Well it has been a year since we gathered in Washington to celebrate the life of mom. I am still overwhelmed more by the amount of people and stories that were shared than anything else. My friend David Frank was there taking a few pictures. As he said…”These aren’t as high style as I normally do. I have never done a memorial service and didn’t want to use the flash to be a distraction.”
I think they are a great reminder! Thanks Dave. Check them out on his site.
February 28, 2012 was probably the worst day of my life. But before you can fully comprehend the immense sadness of February 28, 2012, you must first understand the events of February 27, 2012.
On one late winter day I was walking home from the bus. Once I was home, I walked in the door and the house was silent. This was not normal, so I went into the living room in order to investigate and I saw my mom on the floor hastily folding clothes. Beside her was my dad on the phone he looked as though he had been crying, which was definitely abnormal. He motioned for my brother Elliot and I to sit down on the couch, but he did not say a word listening intently to whoever he was speaking with on the phone. I sat down on the couch confused and slightly terrified. Then my mom looked up from the laundry, and her face spoke a thousand words. At that specific moment, I knew that whatever they were about to share with us was going to be devastating.
My dad was soon done with his phone call and my mom stopped folding clothes momentarily. We all had an awkward moment of silence before my dad began crying again and then he swore under his breath. Elliot and I shared a glance, as if to say neither of us had ever seen either of these events happen before.
“Joseph (my father) would you like for me to tell them?” asked my mom.
My dad nodded unable to speak tears running down his face.
“Gramma Pie is not doing well. Grammpa found her this morning knocked out on the floor in the hall of their house. She went in an ambulance to the hospital, the doctors said she had a brain aneurysm,” explained my mother.
This shocked me to the core because my gramma was doing just fine only a week earlier when I had skyped her.
As tears streamed down her face my mother continued, “The doctors said that since she has not woken up from her coma yet she will most likely only have a few more days to live.”
“The best way for us to go and to see her is to drive there (to Seattle, Washington) ” inserted my father.
I felt like my whole world was spinning before me. I did not know what to think so I did not think instead I only wept.
“We should try to leave here in an hour or so,” my father told us. “You guys are going to want to pack about a week’s worth of clothes, some stuff to do in the car,” then he paused and hesitantly said “and a nicer outfit.
At first I was confused and I wanted to question bringing a nicer outfit for a week of loafing around my grandparent’s house. Then like a light bulb going off in my head it hit me the reason my parents reason for insisting on us packing a nicer outfit was because they were already thinking ahead to the funeral.
At that moment it was like we all were dismissed to pack and change into road trip clothing. So I first found a bag to and then I proceeded to stuff a lot of random junk in that bag. Of course looking back I would packed a little differently, looking back I would have slowed down slightly in order to actually fold some of my clothes, while I was packing them instead of having a wrinkled mess upon arrival. I also would have maybe counted how many pairs of socks I packed (I had a total of ten pairs), and then may be compared that amount to my only two extra shirts. I also might have thought ahead to have brought more than just the shoes I was wearing (Nike tennis shoes.) At least I was smart enough to bring some stuff to do in the car including: Mp3 Player, Sudoku, my laptop, and the two different books I had gotten from the library the day before.
About an hour later we all five of us piled in the 2001 Ford Windstar and we started driving away. Then to make my current mood go from bad to worse I looked up at to GPS on the window and it read 1561 miles and 36 estimated hours to go.
My father then revealed “Guys we will probably drive this straight through so get comfortable.”
Then I tried to do some Sudoku but I eventually just cried myself into a restless sleep. I woke up early the next morning and I looked out the front window and saw a road that went on forever!! Then I looked at the speedometer and like normal my father was going about 20 MPH faster than the speed limit. Then I looked at the GPS and saw that we still had 843 miles to go and I knew that this was going to be a long day.
This was February 28, 2012 I slept, cried, and watched movies off and on all day but nothing was going to make me happy. We arrived in Seattle, Washington a total of 28 hours after we left Rhinelander, Wisconsin. Once we were in Seattle we did not go take showers or anything we went straight to the hospital. All thirteen (including some extended family) of us went in to see my Gramma who was still in a coma, at this point we knew that she was not going to come out of her current coma. As a family we talked to her some, cried some, and then we sang to her. After we left the room she died. Then all thirteen of us spent the remainder of the week in my grandparent’s house (which is like 1200 square feet.) At end of the week we all faced the ever dreaded funeral, I sobbed during the entire thing.
From this experience I learned that I should never take life for granted. I learned that tomorrow is always a gift, and that today should always be lived to the fullest.
A year ago we had two different memorial services for my mother. One was in Washington and the other in Minnesota. Over 1200 people took part in these services and many shared great stories. Some stories were only a few days old and others were over 60 years in the past.
Consistent themes developed from all of them to give a clear picture of who Eileen was. Many have continued to share stories of her unique life and how she intersected with yours. The beauty of gathering with two different groups over that week from two distinct parts of her life was to see the contrast in my mom’s life.
Those from WA didn’t have a lot of the history and hardships that she endured. Those from MN at times seemed like they were in a time warp and didn’t know about all the recent adventures she was experiencing. Some knew her as Pie and others only Eileen.
The reality is that her past always gave a firm foundation for her present moments to grow on. And in many things mom changed and evolved into who she was when she left. The core was the same in most situations but how she acted out her inner-self was always a surprise for all of us.
For instance she got a convertible for her 60th birthday. She never spent unnecessary money on such frivolous things. Who would have thought the lady that once drove a Chevrolet K-Car until it wouldn’t move would be riding with a top down?
She also got into motorcycles and the biker world. With great passion she spoke of her new friends. My second chapter of my book, Ride On, is about that change in her life. I have attached a copy of that chapter if you wanted to take a look. ChapterTwo_Ride On
Ride On Mom!
I found myself cleaning up my mothers Facebook today as we are trying to make it more of a memorial page.
Deleting all the game and events invites. (Side Note: Please stop spamming people with your invites that are not relevant to them or not living anywhere near your event. You are ruining the effectiveness of those Facebook features. End Note.) I was going through my mom’s liked pages and groups she was involved in and I decided to unlike those pages and groups.
The problem came when I thought I had done the work of unliking pages and realized I had just gotten through the ones that she liked in the few months she was alive in 2012. This was going to be a chore to complete because as I went to 2011 there were almost a 100 things she likes. 2010, 2009, 2008 were no different. I began to massage my fingers and got to work making the several clicks needed for each group.
Then the thought hit me somewhere at the end of 2011 that these people are going to be one “like” down. They might think that people hate them. The diligent person that keeps track of their “likes” will think that they offended someone. Because I manage several pages I know what you can go through seeing the number go down.
The other thing that hit me was that my mother liked everyone. She gave anyone or thing the thumbs up. Granted the thumbs up is no big deal but to my mom and those she gave it too it meant everything. She loved everyone and everyone was welcome to come into her house (or in this instance her facebook page). No matter if you were gospel music singer, outdoor gardener, or a mystery writer. If you were a big business like Target or a small shop in Stanwood. Maybe you were changing the world or just trying to make a change in your neighborhood.
She gave you the thumbs up! And if she was still with us she would give you another thumbs up and say, “Well done. Keep it up honey. Come over here so we can talk about you.” I want to live that type of like that is affirming the good in everyone! (Except if you were an extreme liberal politician. She had always hard time understanding them but think she probable sees everyone a bit different now.)
Now if you could stop by four of the four hundred of her likes and give them the thumbs up that would make me feel better. Maybe they won’t notice they were one down.
We had a special family Root Beer Night in honor of my mother, Eileen. Just like other nights we cracked open a bottle we didn’t do anything super special. With a simple toast to the continued memory of Mom and Grandma we sat back and drank Stewart’s Fountain Classic. A smooth old school Root Beer with not much aftertaste.
The specialness of this night was that mom always supported my crazy made up holidays or special routines at gatherings (Taco Palm Sunday, Stretch your Stomach Sunday, MeatLovers Fest, or reading the Thanksgiving Newspapers and many other quirks of my life). Mom always loved a good time and especial loved the yearly routines and of my events. As long as family, friends, and some food were assembled she was all for it!
Ideas like Root Beer night,She would have loved to gather and crack one open.
Keep checking every day this week to see posts that honor my Mom…
This picture her of her fishing for crab is a great photo representing her love for adventure and trying new things. I shows the same for my father also as he hated putting his small fishing boat in salt water. But they would make the trek out and bring in loads.
Then we would all gather around the picnic table outside their home and prepare ourselves for a full-blown crab feast with all the fixens and add-on. When it was ready she would dump the cooked catch out and say dig in! Then sit down and partake in the bounty with the whole family.
Let’s all live our life to the fullest. Let’s not be limited by having too small a boat or any other circumstances that we might encounter. Reach in and grab that snapping crab in your life and say…man you are going to taste good cooked up!