In a few days, it will be the 23rd anniversary of your death. Although I was deeply saddened when it happened, I love the story that preceded it. You and dad were at a New Year’s Eve party at the Traymore hotel in Atlantic City along with many of your friends. Quite spontaneously you turned to my father and asked him to dance. He later told me he couldn’t remember the two of your dancing for at least three decades. Nevertheless, you insisted, he acquiesced and off you went.
Dad had been sleeping in his lounge chair in the living room and had done so for a couple of years because of pretty severe back pain. He told me that night after the party you walked into the living room complaining of a severe stomachache. You held your stomach, collapsed and never regained consciousness.
You could be a bit pushy sometimes and a bit of pain in the ass. I don’t know if I would say this if you were alive, but more often than not you were right. I remember when I was about 15 years old, there was a big dance in Atlantic City. It was a contest for kids in Atlantic City, Ventnor and Margate where I lived. I told you I didn’t feel like going, but she insisted. I finally confessed that the reason I didn’t want to go was because I was afraid that I wouldn’t know anybody and wind up alone. Thankfully, you arranged for me to go with a friend.
A little after we arrived , the dance contest began. As I recall, it was an elimination contest and there were about 30 couples at the beginning. Anyway, I Roseann and I won the contest and we were awarded a small gold trophy about 8 inches high.
Mom, as you know I’ve had a pretty successful career and have enjoyed a good reputation in the Philadelphia region. As such, I have received many different awards. I have many plaques, a beautiful crystal bowl, and many framed accolades. But throughout my career, all of those awards sat stacked on a shelf in my office and not visible. The one award I displayed prominently on my bookshelf was that little 6 inch award proclaiming Roseann and I the best dancers in Atlantic City. I don’t remember if I ever thanked you, but I should have.
Several months ago I was terribly ill and spent several weeks in intensive care. I had another urinary tract infection, but we are pretty sure I developed sepsis. In addition, there was something wrong with the way my medication was affecting my brain. As a result I developed a form of brain toxicity and suffered with delirium. During which time I wasn’t clear about where I was and often wasn’t clear about what was happening to me. Anyway, as I was coming out of the delirium, I kept calling for you and asked my nurse Tracy where you were. She told me that you had died. It was as though I heard this for the first time and I cried for you like I never have before. And I missed you like I never have since your death. And I love you more than I ever have.
It seems to me that sometimes death and life and love all get mixed in together.
And when that happens, our hearts open and love flows freely.
Thank you for loving me the way you did and for being such a good mom (by the way, I apologize for being a pain in the ass to you also. Maybe there is a gene for that?)