June 19, 2016

My mom passed away yesterday at the age of 92. She never liked people making a fuss over her, and if you started throwing compliments her way she’d always find a way to kind of pooh-pooh it, but this is one time she’s not going to get a say in the matter. And while I’m guessing she wouldn’t want a big deal to be made of her passing – certainly not to the extent of a blog post such as this – I think deep down she’d feel proud and honored by the sentiments expressed here. And knowing her as I think I do (after all, it was rare for Mom to share her innermost feelings with just about anyone), just seeing how much she was loved by all of us and how much she will be missed, I think would suffice, only as long as we all promised to get on with our lives and be happy while keeping her close in our memories. I think she’d be satisfied with that. At least I hope so.

If someone were to ask me to describe Mom in one word, it would be that she was a MOM. It’s what God called her to do as her life vocation, and she did it well. While she did many other things in her life between work, church and travel, more than anything else she was a mom, even to those who weren’t her children. Whether it was Tracey (who saw her as much of a mother figure as her own), or to Tracey’s twin Tammy, or to my various friends over the years, Mom had that way of making anyone feel welcome. Growing up in house with three other boys all born within 3 1/2 years of each other (two brothers and two cousins) both Mom and my Auntie Marge put up with a lot when we were young, and even more so when we entered our late teens. But no matter how much we might have screwed up, and how put out with us she might be, never once did we ever think we weren’t loved.

And, I guess, speaking as her oldest son, that was always the most important thing to me. Unlike parents today, Mom and I weren’t friends, or buddies, or pals, or whatever the heck parents these days try to carve out as a relationship with their children. She was my mother, I was her son, and I never thought otherwise. Growing up, it was Mom who was the disciplinarian in the house; while I think I got the strap only once, you knew damned well you had messed up simply by the tone in her voice or the look on her face – that was usually enough to get the point across.

Once we kids were grown and pretty much on our own, Mom and my dad enjoyed traveling but remained home-bodies at heart. Unlike so many New Englanders, neither Mom nor Dad ever had the itch to snowbird their winters in Florida. And while my Dad has always enjoyed taking walks outside and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation, I always found it funny that Mom was never much of nature person. She was a faithful church-goer until her later years, but she never stopped being faithful to God: she kept a cup on her bureau that she would put a quarter in each day as a way of giving thanks. And until her feet gave out, she enjoyed volunteering at our church’s “Thrift Shop” and knowing all the regulars who frequented there the days she worked. She had a melodic voice, loved music, and loved to sing: she sang in church choirs for years, and her habit was to sing harmony to any music that might be playing at the time. I told her many times the greatest gift she ever gave me (besides a mother’s love, of course!) was my ear for music.

It seems that for someone who lived nearly ninety-three years there should be oodles of experiences to write about, but at heart Mom was a very simple and down-to-earth person. She loved whenever family would come to visit – especially her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and it seems especially right that her last full day on earth was spent surrounded by family, a visit from two of her great-grandchildren, and the news that she had become a great-grandmother for the fourth time. The cycle of life! She faithfully watched her “story” – General Hospital – each day, and loved watching her game shows and the Red Sox (not baseball, the Red Sox!) who she missed dearly until Spring Training came back around. She enjoyed an occasional trip to the casino (Sam’s Town in Vegas until both she and Dad got weary of air travel), then Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun for just a day with the money she’d saved strictly for that occasion, and when it was all gone (she rarely won anything gambling!) she was content to leave it until the next time.

In her last decade of life things got kind of tough. Losing her youngest son (my brother Mark) at such an early age wounded her deeply. And while her health issues accumulated began to accumulate she had spent the first eight decades of her life in pretty good health and kept her wits right until the end. Increasingly, she would bemoan all the medications and treatments that she felt kept people alive long after they outlived their usefulness; I know she sometimes felt like she was a bother to us, but nothing could have been further from the truth. When the end came, both she and her body were more than ready to go, and we are all grateful and comforted that she went out the way she did – in peace and surrounded by loved ones.

It’s going to feel strange not having a mom around to talk to, to share things with, to just call and chit-chat with, and to get cards from on special occasions. I’m sixty years old, and losing my mother makes me all of a sudden feel old and rudderless. I’m sure over time that will pass, but it’s hard to think of someone who has been part of your life from the day you were born not being there anymore. I know for her it is all for the best – she’s now at rest and in God’s hands – but it’s gonna be tough for the rest of us who must carry on without her love, wisdom, and abiding presence in our lives.

Her name was Dorothy Geraldine Richard, but to me she was Mom. As your oldest son, I hope I lived up to your expectations more often than not and that I made you proud. I love you and will miss you greatly. Rest in peace.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 08:29 | Comments (7)
  1. Well said ..

    Your dear friend

    Steve (aka Killa)

    Comment by Steve — June 19, 2016 @ 10:39 am

  2. Sending my love and condolences to you and your family. What a beautiful tribute you have written about you “mom”. I so enjoyed hearing and reading about your parents and how supportive they were of you and all the music that was played and listened to you in your home. May her journey onward be filled with peace and calm and knowing the love goes with her.

    Comment by Jana — June 19, 2016 @ 5:35 pm

  3. Dear Doug: A truly wonderful tribute to a truly wonderful person. And she was always that way for the 85 years that she was part of my life. Not only was she my big sister but she was my dearest friend, my closest confidante, my sounding board and always there when I needed to blow off steam. There are no words to express how much I will miss her and no one could ever replace her.

    Comment by Auntie Marge — June 20, 2016 @ 8:13 am

  4. Hey Doug, so sorry to hear about you mom. I never had the privilege of meeting her but she sounds like a wonderful person. You were blessed to have her in your life for so many years. Hope that all of those wonderful memories of her are with you always. Take care … Kevin / Goose

    Comment by Kevin — June 21, 2016 @ 9:39 am

  5. Thanks everyone for your kind comments and lovely thoughts. She was a peach!

    Comment by The Great White Shank — June 24, 2016 @ 5:03 am

  6. Sorry to hear, GWS …

    Rob&Patsy Ferrara

    Comment by Rob — June 24, 2016 @ 8:00 am

  7. Thank you Rob! Hope all is well with you down in Louisiana. My Mom always remembered fondly getting a “Happy Birthday” call from my since-departed friend Rock who wanted to send her birthday wishes while I was visiting him down in Grand Isle one day. She thought being called “Miss Dot” by a real Louisiana man was very flattering.

    Comment by The Great White Shank — June 26, 2016 @ 4:20 pm

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