Article by: MaryEllen | Monday, May 13, 2019

By MaryEllen Tribby

I have spent the last five weeks in pain. Actually it will be five weeks on Tuesday.

You see it was April 9th at 1:15 p.m. when my mother took her last breath.

My sister and I had spent the last 48 hours of her life by her side anticipating her passing. By that time, she was on palliative care. Some people call it comfort care.

This in itself seemed not only barbaric to me but ironic. She had no food or water, no IV’s with fluids. She did have morphine and anxiety meds, as much as she needed. The staff and my sister insisted these were her wishes.

Knowing that did not help.

Watching someone slowly die is excruciating especially when it is the person who gave you life, especially when the majority of your relationship with that person was dysfunctional.

More Irony

I don’t have regret, but I do have sorrow.

I made my peace with my mother years ago after my oldest was born.

I tried understanding her upbringing. I convinced myself she did her best in raising us, in trying to love us. Yet the closeness never came.

Or never came with my mother and myself.

But a new closeness was born. One that I first experienced on September 7, 1998 – you guessed it, Mikaela’s birthday. This amazing awe grows every day and was only magnified over the years with the arrival of Connor and Delanie.

My kids taught me that being a mom was a gift, a blessing and a privilege. They taught me how to love unconditionally. They taught me how to turn anger into forgiveness.

And I did – I forgave my mom.

This is why I flew to her bedside several weeks before her passing and then again at the end.

I considered it an honor and privilege to have spent those last 48 hours of her life with her. And to have been in the room when she left this earthly world and transitioned to her heavenly home, regardless how much it hurt.


Even More Irony

The next day was arrangement time.

A casket, flowers, prayer cards, photos and the reception restaurant were all picked out, ordered and booked by siblings and myself.

Now came the hard part.

My siblings requested that I speak at my mother’s service. Their reason had nothing to do with my relationship with my mother. Rather their reasoning was simple. I did this (speaking) for a living and I was good at it.

Little did they know what they asked was the hardest thing I could imagine.

I had three days to come up with something. Something I would have to share in front of my siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, my mother’s friends, her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren and a priest.

This was my mom’s send off – these words would be the last official words her loved ones heard about her.

I spent three days in emotional turmoil and physical pain. My heart actually hurt. I had no idea what I was going to say.

Friday night came and left quickly.

It was 5:00 a.m. Saturday morning and I still didn’t know what I was going to say in just a few hours. So, I decided at that very minute, I would say whatever came to my mind.

After all this was my mom, the person I knew the longest in my entire life. I would not worry about the words, I would focus on the feelings, the feelings of all the people she touched in her lifetime.

So when the time came I got up and below is what I said word for word. I had no notes – it’s just what came to me:

On behalf of my sister Jodi, my brothers Pat and Corky, I would like to thank you for attending today – to celebrate our mother’s life.

Our mother did not have the traditional warm and fuzzy upbringing. In spite of that, her and my dad managed to instill decent and honorable values in us.

And as actions speak louder than words, my mother displayed these values throughout her life.

You could spot her kindness by the many animals she took into her home, some of these from the wild.

You could appreciate her compassion by the numerous generous donations she made to different organizations and charities.

You could clearly see the love in her eyes every time she was in a room with one or more of her grandchildren or great great-grandchildren.

And her sassiness came through, even in death, as she asked to be buried in red.

And of course, her sense of humor stayed with her to the end.

Just a few hours before her passing my sister and I were sitting with her and she had been in and out of consciousness for hours, totally nonverbal. My sister gently stroked her hand and said “It’s ok OK Mmom, you can go. If you want to go, just go.”

At that point my mother opened her eyes, looked directly at us and said, “Go where?”

Several minutes later she passed.

So today let’s not say “Farewell”. Instead let’s just toast to her and simply say “Until we meet again”.

Because we know that right now our mother is raising a little hell in heaven.

After the funeral, the cemetery and the reception, I finally had a moment to sit alone and reflect.

And it hit me like a ton of bricks. My mother had taught me kindness, compassion and love.

Yes, it may have been in a roundabout way – but she taught me nonetheless.

And for this I say, “Thanks Mom. I love you.” ❤

his I say, “Thanks Mom. I love you.”