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A Shocking Day

Today is the third anniversary of my Mom’s entrance into heaven. That’s how I word it when I dedicate flowers to her at church to commemorate her life and death.  September 14, 2006. I can’t believe it has been three years since that shocking moment.

Why was it shocking? Well, even though Mom had a lot of medical issues including two aneurysms on her aorta, we just didn’t expect it. As I said in yesterday’s post, I was on the phone with her when she died except I didn’t know that she had died. We didn’t find that out until later.

She died on Thursday evening at about 5:15 pm. Her sister, Anna, tried calling her that evening. No answer. My sister, Amy, tried calling her all day Friday. No answer. Now this wasn’t entirely unusual. Mom would go off and do her laundry or go and visit friends and since she didn’t want an answering machine or caller ID, unless she was in her apartment and awake, she didn’t answer the phone.

By Saturday morning, Amy was really concerned. She tried calling her again and no answer. Mom should have been up, drinking her coffee, smoking a cigarette, and watching the morning news. Amy loaded up her daughters in the car and went to check on her. Luckily she had the thought to have the girls wait in the hall while she went into Mom’s apartment. Good thing because she found Mom on the floor by the table. Needless to say, absolutely shocking.

Amy tried calling me. I wasn’t home. So she called our brother, Ted, and told him that she had found Mom and she was dead. Not sure of the exact words she used but that was the gist of it. Ted remembered that I had said I was going to be down at church that morning so he called me there.

I happened to answer the phone in the kitchen at church. I hear Ted said, “Hey, it’s me”. My brain is trying to process that Ted is calling me at church when he said “Amy called”. So my brain, still processing the other information tries to also process that Amy called Ted on a Saturday morning, which was unusual. Then he said “Mom had a stroke”. My brain isn’t even there yet. What?? You’re on the phone and Amy called you? Then he said, “and she’s passed on”. What he said all together was: “Hey, it’s me. Amy called. Mom had a stroke and she’s passed on”. But I heard it all stretched out and long and it felt like I was in some kind of time warp. Needless to say, absolutely shocking.

I had never really been in that kind of shock before. It was like I was moving through water and my brain wasn’t processing information anymore. I sat down and eventually got the words out to a friend what had happened. Immediately, I was surrounded by women who wanted to comfort me. I’m so glad I was there and not at home by myself. They hugged me and cared for me which helped to ease the shock I was experiencing.

I eventually managed to drive myself home (someone offered to drive me but I said I would be fine driving home – should have let them drive me home – longest drive of my life). I called my sister and we tried to figure out what had happened. I offered to make calls for her and she gave me a bunch of the relative’s phone numbers.

My first call was to Aunt Anna. Note: when calling someone to break bad news there is a protocol to follow. You should say, after the initial greeting: “I have some sad news to tell you. You might want to sit down”. Did I say that? No. I said “Aunt Anna, Mom is dead!!”. Needless to say, ABSOLUTELY SHOCKING! I think I almost gave her a heart attack. After I apologized profusely for that, we talked about Mom and how she was at peace now. And Aunt Anna did accept my apology and she didn’t drop over from the shock. Thank goodness!

After, Aunt Anna was my younger brother, Dave. He lived in California at the time so I wanted to wait for him to wake up. I did a little better telling him but it was still terrible.

All in all, the whole experience was awful. Shocking, mind numbing, and sad. It was a long time before I actually got used to the idea that Mom was dead. A very long time. Even now, on Sunday afternoons, I will think to myself “I ought to give Mom a call.” Then realize that I can’t and feel sad all over again.

Mom and I didn’t have the best relationship in the world. I always hoped it would be better. A friend told me once that might be why I feel myself missing her more than I miss my dad. I miss the hope I once had for that better mother/daughter relationship.

Three years have passed. The shock has faded and the grief has eased. But I will never forget that shocking day. I guess it’s time to light a cigarette in her memory. Miss you, Mom!

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