That was the end of a long, generous, loving life. She was 96 years old and could never understand how she outlived so many in her family. I am sure it was because she had not crossed paths with those who needed to know her.
She taught a whole Girl Scout Troop the meaning of service. She taught them how to live a generous life and she taught them skills most women do not know, like how to dig a latrine, set up a tent and cook over an open campfire. She ventured into the wilderness with a group of teenage girls to live without running water, electricity, or comfort. She wanted them to know how to take care of themselves and that they had worth and grit , they were not precious flowers to be pampered, but women who were strong and capable.
She taught those that knew her how to be strong. When to fight, when to compromise and to never ignore what they knew was the right thing to do, justice was important to her. Being kind to others and giving freely of her time to those in need, was part of her being.
She was always up for a new adventure. Although she loved to cook, be a grandma and tend to everyone, she was always ready to experience new things and learn new things.
I would drag her along with me to every new adventure, every new and exciting escapade. She traveled with me all over the country. Our last big trip was called the Spend the Inheritance Tour 2014, when she was 91 years old. I packed up the portable shower chair, the transport wheelchair and off we went to explore where she had never been. You can see those wonderful trips at spendtheinheritancetour2014.blogspot.com where we toured NYC, went to see Alladin on Broadway, went on to Maine to eat lobster and see Acadia National Park, then on to Moosehead Lake Maine to ride in a jeep over logging roads bouncing along to find moose. Then on to Vermont to visit Ben and Jerry’s , the cider mill, and leaf watching. It was her favorite part of the trip. She never complained as we hoisted her onto the train, buckled her into the little jeep, sat her on a stool to put her face in a cow cut out, and made thousands of miles, visiting far and wide.
She moved into our home in 2013 and she was always part of everything we did, we kept her on the move. When Rod was diagnosed with FTD in 2015, she went to the day program with him, I called them “the twins”. We continued to have adventures. Everyone knew if they invited us, it meant Mom, too. She went camping with us in the travel trailer, went out to dinner with us, and was just part of us, always.
She was willing to try anything. She trusted that we would not let her get hurt. We bought her chocolate shakes and burgers (her favorite) and I cooked all the meals she taught me to make. She loved scalloped potatoes, when she was cutting back on her eating, I could always get her to eat 2 helpings of scalloped potatoes.
We made her feel useful by making laundry folding her job. I always said no one gets a free ride, and she gladly contributed.
We laughed…. A LOT!!! Rod was a constant source of laughter for her, she thought he was hilarious. He made her waffles every Sunday. He watched over her like a mother hen. He was so kind and gracious to Mom, and she loved him dearly.
She loved hearing about my successes in advocacy, and encouraged me to fight, fight, fight. She always said they had no idea who they were dealing with.
She had a textbook life and a movie ending. She was here at home in hospice. We put they hospital bed in the living room so she was always near us. Just 3 days before she passed, she had a completely lucid day. Mom loved crossword puzzles, but had not done them in awhile. That day she did crosswords all day. Late in the evening, after not having a conversation with her in quite some time, she started talking to me. We talked about what I was to give to whom, her childhood memories, our trip memories. We laughed at the goofy stuff, talked about the serious stuff and she finally said, I am tired, I want to sleep. She barely woke up after that. Tuesday, early am, I heard her breathing change. I woke up, pulled a chair to the bed, held her hand and told her we loved her, would miss her, but it was fine for her to go peacefully, and she did. I will cherish those 2 hours the rest of my life.
I will carry on your legacy of fighting for those who need an advocate and being kind to people who need kindness. I love you Mom, now and forever. I hope I do you proud.