Posted by: bkivey | 12 July 2016

Carolyn Louise Cooper 1937 – 2016

I got a call from the Sanford, NC police department yesterday. My mother lives in Sanford. I knew with a high probability what the call was for. The detective on the phone was kind enough, and it can be no easy thing to call the relatives when a death occurs. A police officer has a hard job, and that’s probably one of the toughest things to do.

The police had been called to her house for a welfare check, and the fire department had to force the door. My mother was found ‘non-responsive’ in the bathroom. She was transported to Central Carolina hospital, and pronounced dead.

This wasn’t unexpected. She was 79 years old, and after a certain age, every day is a gift. She had beaten ovarian cancer some years before, but her health was never the best. My youngest sister lives in North Carolina, and was the unofficial caretaker of my Mom. She called her weekly, and in fact was concerned enough about my Mom’s health that she was going to take her to the hospital today (Tuesday). Apparently my Mom made it on her own.

I’ve never been a ‘good son’. Difficult to raise, not responsive to other’s desires, dismissive of advice; I’m not the poster child for ‘popular guy’. There were years when I wouldn’t talk to my mother. Not because of dislike, but because it wasn’t a priority. You can make excuses; but there are none, really. I knew she was getting up in years, and there were family efforts to get her to move into a retirement facility. But as a child you think circumstances will allow for your parents to take the long goodbye. Not this time.

The last time I saw my Mom was 2013 when I visited for my 50th birthday. My sister was kind enough to treat us to dinner at one of the better steakhouses in Raleigh, and my Mom was pleased to spend time with me on my 50th (‘However did you get so old?’) Given my history; not exactly a rhetoricial question. I hadn’t talked to her for over a year (got the VM on Mother’s Day), but, you know, there’s always the next round of holidays.

So family members will gather in Charleston, SC for a graveside service in the near future. Clients will be inconvenienced and plans disrupted, but so what. It’s my Mom. We didn’t have the best relationship, but right now, everything else can go hang.

The Wake

Not sure what form my Mom’s wake will take, or even if there will be one. Everyone has to come in from different parts of the country; I will have to leave either the day of the funeral or the next. Wakes are the best part of funerals. You have lost someone, but the wake is an opportunity to remember and celebrate the deceased’s life.

My favorite memory of my Mom in recent years was when I visited for her 75th birthday in 2012. We all went to a wine tasting and lunch at a North Carolina winery. After lunch we were all milling about the parking lot when a couple of F-15’s from Pope Air Force base flew across the field at high speed and very low altitude. I remarked to my Mom that even the US Air Force recognized her birthday. She liked that, and brought it up on occasion.

RIP Mom. May you find the peace in the next life you didn’t have in this one.



  1. Blair,
    Sorry to hear of your loss.

  2. Blair–again, sorry to hear of your loss.

    -I empathize, “it is what it is & there’s not a whole lot we can do about it.” (Nobody is asking us to ‘like’ any of this, demands of reality however, dictate we must just accept it.)

    Been on both ends of these situations myself with my parents– once like you, being miles away & once experiencing everything up close & in my face over what felt like forever, but was a fleeting 3 months.
    And, my wife died 3 years ago after a battle with cancer, which felt like a blink of eye but spanned 18 months.

    Each has it’s own upsides & downsides. (and none of them are fun)
    (Personally, I was dx’ed with Parkinson’s 2 years ago, and have all my “arrangement’s” already made. My daughter/son-in-law/g-daughter, live on the East coast & simply have to “make-the-call” should I drop dead.

    On an infinitely more lighter note, appreciate your commentary on PDX area attractions & museums. Making my 1st ever trip west of the Mississippi, to PDX via the Empire Builder Amtrak route this fall, with my 14 year old g-daughter, & hanging with friends in Tigard.
    She gets to take the train from Virginia to Michigan & then we’ll make a quick Ferry ride across Lake Michigan to Milwaukee, then Westward ho…
    –I want to see the B-Reactor at Hanford, (yeah, I’m the ONE) everything else is totally her call.

    Total tangent– you ever go to that pumpkin farm outside of PDX, run by that couple, who are “little people?” –“Rolloff Farms”… something like that.

  3. HI Wayne,

    I appreciate your kind words; especially in light of your own loss. We’re all in Charleston right now: service is 16 July.

    My grandparents passed a few years ago: now a parent. The Reaper swings his scythe ever closer. Not too many years before I’ll see him in the rearview. Like most things adult, things seem to accelerate with age.

    But it’s not all doom and gloom. Because of the timing of the funeral announcement and necessary travel arrangements, I get to spend a couple of days in Charleston. The dead may have passed, but the living carry on, so I’ll use the time to see and do some things in Charleston prior to the funeral. And a chance to connect and reconnect with family.

    In answer to your question about the Rolloff farm: it’s quite well known and at the intersection of River and Farmington roads in what is (still) a rural part of the county. There’s a diner (the Cruze-In) at the intersection that’s popular with classic car and motorcycle enthusiasts.

  4. Blair–

    Everyone has a story to tell of Loss, we all get a chance at bat on that one.

    My G-daughter thanks you for info on the Rollof farm. She’s tasked with finding interesting stuff in the PDX area for us to check out.

    Total tangent– is the picture on your masthead, Mount Hood, Mount St Helens, or neither? excuse my tagentiality–I just stumbled across a YouTube file of the original PBS version of The Lathe of Heaven, which I haven’t seen since it originally aired. Ursala LeGuin, if I’m spelling that correctly. Fantastic Tale, great book, good movie, bad remake. (wherein Mt Hood is featured prominently.)

    Take care, be safe on the return trip.

  5. HI Wayne,

    The mountain for this season of the blog is Mt. Adams, also visible from Portland. Hood has a shoulder on its left side, while St. Helens is missing a few hundred feet from its former summit. Adams is one of the five volcanoes visible from Portland. Mt. Jefferson is visible on a clear day to the southeast, and Rainier is visible on a really clear day to the north just to the east of St. Helens.

  6. Blair– thanks.
    I’ve been to the Appalachian mountains but I live in Michigan, and we have nothing like your “Pacific Northwest Volcanic Range” here.
    In comparison, we’re as flat as Indiana or Iowa. We have “gently rolling hills.”

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