, but it would not have mattered, they wouldn’t have been allowed in.
There will be no real service at this time. 10 people are allowed at her internment, my father in law, her caregiver, and a couple of her life long friends, all are high risk, so even this will be will be strained. When the isolation is over there will be a memorial service, but that is so different. Right now we can’t come together to grieve. We can’t hold one another. It’s like it’s not real. Nothing has changed. The only lives that have changed are Dad’s, and her caregiver’s. The most I’ve cried is while I’ve been writing this. There has been a major death in my family and it’s like nothing happened. I can’t even hug Dad, he has self isolated, and I don’t blame him, he is high risk, but I really need that hug too. I don’t know how to help. He doesn’t show much of that kind of emotion, so I don’t know how he’s doing really. He says he’s fine. I worry. She was his life. But that’s why we moved here, only how do we help when we can’t spend time with him?
Oh how I wish I could have known Margaret better, but the little I knew her, I adored her. She was an amazing woman! She was a trailblazer! She worked with computers long before it was something women did (some amazing stories there), she did amazing volunteer work, loved to hike, traveled the world, collected beautiful art, had an unwavering faith, raised 3 successful children, and was the kindest woman you could meet. and that’s just what I know about her!
I asked some people to share a memory they have of my mother….Here are some responses I received:
(from my best friend in High School) Boy, do I have memories. Let’s begin with that laugh. Especially when she laughed at television shows. And to this day, I remember her sneezes… the sound and the way she would let go of the steering wheel when she sneezed (because she didn’t want to jerk the car). The patience of a saint – especially since we would make such huge messes with Halloween decorations, fake fingernails and heaven knows the bedroom messes. And when I think about the times when we would get “that look.” You know, the one where she didn’t approve of something we did or said. She didn’t have to say a word… you knew exactly what she was thinking when she was perfectly quiet, but looking at you like you had lost your ever-loving mind. I REALLY enjoyed your mother.
(sister of my friend above) She was so funny, she always made me laugh. I can remember riding in the car with her dont remember where we were going or what we were doing but I can still remember seeing her as if we were riding in there right now!
(from a cousin) Oh darling Wendy … your mother was my second mom. When she lived in Greensboro before you were born, I would run away from home and go to her house to “live”. Of course it was just over the hill and little did I know she was standing on the porch watching for me to come over the hill and my mom was on our porch watching me climb the hill. I was never out of sight of them. What a team! I also remember the time when I was about 8 that I cut my own hair. I was so proud of myself. Needless to say we made a special trip to see your mom to get it “evened out”. LOL … guess I wasn’t the hairdresser I thought I was. I have lots of memories, but one more that I’ll share … you may remember living in Navy housing … a brick duplex. I can’t remember the name of the place but it was something park. I remember the “bug” truck coming around spraying for mosquitoes every evening. A lot of the kids would follow the truck to get in the cool mist. Your “mean” mom made us come inside … God bless her every day for having the sense to get us out of that poison.
(another dear friend from High School) I remember her sweet voice…..I sure called you enough and she always asked how I was……she was very patient with us because we would chat for some time…..back then, we didn’t have call waiting, only a busy signal….lol….
(a neighbor when I was growing up….one correction to his memory, my mother never had a rattle snake or any other poisonous snake, but she did have non-poisonous snakes) Wendy, I can remember growing up in Rock Bluff and thinking ” That lady must be crazy…she plays with snakes all the time.” She even had a pet rattlesnake! She wasn’t crazy at all as I got to know her better. She was a very kind and interesting person. I think she taught all the kids in the neighborhood how to handle snakes. Before we knew it we all were riding bikes with a snake in hand that we had caught. I thought of her and her snakes just a few days ago and wondered what ever happened to “Mrs. Calloway” but after reading this message i figured out that she passed while I was off at school.
She was a very kind and caring woman and I’m sure you miss her dearly! I’ll always have great memories of growing up in Rock Bluff and she was a big part of that!
(a sweet friend from High School – note when I asked for these memories I included my poem Memories of Mom and Me, this is what he refers to.) There is nothing more that I could say more elegantly than You. Just I Miss and Love Her to . Love You Wendy.
(a friend, but when my mother was alive I was not close to her, her sister and I were good friends, the three of us did some things together, but now I consider her a dear friend.) I remember she always seemed to be moving so fast like maybe she knew time was short. I remember thinking that when you lost her.Reminds me of a lightning bug in the summer. They have a glow that fades when the weather chills but if you have seen one just at the right moment it is never forgotten. I only met her a few times but she seemed to be so dedicated and devoted to you. A moment with a mother like that is a blessing. I am sure she is already cleaning a spot in heaven for all the people she loved.
(from my father) One of the best memory I have is when I med Flippy (my mother’s nickname), I was on the bus returning to Norfolk after a weekend at home. The bus stopped in Greensboro around midnight and I saw her getting on the bus the seat next to me was empty so I pretended to be asleep so she would sit there. Lucky me she did take that seat so not long after that we started talking, I was out of cigarettes so I ask her for one. Needless to say we didn’t sleep a bit on the bus from then to Norfolk. I got her phone number in Norfolk and called her later Monday, From that time on we fell in love and had a beautiful life together.
I’ve printed this poem before, but for those who missed it, or have forgotten, I’m including it again since I mentioned it above. This poem was written within the first few hours after my mother died, and was read at her funeral.
Memories of Mom and Me
-I look around me and all I see,
brings back memories of mom and me.
-The clouds in the sky; for hours we’d look,
picking out colors and shapes and books.
-Oh, look there’s a snap bug – remember him?
a play thing for me and mom again.
-A sea shell reminds me of a walk on the beach;
my diploma, a goal, she believed I could reach.
-Let’s go to a movie – her favorite E. T.
then go to the park and swing with me.
-An ice cream cone, a frog, a snake,
a Thanksgiving dinner we attempted to make.
-All the things around me I see,
bring back memories of mom and me.
-The people who loved her, I see in their eyes,
the love that she gave them was no surprise.
-She had a heart as big as the world
and the soul of a little girl.
-People who knew her will never forget,
because she affected everyone she met.
-Reminders of my mom are easy to see,
for there are parts of her inside of me.