“We have happy memories of the godly,” Proverbs 10:7 NLT
Perhaps because of her chronic illness or my attachment to her, I’ve dreaded Mom’s passing my whole adult life. When I was twelve, she shared with my brothers and me that she had multiple sclerosis. In spite of her diagnosis, Mom did extremely well health-wise and had a full and rewarding teaching career, taking disability retirement from public education in 1993. Even after Dad passed away in 2007 from cancer, Mom still enjoyed much independence and mobility. But after my brother Doug’s tragic brain injury and subsequent death in 2012, Mom’s health declined dramatically. She moved between hospital, rehab, and home for several years. Failing to regain strength after her final stint in rehab in 2016, Mom remained in bed much of the time, unable to transfer on her own to her power chair. It was very difficult to see her health decline and dementia steal her clear thinking. Mom, however, almost always had a positive attitude.
Though my husband and I lobbied for her to come live near us, she wanted to stay in Florida with my brother, John. Though it was hard to not see her often, she frequently told us how happy she was under John’s care and what a great job he was doing. Though sad for us, we’re grateful she was happy! She received excellent home nursing care and had other great caregivers. Praise God, I’m thankful Mom always remembered who Evan and I were when we visited and called!
I saw Mom’s body at the funeral home before her funeral service – she looked great – though she’d changed quite a bit from the last time we visited. But that’s not how I’ll remember her. A memory of Mom from my childhood stands out crystal clear. It’s Mom as the beautiful, laughing, long-haired brunette at the Glen Burnie Park (MD) public swimming pool, who laughed and played in the water as my family taught me how to dive. I was holding her big comb under my chin to keep my head down, as she smiled and cheered me on. I picture her like that now, in heaven, so young, whole, and free. She was my biggest cheerleader growing up, and I picture her in heaven, still cheering me on.
A treasure I brought home from Florida was Dad’s slides. His collection spanned from their dating years, including the young 20 year-old on dates with Dad, the college graduate, the new teacher, the glowing bride, to the young mother of three. It's a bit surreal to see my Mom (then Dad's girlfriend or fiancé) through the eyes of my 25-year old father! My parents both grew up in the town of Dunkirk, NY. The photos below were taken in that general area. I hope you enjoy them. (To be continued…)
"Trip to Allegheny (NY), Picnic with Maggie (Dad's nickname for Mom)", Summer 1959 (age 20)
What a feast!
Young love (Mom age 20, Dad age 25)
Check out the old cars in the background!
"First Christmas with Maggie", 1959, age 20
These were probably taken at my Dad's parents' home, Dunkirk, NY
Mom would turn 21 a few weeks after Christmas 1959
Prom (Fredonia State Teachers College), Spring 1960, age 21
Graduation Day beauty, Fredonia State Teachers College, Spring 1960
"Day at Beach, Point Gratiot," Dunkirk, NY, summer 1960, in my Dad's '57 (?) Alpha Romeo