We recently found a great donut store near our home. One Sunday morning a few weeks ago, I drove Sam to this store and we brought home some donuts to enjoy with our new little family. The donuts lasted into the week, and one morning I brought one to work and enjoyed it about mid-morning with a cup of coffee. In an instant, it took me back to childhood and Saturday nights. My mom used to make homemade donuts on Saturday evenings. They were for our family to enjoy Sunday mornings before church, but my dad and I would routinely steal a few on Saturday night and eat them with a cup of coffee while watching the original home improvement show “This Old House”. I can’t imagine how a 5 year old can enjoy coffee, but I did. I liked to dunk the donut in the coffee and then eat it. Every time I taste that combined flavor of donuts and coffee, it takes me back to that memory.
Today is the 26th anniversary of her passing. I was eight years old, in 3rd grade. It was a shock. A non-smoker with lung cancer. I remember she had ear aches over the summer, then eventually went to a doctor in September, just after school started. She was diagnosed at a local hospital and then came home for a weekend. We took a few photos that weekend, otherwise I might not remember it all these years later. But I remember reading a book to my mom, some patriotic book that had to be summarized in a book report due that Monday. That was the last weekend she was home. On Monday, she went to St. Louis and spent her remaining weeks in the Intensive Care Unit at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center. My dad visited her most every evening after work. My 3 sisters and I visited as much as possible, probably 3 or 4 times a week. There wasn’t much we could do during our visits. She was hooked up to all sorts of machines, with breathing and feeding tubes preventing her from talking to us. We would write short notes to her on pieces of scrap paper. I remember taking a warm, damp washcloth and washing her feet. What pain she must have felt as a mother, seeing the 4 of us there and undoubtedly knowing that she wouldn’t see us grow up. Early on the morning of November 30, 1982, I remember hearing the phone ring and running into the darkness of my parents’ bedroom. My dad was up and getting dressed, telling me to go back to sleep. Later that day when we arrived home on the school bus, our pastor ‘Brother Ed’ was waiting in our family room with my dad. He told us the sad news and my sisters cried. I remember not knowing how to react, just feeling numb. The funeral was a few days later, our home church packed with family and friends. At one point during the funeral, I looked up to my dad and saw a tear roll down his face. It’s one of the rare times in my life I’ve seen him cry.
Our family doesn’t talk much about my mom. It’s painful to talk about. When we have talked, I’m often surprised how they remember things that I don’t. I’m hoping my sisters and other family who read the blog might be inspired to type a few comments with their memories. Or if you've lost someone close to you, feel free to share some memories of them too.
We miss you Mom. You’d be proud of us – and your grandkids. I can’t wait for you to meet them someday.
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