When I woke up the morning after my mom died, my first thought as I popped out of bed was, “I have to call mom.” Somewhere between sleep and wakefulness, I was hoping she was still alive. Ever since my dad died 11 years ago, I called mom practically every morning to check in. Now there is just a terrible void.
Mom always wanted to look nice. Even when she went to the doctor, she would wear her Eileen Fisher clothes and favorite necklace. She kept her nails manicured, and watched her weight until the very end. She never liked to be photographed , but as her health declined, I asked her if I could document the process. It was a way of spending time together, and at the same time, I could distance myself somewhat from the emotional pain, by focusing my lens on her world.
Though mom was reluctant, she agreed to be photographed. She put on her lipstick while we held the hand mirror, and still looked beautiful.
Mom had a great sense of humor and would often laugh at herself.
She was a spitfire in a tiny body.
One time we went to the cardiologist and he said, ‘Jo, do you have shortness of breath?”
“No, ” she said, “But I have shortness of legs.”
Mom never wanted to go into an independent/assisted living home, as she thought they were “too cliquey.” In the end, we agreed.
She was happiest at home at Westport, with her ever dwindling circle of friends. She did Zumba and exercise at the senior center, went to theater at the Long Wharf and Westport Playhouse, and participated in many activities with the Y’s women.
Mom lived a full life, but at 89 and failing health, she was ready to be done.
But I wasn’t ready for her to go.