You may have noticed for the last two and a half years I've written about Bellingham where Mom lived.
Mom became paralyzed and needed 24-hour care. Thanks to caregivers like Bonita, I could go home to my float cabin once a month. Caring for Mom at home wasn't easy, but the right thing. She stayed in familiar surroundings with the ones she loved.
Last week Mom passed in her own home, in her own bed. While I miss her terribly, I can't think of a better way to leave this stage of life and begin the next.
Mom loved a party (with her pretties), so we've chosen to celebrate her life by remembering the good times. I'd like to share some with you.
Mom was born in 1916 and just celebrated her 97th birthday. She was proud of her natural brown hair (flecked with gray), and her own strong teeth. She said she had strong genes, but getting old wasn't for the weak. She was always a trooper, never gave up, and always had a positive attitude. She worried more about others than herself.
Mom grew up in Compton, California, when it was farm land, not a suburb of Los Angeles. She wished she had a nickel for every ear of corn she packed on her father's truck farm. She went to Compton High/Community College (when it was one campus), and UCLA to become a teacher. It was at Compton CC that she met my dad, Art Leeming. Mom made him wait for marriage because she wanted to teach. In those days teaching jobs were reserved for family bread winners. They finally married before Dad's military service in WWII.
I came along in 1949, an only child spoiled by both parents. But I learned about caring for families when my grandparents came to live with us. Then it was time to take care of her brother Bill.
Mom and Dad retired from education and enjoyed travel, cooking, gardening, jewelry and furniture making. They always worked and played together as a team. Daddy passed early with cancer. Mom met and married Jack Agnew later in life. Both had lost their spouses and shared a special kind of love and companionship. And I got two sisters and a brother that I'd never had.
After Jack passed, Mom moved to Bellingham to be near Wayne and me. It was the closest city with good senior services to the Canadian border and our new home in Powell River, BC, where Mom enjoyed vacations with us at our cabin and condo in town. And wherever she went, her beloved Kitty Cat followed behind.
At first Mom lived alone, then I stayed with her. Wayne was a huge help, taking care of things in Powell River and coming to be with me as much as he could. After a few months of recovery after back surgery in 2010, Mom was back in good health and able to travel, but now in a wheelchair. In Powell River we arranged for caregivers to stay with Mom overnight to let Wayne and me enjoy cabin life. And I know Mom enjoyed the change of scenery even though she could no longer go with us up the lake.
These last six months Mom's health didn't allow us to travel any more, but her spirits were good and she enjoyed dinner visits next door to our good friend Jeanne's. A glass of red wine before dinner was her favorite. Chin-chin, Mom. After a good meal, there was plenty of time for the Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy.
It was only in the last two weeks that Mom's health really declined. We knew we didn't want any more hospital visits, so were getting ready to start Hospice, but there wasn't time for that. In a way, we created our own hospice-like environment.
Mom was a wonderful woman, a strong woman, even though she didn't see herself that way. She loved us with her big heart and generous ways. Kitty Cat misses her too. He looks for her in all the usual places, her living room recliner and the bed where they slept together each night.
You were the best Mom in the world. I love you and miss you. I'm so glad those were the last words I said and you heard. Mom is on her way to be reunited with Daddy in California for her final rest here on earth. Good-bye for now, Mom.
Lots of Love (she always said that at the end of a phone call),
Margy, Wayne, and Jeanne