Annie, my only mom…I will miss you.

Today is August 9th and it is just now that I feel ready to blog again.  It’s been a long, hot summer.  Preceding this sweltering couple of months I suffered a sadness I had not felt for almost 30 years.  I watched for six long weeks-with unwavering hope- that my mom would recover from an extensive open heart surgery she had on April 3rd.   She lingered in the hospital, suffering from kidney failure, breathing problems and a heart that just wouldn’t heal.   On May 21, 2012, my mom gave up her fight and passed away.

My mom and her husband John, my step dad. This was taken in December, her last Christmas.

I impulsively took this photo of my mom just before they took her into heart surgery. It is the last photo of her able to sit up and fairly normal. She never recovered and was unable to sit up or walk again.

We prayed and prayed.  We had a few glimmers of hope, but it was not to be.   It was very sad.  It was very spiritual.  It was emotionally and physically grueling for us to watch.  By the end of April, I felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown from the stress and despair I was  feeling.  I had never felt so on the brink of losing my mind.   Eventually I worked it out and cried a lot and did whatever I could do to work through the harsh reality that my mom was dying.  I took photos.  I decided that I wanted to document my mom’s journey for my own memory.

If you are a reader of my blog you may have seen the tribute I wrote about my mom a few years back for Mother’s Day.  I’m so glad she got to see this.  I had many chances to tie up loose ends with her, talk about things and tell her what I wanted her to know in the event she did not make it through the surgery.  A few weeks before my mom had her surgery, she was in the hospital and I came to see her and it was just the two of us.  I came in the  evening  and I ended up staying after visiting hours till 10:30pm.  We had such a close, tender conversation.  We shared tears and love and it  made my heart happy to have had this moment in time to keep forever with her while she was sitting up and able to still get around.

My mom told me she had to take a chance at the heart surgery because without it, she wouldn’t last too long because her heart was inevitably going to stop working. This was her only chance and she had to risk it.  She suffered from aortic stenosis that was so progressed, she would get winded just walking across the room.  Her life had come to a complete standstill.  She was a shadow of her former self and she hated it.  Prior to her illness, she was a firecracker of a lady-spunky,  energetic, and sassy.  She was a career waitress, and worked hard her whole life.  She and my dad, a blue collar factory worker, had pooled their resources their entire lives to have the little house of ours on Kilbourn-a little cracker box of a home on a Chicago city lot, but it was a house of love, and it was good, and I am so grateful I had it and these people in my life to love me.

It is now two and a half months since I buried my mom and I have had my moments of sadness.  They come in waves and because menopause is beginning to wind it’s roots  in my soul, the grief comes on stronger and at times without warning.  Writing helps.  I want to push through this sadness and carry on.  I have so many good memories and so much more to tell you all.  You see, Annie was the only mother I ever knew.  I had another mother-the woman who gave birth to me.  I found out when I was 37 years old I was adopted.  Quite a shock, it was.  But that just makes my love for my mom that much more.  Even though, from the very beginning, I worked my way into her heart, she loved me as if she had carried me under her heart.   And for that, I will love her always.

My three sons carry their grandma’s casket. She would be so proud of them for doing that for her.

The day before my mom died, the nurse told me that she was calling out to her parents.  She referred to them as, “Momma & Daddy”.  She was from the South and had called them that until they died.  I know my grandparents were in her hospital room waiting for her so they could walk with her when she passed.  I was so thrilled to hear this-to know they were there for her and she wasn’t alone.  I know she missed them so much.  Now they are together once again.  And, after learning my mom had seen her parents… for the first time in a long time, I had a renewed sense of hope.

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28 thoughts on “Annie, my only mom…I will miss you.

  1. Oh, Emily, I am so truly sorry for your great loss. I lost my Dad unexpectedly two months ago today. The grief is overwhelming at times. If you ever need or want to talk, I am here. Sending big, big hugs and much love.

    • Thank you Kelly…I saw the posts on Facebook when your dear father died…I KNOW how gut wrenching the grief can be. I adored my dad and lost him when I was 19….and I’m so sad for you, too…thanks for your kind words…I am here for you, too if you ever need to write.

      Em

  2. Emily
    Beautiful tribute to your Mom. I lost my Mom and know how you feel. Please accept my sincere condolences.
    Ellen Donnelly

  3. What a beautiful tribute. Have u read”Chicken Soup for Mothers”? or Chicken Soup for Mother’s and Daughters? I’m reading them now. They are fantastic! You would enjoy the stories. My mom was only 78 when she died in 1999 of a stroke. I have vivid memories of when she died. She was in a coma for 8 days. The nurses called me on the eighth day and urged me, not Larry or Donn(my siblings) to come visit her. I came with Wayne very shortly after the nurse called me. We entered her room and I talked to my mom and held her hand. Asked God to finally take her. She opened her big blue beautiful eyes for a brief moment to see me. I turned to talk to the nurse, after she was given the Last Rights. Turned again and she was gone. The sisters at the hospital said she was waiting for me to come b/f she would die. I feel very blessed that she chose me to come , instead of my siblings.

    Will share more about my mom, whenever I get a chance to see u.

    I’ll keep your mom in my prayers!

  4. Emily thank you for sharing this love story about you and your Mom. I too have been spending this past year watching my Mom, Dorothy, go in & out of the hospital for blood transfusions, iron infusions and SO many tests. She’s has congestive heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver with a bleeding AVM which makes her severally anemic, has stenosis of the spine, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, so she’s in so much pain all the time. I too have watched her go from being strong & independent to barely being able to walk. She seldom leaves the house these days except to go to the doctor. You nailed it right on the head by stating they become a shadow of who they once were. I think this has been the most painful to watch. I cry often because I know that time will soon be moving on. Through it all though, as painful as this has been at times, I am cherishing this journey with my Mom.

    Your Mom is so proud of you! I wish you continued peace.

    Lori

  5. This is an incredible tribute to your Mom. I am wiping my eyes with my morning coffee, in hand. She seems like she was “quite” a woman. I hope the following months bring you peace. Time heals. I am a believer in this. I have not experienced this loss (as of yet), but I have experienced loss in other ways. Time gives us time. Time we need to accept these unfortunate events. Thank you for sharing such a personal time with all of us. I will keep you in my thoughts.
    Kristine xx

  6. Em,

    Thank your for writing and sharing with us such a beautiful blog honoring your mother. I too am sad that she passed on, but happy that in her final days, the two of you had some wonderful moments you will remember forever. The pictures are beautiful keepsakes.

    You were truly loved by both of your parents, just like you are by your family and friends.

    Love you, Laura

  7. “Note to self…do not read this at work.”
    Emily, I am so sorry about your mother. Although I did not know her, losing a mother is so life changing. I almost lost my mom after heart surgery last year and thought “this cannot be it…I need more time.”
    Funny how life is. You want your mom to keep the distance and stay out of your business and then coming to the point of losing them you need more. More time, more hugs, more stories, more of their smile or off the cuff comments, more of their smell….the list goes on and on. We live so long and yet as we get older it seems so very short.
    I am so glad you had time to just sit and “be” with her.
    Oh, and you should write a book. I can be your agent. I’ll get you on Oprah. Maybe your stories will inspire her to come back to regular TV.
    Thanks again for sharing your story!

    XXOO

  8. Emily, thank you for sharing your story. You have so touched my heart. I lost my brother over a year ago and there are days I just break down and sob. I miss him so very much. We became so close in the 20 years I helped take care of him. Now I’m watching my folks on the downward slide especially my mother. I just pray and take one day at a time. You have many wonderful memories of your mom and that is such a blessing.

  9. Emily, I’m so sory to read that your mom passed away. I didn’t know untill I got your email today. We were in Israel in May and June. My condolences for your loss. I hope to see you soon. Call me when you are ready. Huges from me to you, Larry and the kids.
    Mika

  10. Oh Emily…I can feel the love you had for your mom. How lucky you were to have her and her to have you. What a beautiful tribute. Loosing your mom is life changing. I lost mine 4 years ago but she is in my thoughts everyday. You ceased those last few weeks of her life and spent precious time with her.. What a wonderful thing to remember and cherish. The loss will be with you always, but so will the love and memories. Take care, Em. Love, Mary

  11. Well done Em. Those are some precious moments you captured in those photos. You touched my heart with those and I’m glad to hear your helping to ease your pain in this way because its easy to see and feel the depth of your love for your mom. Jeff

  12. Tears as I write this, lost my own mom five years ago, and life has never been the same. Your mother passed away from you on the day my mom would have been 75 years old. God bless you with his amazing love as you go through these days.

    • Hi Natalie….it’s nice to meet you! I’m so sorry you are suffering from the loss of your mother. It’s so sad. I appreciate you visiting my blog and I hope you will return on a happier note. I enjoyed your video of your surprise video to your sister. I would love to surprise someone like that!

      Emily

  13. I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a parent is always hard. I pray that Jesus will take the place of the loss that you feel for your Mother.
    Blessings

  14. All I can say is that I experienced the same with both of my parents. I do remember holding their hands at the end. The picture of that memory is in my head. The fact that she called her parents really did mean they were in that room and were there waiting for her. My father was saying that my mother was in his room many times. I know in my heart that she was waiting for him as well. The fact that they are together is the only way I can deal with my fathers death. I cried for 30 days straight and still do. It has been over a year. She is with you. She is watching over you.

    • Thank you Luanne…your last two sentences brought tears to my eyes….I’m so comforted believing that. I am so sad for you. I know that pain is just gut wrenching….I hope time heals your pain, but I hope you always remember your folks. Stay strong. 🙂

  15. Emily, this is a beautiful piece and the tears came quickly while I read. I just returned from Buffalo, where we had a memorial service for my mom, who passed, as you know, the day after yours. She’s resting next to my Dad now. Maybe our moms and dads will meet up and become friends too, who knows?! I’m glad you’re back to writing and that it is giving you some sort of peace and closure. My thoughts are with you. Love and hugs from your friend, Catherine

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