Sunday, June 17, 2012

My mother's death four years later

By Chuck Woodbury
I lost my mother four years ago, on July 5, 2008. Ruth Woodbury was 85. My father had died five months before at age 87.

My father died suddenly, and his death may have been caused by sloppy medical procedures, which made his passing especially sad. My mother died of natural causes. Her frail little body gave up on her, despite a mind that was as sharp, curious and fun-loving as a college girl's.

She moved in with m
e shortly after my father died. In the decade before, I had seen her only two or three times a year, usually for a few days at a time. Eight hundred miles separated us.

Her last five months with me were among the most wonderful times of my life. What fun we had! We laughed often. We watched baseball games together. On sunny days, I drove her to the shore of Puget Sound where we would sit on a bench, my arm over her shoulder, and watch the ships sail by.

Every night, I would tuck her into bed, hooking her up to oxygen to ease her breathing. She smoked for 30 years and paid a cruel price for it. When I attached the oxygen tube to her nose, she looked at me like a helpless child. She would stare into my eyes as I would hers. I will forever cherish that image.

I realized a month or so after I brought her home that I had quit thinking of her as Mother or Mom, but as Ruthie. Frail and weak, she needed my help just as a child needs that of a parent. She was my little Ruthie.

Now, four years after her passing, I miss her very much. Hardly a day goes by that I do not think of her. Some nights she comes to me in a dream. I love those visits.

These days I have found myself celebrating her life more than mourning her passing. Our final months together were her special gift to me  -- an opportunity for me to know her all over again, and to give back a bit to the woman who gave me life and love. I feel now like she's riding on my shoulder and will be there the rest of my days. I still hear her laugh, and when I do it brings a smile to my face and I feel good all over.

Goodbye again my sweet and beautiful Ruthie. You were the very best.

The photo: My mother at about age 20. My father carried this photo in his wallet every day the 61 years they were married.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

An interesting piece of driftwood

This piece of driftwood was alongside a foot path leading to the beach in Ocean City, Wash. I spotted it just as the sun was about to set. I missed seeing it with a few rays of sun on it by a few minutes. I think it might have been more interesting. I took a photo anyway.

If you keep your eyes open there is a lot to see wherever you go. A piece of driftwood can be interesting, even beautiful.

You can't really tell from the photos, but the driftwood was about five feet wide.

I kept my eye out for Japanese stuff from the tsumani there last year. I heard it is making its way to Pacific beaches. But I didn't see any.

I am very tall!

I cooked pasta for dinner. And I ate too much. No big surprise there. I always overeat pasta! It's one of the best foods in the world, right up there burritos.

So afterward, I needed to walk. So I headed off for the beach. I'm at Ocean City in a Washington State Park. I'm a couple of hundred yards from the shore. Signs all around warn of tsunamis. One sign says that if an earthquake should hit close by in the ocean, there might only be a few minutes to evacuate.

So here is how I read that: If an earthquake hits and a tsunami heads this way, "Bye, bye Charlie." Or in my case, "Bye bye Chuck."

I am hopeful that will not happen.

As I was walking to the beach to work off my pasta-bloated stomach, the sun was setting. I looked behind me and saw my shadow. Oh my goodness, all that pasta made me grow very tall!