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.
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.