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.


Fulltimervgalisa said...

Quite the lovely tribute to your Mother. It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing. Sky

Camp Colombo said...

I teared up reading this. I love how you describe your mother with such love and friendship.

Jona said...

I LOVE the closeness you found with your mom--truly love hearing about it. Thanks for sharing that you still feel her near you.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful tribute. Made me think of my Mom and how much I miss her also.

Rick D.

Anonymous said...

Needless to say this story made me cry, cry more than I have for a long time.

I envy your relationship with your mother, this was something I did not have with my mother due to mental health issues.

Thank you for sharing, although it made me cry it gave me joy reading about your loving relationship.

Marty Chambers