Saturday, May 04, 2013

Good-bye Mom, I Love You!

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.

Louise Leeming Agnew
Beloved Wife and Mother

Lots of Love (she always said that at the end of a phone call),
Margy, Wayne, and Jeanne


  1. My condolences, Margy. Sounds like she was quite a woman...making a man wait for HER to have her turn in a career. She would have been ahead of her time doing that! Sounds like she had a good life and you have great and loving memories of her. May she rest in peace. Hugs...

  2. Sweetie, what a wonderful tribute to your Mom. You've given a wonderful picture of her life. Blessings to you because you were certainly one for her.

  3. This is heartwarming, Margy. I have enjoyed your posts about your challenges with your mom.
    You have balanced life with caregiving, which I didn't really do.
    You are a beautiful person. Your mother taught you well.
    My deepest condolences.

  4. Oh Margy, I'm so sorry to hear about the passing of your Mom. Your tribute to her was wonderful. She will live on in your heart forever.

  5. My condolences, Margy. This was a wonderful celebration of her life. And I love the pictures, especially the last, smiling with Kitty Cat warming her knees.

    You will miss her, I know.

  6. So sorry... The loss of a parent is always hard, no matter how old you are.

  7. Leslie - Yes, she was quite a woman. Quiet in her own way, but very strong and determined at the same time. A good role model for a girl growing up in the 50s and 60s.

    Elaine - Thanks for the kind words. I tried to be there for her, but at times I think I could have done better. I am just glad we could spend so much time together at the end.

    Jennifer - I learned a lot from your book as I was just starting into the process with Mom. You helped me lots along the way.

    Linda - Thanks. Yes, she will be in my heart and mind right along side Daddy.

    Wendy - You are right, it's hard even though you know the time isn't far away. When that moment comes you aren't as prepared as you think you are.

    Thanks everyone for your kind thoughts and prayers. Wayne and I are enjoying some time in Mom's place in Bellingham before we head back to Powell River with Kitty Cat along for the ride. I am sure the adventure of Mr. Cat will continue for some time to come.


  8. This is a lovely tribute to someone who was obviously an amazing woman. I hope that your treasured memories make thing a little easier during these tough times, my thoughts are with you and your family xxx

  9. Margy, I am so sorry for your loss. You have written a beautiful tribute and memorial to her, and I know putting your thoughts into words has to have helped you process your grief. I'm so happy that you were there to help care for her and share your thoughts with her as she transitioned, I am positive that made everything much easier for her.

    I feel your loss and know how difficult it is. My thoughts are with you and your family. May your memories continue to bring you peace, and may the light that she was continue to shine through you.

    Many hugs and my sincerest condolences, Lise

  10. A beautiful tribute to your mom, Margy. Sending you my deepest sympathies and thank you for sharing about your mom. ((((Hugs))))

  11. Beautiful, Margy, beautiful. I should have come up to visit when you were in Bellingham---see we should have. You wrote beautiful words about your Mother---similar to my Mother. My Mother left us not that long ago at age 95. Strong energetic smiling to the end. I am so glad your Mom was able to stay in her own home with her wonderful daughter and family helping out.
    Bless you, Margy!!!

  12. Sorry for your loss. We survivors are never ready for our parents' passing, no matter how old they (and we) are.

  13. Thinking of you at this difficult time. Your mother was indeed exceptional - and your wonderful care kept her with you as long as was possible. A very touching tribute - thank you for sharing.

  14. My deepest condolences. You are a wonderful daughter, and you cannot have any regrets.
    I can tell how much you loved one another.

  15. I never got to say how sorry I was for you when your Mom passed away as I was at my Mom's and not reading blogs those days. May she rest in peace.

  16. I only now had a bit of time to read your blog and got to this post. I'm so sorry about your mom, she was a very nice lady and I'm glad I met her. Hugs to you and Wayne.