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.

















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16 thoughts on “Jo

  1. Susie…I am so sorry for your loss but you are blessed with the memories you captured with your photos and that will be in your memory forever. Thanks for sharing with me. StClair

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. Susie, this is just priceless. It’s reminiscent of how both of our mothers were ready for eternal rest even when they looked so wonderful on the outside. I hope these pictures don’t make you too sad. Selfishly, I appreciate you posting them so I could say goodbye, as your mother knew me so long and was an important part of my childhood. I’m hoping our four parents are having a blast together in heaven. Good luck managing your heart. xoxox, Kim Plaut Sullivan


  3. I’m so touched by your documentation as tears stream down my face. Captured with so much respect from a loving daughter’s perspective. So sorry for the loss now of both your parents. I know how hard it is to be here without them as we miss them every day. Continued peace. Kathy


  4. Susie, this is a beautiful tribute to your mom.
    I will always remember how she greeted me with her warmth and positive energy.

    As blessed as you all were to have her , she was blessed with you, Dan and Laurie. All with amazing talents of expression.

    My heart goes out to you all and the extended families. With much love, Andrea


  5. The strength and character of Jo resonates with your touching personal photo journalistic story of her beautiful life. Combined with the emotional service by her children and grandchildren honoring her, it is apparent that she passed on her terms. My fondness of her feels like family. I will miss our ceremonial glass of Chardonnay at the holidays we shared. Her generosity and genuine interest in others will be remembered and she would enjoy knowing that memories of her brings so many smiles.


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