Sunday, May 17, 2009

Saying Good-Bye to Mom

This blog will have nothing to do with adoption or related topics, today.

You see, for the past 20 years of being married to her wonderful son, I have been honored to be allowed to call Alice Genevieve Case Westbrook "Mom." She knew all about my "scarlet" past, yet loved me unconditionally because I loved her son. She treated my children as her grandchildren, just as if they were her own. My two youngest call her "Grandmama Westbrook."

Mom was born on February 18, 1915. She married my late father-in-law when she was 18 and had eight children, which included one set of unexpected twins. She raised these children, did hard work on the farm and in the house and, when Dad got tired of Michigan winters, moved with him and their 3 youngest daughters to Florida. She also has 21 grandchildren (25 including mine), and I think, 27 great-grandchildren and 5 great-great grandchildren. The family is so large, there could be more or less in the "great-great" category. She lost her husband of 59 years in 1993. A little over 2 years ago, she lost the second man in her life, her gentleman friend, Grandy.

Although severely hampered by arthritis, loss of hearing and macular degeneration, Mom tried to live to the fullest, right up to the end. A defiant red-head, she would remind her daughters when it was time to hide the gray roots. She knew her bank balance to the penny and had every piece of business correspondence read to her and explained if she didn't get a point or two. She lived life on her own terms and died the same way.

Last night, at 11:25PM, one week after falling ill on Mother's Day, Mom passed away, peacefully and painlessly, in her own bed, in her own home with four of her children there. I was honored to participate in her care and be included at the bedside. At 94, Mom had decided she was due a good, long rest.

Mom was known to my hubby and I for what we call "Mom-isms." Our favorite is the one when she was complaining about all the shark attacks on Florida's east coast a few years ago. She grumbled about how no one could go to the beach and have fun, anymore, because it was too dangerous. My husband tried to remind her that, when people entered the surf, they were going into the shark's territory. "But they have the whole ocean!," reasoned Mom. We also will go the rest of our life knowing that Alzheimer's is really "Al Hizer's" and that you must "unthaw" anything that is frozen. She hated turning on the air conditioner, even when it was really hot and we would often have to turn the thermostat down in her house when she wasn't looking because we were sweating.

We will remember Mom's really not-too-good meatloaf, her refusal to buy bananas when they reached 50 cents a pound, how she loved a party, the way she would get pink-cheeked and sparkly-eyed after an eggnog or a glass of wine and her fondness for strawberries in any form. We will remember her generosity to her children that contrasted with her tendency to pinch a penny until it screamed. We will look through her massive collection of DVD's of old musicals and comedies which she would watch and re-watch, even after her sight started failing. We will remember her full and hearty laugh when something was funny.

I lost my mother when I was only 23, but, for the past 20 years, I can honestly say I had a Mom.

Goodbye Mom. Enjoy your rest.


Mary Ellen Walsh said...

She sounds like a wonderful woman, wish I had known her. May she rest in peace and watch over you all.

Mary Ellen Walsh

Triona Guidry said...

Robin, my sympathies on your loss. I too am blessed with a mother-in-law who has welcomed me into her family despite my status as an adoptee (or as some would have it, "bastard"). Such women are a rarity and deserve much appreciation. Blessed be in rest, Alice Genevieve Case Westbrook.

Paula said...

I am very honoured to have had the joy of meeting the lovely Alice Genevieve Case Westbrook. She was wonderfully welcoming, warm and witty. I will remember her with great fondness.

Rest in peace, Ginny, you are loved.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear this news, Robin,
she lived a long, wonderful life.

I love your stories, of her, and am sad hearing this news of her passing as I know through you she was one wonderful woman.

hugs Gale

Unknown said...

That was a touching tribute.

I am sorry for your loss.

Robin said...

Thank you all. Mom, when she was being really obtuse, could piss off the Pope...but she also loved with all her heart. I would never have changed her. Her quality of life had become so compromised that her passing is a blessing. My tears are for me. My smiles are for Mom and her relief from pain and suffering.

Unknown said...

Ah, Robin, she sounds to have been a great lady! I love your stories of her, and know that you adored her. I am quite certain that the feeling was mutual. I know you are easy to love, My Friend.

I am sure that she looks down on you all now and is enjoying the activity in her honor. I get the idea that being at the center of things was not something that she minded much!

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family as you go thru these difficult days ahead. Be safe, Dear Girl.


Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry ((((((((((hugs))))))))))

Anonymous said...

Robin, I just read this, my own mother has been ill and I have not kept up as well as I could have wished, Words ring hollow at these times, but know you and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers, and also that you have my deepest and most heartfelt sympathy on the loss of your "mom"

Mary aka MissMeggles

Thinking Mama said...

What a wonderful tribute, Robin! What a blessing to have her in your life.