Love and Dry Manhattans


Love and Dry Manhattans

peace-68861_640The house is quiet, hubby is still asleep and the cat is sitting on the windowsill. Well, almost quiet... the parrot is complaining that she is still locked in her cage. She “sneezes” to get my attention. The sound of the air mattress cycling on and off has ceased.

Mom died yesterday afternoon. I was with her; we ended this lifetime journey as we began it almost 95 yeas ago, together.

Over the last several months I have written about her suffering and pain. Her determination to live and her anguish as the last bits of her independence were slowly taken away from her.

Let me tell you now what kind of woman she was. My mother loved life. I have said to many she was never afraid of dying, she just liked life too much to want to let go of it. Five short weeks ago she was asking the doctor if she could go on another cruise. We settled for a trip to Applebee’s instead. Mom, two caregivers and me. She happily downed two Dry Manhattan’s and nibbled on an onion ring.

She loved a good party. She and my father would drive from our home in New Jersey back to Johnstown, Pennsylvania to attend New Year’s Eve parties throughout my childhood. I remember sleeping in the back seat of the car, waking to the sight of the lights in the tunnels as we traveled at night. You can imagine those parties; Mad Men has the era right. I have seen the photos; the ladies all dressed up, cigarettes in long black holders in one hand, Manhattans or Old Fashions in the other. In one photo mom has on a black top and what looks like a black and white plaid taffeta full skirt with a red petticoat under it. I loved that red petticoat.

My cousin wrote me an email this week. He said in part: “Your mom helped to care for me 69 years ago when I was an infant and my dad was in Europe in WWII.” That’s what my mom did. She was a Registered Nurse. (She actually gave me my first Polio shot.) Every time one of her sisters or brother’s wives had a baby my mom packed up her bag, left me and dad and went to help for a week. All their friends in Johnstown got the same treatment. A baby was born, off she went. When we lived in New Jersey our church had a nursery to take care of the young children while the parents attended services. Part of the nursery was the Babyfold. Infants younger than six months were cared for by a nurse. That nurse was my mom. When hubby and I had babies, she came to show us the ropes. (After all, we were two only children, we never had brothers or sisters to learn on.) But this is the kind of woman she was; when I asked her and dad to join us for breakfast, she said no, they would eat later, we needed the time to be with each other.

Over the years my friends have been welcomed into this family as if they were her own children. Everyone has a story or a fond memory to share. Somehow she managed to mother them all no matter how young or old.

Then we move to her grandchildren. Mom just loved her grandchildren. She would marvel that as teenagers that they still wanted to spend time with their grandparents. Isn’t that a great testament to the kind of person she was. She taught my son to make pie crust at the tender age of 7. (Thank goodness - the skill to make a good pie crust eludes me still!) She showed them how to play cards, took them to museums, watched their softball games and tennis matches.

My mother shared her enthusiasm for life with everyone she touched. She mothered us all and has shown us to be thankful and grateful for what we have. More than that she showed us love. I will miss her sorely, but I have more memories than I can recall in a lifetime. Here’s to you lady, Dry Manhattans in hand, we drink to you!

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I'm so sorry for your loss, TDM. I loved reading about your mother in her time of youth and health. It must have felt good to reflect on those memories.


A beautifully written tribute to a woman who taught you to appreciate life, as you obviously do. Thank you for sharing your journey with her.


I'm so sorry for your loss but so glad that you were raised by such an awesome woman.


Ah, TDM, thank you so much for letting us know. I loved getting to know your mom through your posts and during our chats. Her heart was immeasurable. I can understand how much you will miss her. \r\n\r\nYou provided amazing, loving care for her. You always amazed me with how much you knew about what she needed, especially given how intense and complicated her needs became. \r\n\r\nI'm thinking of you, your husband and your kids. I'm so glad you are surrounded by their love. I'm also so glad that you'll always be able to feel just how very much your mom loved you.