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When the time comes... 3/10/2020
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I’m often late in posting my monthly diary page, but I intentionally omitted my January entry.

For my beautiful mother passed away on January 4th. She would have turned 95 on the 25th of April, a special date we were hoping to celebrate with Mom this spring.

As I wrote in my last entry, she was admitted to the hospital on Thanksgiving morning. Treated for several infections, she also presented a very low red blood cell count. After a couple of transfusions, she was released and sent back to her nursing home feeling much better. I was reassured the night before my flight out for my three weeks on Jim Brickman’s Holiday Tour. Throughout the tour, we kept in touch and I was so happy to hear that she really had rallied and was doing well. You may remember she was even able to spend Christmas with us.

But on New Year’s Day, she was declining again. She had no appetite or strength, was in pain, and slept most of the time during my visit. On the 3rd of January, when my sister, my son and his wife and I went to see her, for what would be the last time, she was barely alert. We had met with Hospice that day and they assured us that they would make certain that she was kept comfortable; we took heart that assuaging her pain would give her the strength to take up the fight once more. But she expired early the next morning. She had rallied so many times before, we were totally devastated.

Mom was a huge part of my daily routine when I wasn’t touring. Even when I was on the road, I checked in with her almost daily. My sister, Wendy, and I would visit her every day, keep in touch with her by phone during the day, and communicate with her doctors, nurses and nursing home staff, regarding her health and needs.

I just couldn’t write about it, it’s so difficult to put the pain into words. My mom was smart, well-read, a fervent cinephile and so much fun. She made a point of keeping abreast of current events. She was blessed with a great sense of humor and had a wonderful outlook on life. I could talk to her about anything and receive her wise advice on any given subject. I miss her terribly.

The week before her funeral, family from all over the world gathered: siblings, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins joined together at our house or at Wendy’s, to celebrate her life through stories and photographs. We received beautiful plant and flower arrangements, pastry trays, deli trays, wonderful dinners and countless loving cards and messages. We were so moved by these kind gestures. They helped us focus on Mom and how best to honor her memory.

On January 17, her funeral was held at St. Dominic Church, where she had been a parishioner for over 60 years. I was baptized there and, along with my two brothers and both sisters, attended the adjoining school from grades one through eight, and received the sacraments of communion and confirmation there. Ed and I were wed in this church and our children carried on the tradition from their christening forward. Just last October, our youngest son was married at St Dominic’s on an uncannily warm and sunny day. It is so precious to me that my mother was able to attend and enjoy the festivities. Everyone was so pleased to see our Queen Mum looking lovely and regal in her wheelchair.

My mother thought so highly of our pastor, Father Tom Fanta, who was our celebrant at her funeral mass. His homily was beautiful and personal—he had just chatted with her at the rehearsal dinner for our son’s wedding.

Several family members took part in the funeral service. After communion, I expressed this sentiment on behalf of us all:
“The following song was our mother’s own choice for today’s Reflective segment. She loved to sing around the house and “Que Sera Sera” was one of her favorites-- and one that we children remember well, joining in on occasion. Dad made sure we wouldn’t forget by taping her on his big 2-reel recorder.
Mom was a fighter, but also accepted with grace, the difficult challenges she met in her nearly 95 years. “ Que Sera Sera” (whatever will be, will be), mirrors that outlook and her uniquely positive spirit.”

I then sang the song she had chosen months ago, for “when the time comes”. I don’t know how I got through it. Or maybe I do: Mom was with me.

My family and I were so grateful to the many people who filled the church with love and support that day. There were friends who drove from Michigan, as well as those who came from other parts of Ohio. I was very moved to see my children’s principal, Sister Mary Ann Mozser. When the boys were small, in the early days of touring, she had encouraged me to use my voice and “God-given gift”, even if it took me away from my family.

We were also deeply touched by the surprise presence of retired Bishop Martin Amos, who took part in the service and pronounced the final blessing. Father Amos was pastor of St. Dominic for 13 years before being raised to bishop. During that period, he married my husband and me, baptized my youngest son and administered their first communion to both boys. And he knew my parents. When he was appointed Bishop of Davenport, Iowa, he even came to see me at Jim Brickman concerts, when Davenport was a stop on our tour. He, like Father Tom, his successor, is so special. It was a great honor to have him there.

Each day brings back tender memories of my mom when I was a little girl and adolescent growing up. She was there when I became a mother, she took care of my children when I needed her, and in her much later years, I cared for her, in many ways like a mother, in return. I will continue to have my emotional moments, but feel that Mom and her love will always be with me. I know I was so blessed to have her for so long, her mind so sharp to the end.

As hard as it is, life must go on. The last day of January, my husband and I celebrated our youngest son’s birthday by taking him out to dinner with his wife. It was good to be together, remembering all the while.

Thank you for listening…

I will post my February recap in a few days and we will be all caught up.