A Tribute to My Mom!
As I mentioned in my last blog, my mom passed away suddenly and unexpected. We do not know what happened yet and it has been over 3 weeks. I wanted to take some time to write about my mom and step away from the business posts for a minute.
My mom was a strong woman. She battled Multiple Sclerosis for over 15yrs. She never wanted anyone to know she had it. In those 15yrs she was a RN. She worked for hospitals in ICU, worked for Hospice, worked for the State as a Nursing Home inspector, and many more. She was an amazing nurse and was proud that she could continue nursing with her illness. My whole life she always had at least two jobs.
She was proud that she could go to work and no one knew she had MS. When people did find out, they didn’t believe her or they were shocked. They would say “Wow! I would have never known. You never complain. You work hard”. Little did they know that her body hurt every day. That she would hide ice packs under her scrubs so she didn’t get too hot. She would come home and wouldn’t be able to do anything else the rest of the day. She was exhausted. Inside closed doors she suffered. But like the pastor said at her funeral, “She was MS! She was Mighty Strong!”
Prior to my mom having MS she was married to my father. They divorced when I was seven years old. It was a hard divorce. My mom went through bankruptcy, depressions, and the stress of raising twins on her own. But she had refuge in her parents house. We moved to my grandparents house in San Angelo, TX. With the help of a wonderful Aunt (Dedee), and wonderful grandparents, my mother was able to work 2 jobs and provide for us everything we needed and most of what we wanted.
As a kid I didn’t truly understand what MS was and I was embarrassed to be seen in public with her in her scooter, or her walker. As I grew into an adult, my mom started progressing with her disease. About 6yrs ago she started having trouble working in the ICU. She could no longer pretend she was not sick. That’s when she took her job at Hospice Austin. She was a team leader. She loved her job. For the most part it was a desk job, with occasional visits to nursing homes. But, that only lasted for about a year! She began having memory problems and severe fatigue. She had a horrible MS attack and ended up having to go on long term disability with her job. At this time she became unable to drive or work. I moved her closer to me so I could care for her. This was when it finally hit me what MS truly was. I was no longer embarrassed, but sad and scared.
I cared for my mom for the past 4 1/2yrs. She had her ups and her downs. I’m going into my part as her caretaker because this is a tribute to my mom. Let’s just say it was hard on both of us. She wanted to be independent like she had always been. She was alone and scared. She hoped for a cure so bad. Until the day my mom died she was very active in trying to find a cure and support the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
I remember going to MS walks, MS bike rides, and MS luncheons with my mom on many occasions. She would put together a team (even if that team was just me and her). She would raise money (even if that money came from her pocket). We would volunteer at each walk and bike ride that we could. My mom even became a spokesperson for the National MS Society. One year she was even a VIP. When she was no longer able to volunteer, we went to watch or participate in the walks and bike rides. She found other ways to support them. She began making pillows for the Society to make money with. She never was able to finish the pillows, because she passed before they were finished, but she was so excited about it. She had finally come up with a way that she could help again (even though she was sooo sick and tired).
My mom had a beautiful voice! Man could she sing. We used to sing duets together. The one I remember the most was “His Eye is On The Sparrow”. The words seemed so true to our life and her struggle. “Why should I be discourage, why should the shadows come, Why should my heart feel lonely, and long for heaven and home. When Jesus is my portion. A constant Friend is he. His eye is on the Sparrow, and I know he watches me.” The other part we loved so much was, “I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free”. Mom and I shared a love of music that was so special to both of us. When she passed I put “I sing because I’m happy” on her blanket and that is the plan for her casket. She sang all the time and singing made her so happy. She sang for many churches and loved to sing hymns. She never stopped believing in God. Like the pastor said, “Rita was MS! She was mighty Spiritual!
The other thing my mom had, was a wonderful sense of humor. Oh my gosh could she make you laugh. Even when she was hurting and didn’t feel good, she could find something funny to laugh about. A friend of mine reminded me of a joke she used to play on us a kids. I didn’t remember it until she mentioned it the other day. My mom would sing like a munchkin from the Wizard of Oz. She told us over and over again that she was on the Wizard of Oz as a munchkin. We would tell her she was too big. She said she was in the back kneeling or squatting. Or sometimes she would say she was just a voice and not actually in it. We would get so mad at her and laugh and say “Stop it mom! You were not a munchkin”. There are many more stories I could tell, but she was funny. Like the pastor said, “She was MS! She was Mighty Silly”.
My mom was special woman. She was giving and loving, funny, and hard working. She never gave up. She never quit fighting. She was even feeling better then she had felt in a long time prior to her death. We are so shocked that she is gone. She will truly be missed. I didn’t realize how much my life had been touched by my mom. Mostly in these past 4 1/2yrs of caring for her. There is a bond that is created between caretaker and the person being taken care of, especially when it is mother and daughter. The last thing I want to say is what the pastor ended his sermon with at her funeral. “Rita was MS! She was Mighty Special!”
What a wonderful tribute to my mother. He took MS (her illness) and made it into positive things. “Mighty Strong!” “Mighty Silly”, “Mighty Spiritual”, and “Mighty Special”, May you rest in peace and may I see you again in Heaven.
your daughter, Amber