Tuesday, June 09, 2015

TOP STORY >> Reporter eulogizes mom

Leader staff writer

This is the most difficult story I have ever written. I am fighting the stinging rogue waves of grief that suddenly wash over me.

My mom is finally pain-free and at peace after passing away Friday after a tough two-year battle with breast cancer. She won her fight seven years ago, but the cancer came back with a vengeance.

Mom died at the age of 66 in her home in Cabot. She was a career homemaker who raised two children; my sister, Marty, and me. Mom and Dad were married for 42 years. Their anniversary was Monday. We were her caregivers over the past months and in the last days of her life she was never left alone. Mom is now forever resting at Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens in Beebe.

Mom was undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Doctors could not get the cancer under control. Her quality of life was declining. Last Saturday the pain became too great. She told us it was time. The doctor said she would have three months.

Mom did not want any more chemo that made her sick or have her chest cavity drained of fluid. She had slowly stopped eating and drinking.

On Tuesday we called Arkansas Hospice. The next day a gel- and air-filled bed was set up in the living room. Mom received the oxygen system she requested to help her breathe easier and stronger medications to ease her anxiety and pain.

It was Thursday afternoon when the hospice nurse gave the gut-punch. Mom did not have weeks to days, but hours. Family and friends were notified. Stronger liquid narcotics were prescribed and given to her every two hours.

Mom was telling us her final wishes.

“I love you very, very much,” she told me.

Friday morning arrived and Mom was in the process of dying. We were watching her body naturally shutdown. Her arms and legs were getting colder and looking like a roadmap. The hospice nurse telling us what was happening and when to increase the medicine dosage. Mom was still speaking but her voice was becoming weaker.

We all told her we loved her, we would be strong and we will make it after she was gone.

She finally put her head back on a pillow around noon after not sleeping for the past two weeks because she feared she wouldn’t wake up.

Mom then gave the biggest smile we’ve seen in the last month.

She continued to fade as we gave her the medicine every 30 minutes. Low pulse rate, shallow breathing, skin changing colors; It was the most terrible thing to see as the minutes raced by. Everyone was just waiting for the moment.

I was in the kitchen putting the syringe back in the morphine bottle when I heard my aunt in the living room burst out in tears.

My mom’s soul had left the shell of her body and went to Heaven at 5 p.m.

It was extremely sad but a relief that Mom was no longer hurting. She had finished the race of her life faster than we expected.


Mom liked to make people feel special. She would send cards and letters for all the holidays during the year to family and friends.

She took pride in her handwriting and made sure to put a sticker on the envelope.

If you gave her something, she would always write a thank-you note. (Yes, Mom, I will thank everyone who sent flowers for your funeral.)

She thought of others first and would give to local charities.

Mom liked to read. She enjoyed checking out the newest Debbie Macomber books at the new Nixon Library in Jacksonville. When I was little she read, “Mother West Wind’s Animal Friends” and Little Golden Books stories to me at night. As I got older, I read them back to her. Many of the books were Mom’s when she was a child.

She looked forward to getting strawberries from The Cabot Patch or Barnhill Orchards and buying tomatoes from the Cabot Farmers Market for sandwiches.

Mom was always happy to see you and took pride in the accomplishments made by my sister and me.

I believe my mom is still looking after me. My arms are cold and the hairs stuck up. On Monday morning before the funeral I went outside along the path to the mulch pile in the woods. I was thinking about her. When I turned back next to the trail, there was a large copperhead snake. It was coiled with its head up. I don’t know how I didn’t step on it. Mom was looking out for me.

The thing that bothers me the most are the questions I want to ask her but can’t.