The last 16 hours or so have been surreal for me and ironic.
My mom passed away, at the same time my flight from Newark to London took off. I found out shortly after landing from my wife, who was at the hospital when mom joined my late father in heaven. Helene's first words were "you mom is with your dad now. She passed about the time you took off for London." As I was flying I had an "eerie" feeling that had happened. It runs in my family. When one of my aunts passed away, Grandmom was already dressed for the funeral. She knew one of her children had passed some thirty plus years ago.
Am I sad? Yes. There is nothing more emotional than losing a parent, other than possibly losing a child or your spouse. Mom spent the last week of her life in California. She was more alive the last few days than in the last few months. She was animated, talking and more of herself than we had seen. The caregiving team in a matter of days did more with her than months of elder care or hospitals had done. But, when it's time, it's time. Most of all, on Sunday, Mom finally gave her blessing to me for my choice in a wife. She told Helene she loved her and was very happy I had chosen someone so special. That alone made her trip to California something special.
Today I talked to my cousin, now the patriarch of the family. He told me we did everything right. Now we prepare for Mom's trip back to Philadelphia on a plane. It will be her first, and last, flight ever. Mom never flew anywhere in her 87 years on Earth so it's irony that she'll fly home on one.
My staff has been super, rallying immediately. My family and friends as they hear the news have been loving and very forthcoming emotionally to me. My wife, who has been the sense of reason and interpreter of all things medical has been there every minute for me, putting her work aside so I can focus on mine. All of that has made it easier on me and softened the blows, but it still hurts and yes, I'm sad.
In life, as I grew up, I was very fortunate to have a series of male role models who as my employers and mentors were more like "bonus" dads to me, shaping, molding and sanding down my rough edges. But, I only had one mom. And now she joins my real dad and a few of the "bonus dads" to watch over me. Mom was the one who encouraged me to seek out my path. It was mom who taught me to ride a bike. It was mom who would go to the local toy store and buy me more wiffle balls when all mine had been "roofed" and it was mom who when I was in high school started to call me the "boarder" when my earlier nomadic lifestyle of coming home late from hockey events and meetings made it seem like I never was around for dinner with the family, and would still have something ready if I was hungry. Mom encouraged me and helped pave the way in so many ways when I was still a youth.
I still take joy in the day I showed her videos of the wedding she never flew to, or when hearing from Helene who showed her photographs of our weddings and how excited and animated she was. It was the same way I was when she read to me. Lots of interest, but clearly something that was new and different, "bright and shiny" to capture and keep her interest.
So Mom....I'll miss you....thanks for almost 50 great years and keep watching over me......I'm just glad on Sunday, I did get to say "Goodbye."