Monday, March 11, 2019

"Happy 103rd birthday, Mom!"

 Well, no, she did not reach the triple digits but she lived a helluva good, long time.

March 5, 1916 was when she was born and she passed just a few days after her 96th birthday.

She would have smiled and wished everyone a "Happy St. Paddy's Day" at her funeral down in Yemassee, SC.

I returned to Charleston after my divorce in 1993 and was living on James Island in a neat little brick 800 sf building at the end of a winding dirt road.

Mom had retired as an LPN from St. Francis Hospital after working downtown for 25 years.

Yes, they gave her a 25-year service pin, a gold watch... and a rather small pension.

She once complained to me how $139 a month after 25 years with the hospital, was not very much money.

I agreed it was small by today's standards but she had been collecting it each month for nearly 30 years!

We did the math: $139 x 12 months equaled $1,668 a year.

Times the 30 years she had received a retirement pension check would be a total of slightly more than $50,000!

That put a smile on her face and she said "OK, where's the fifty grand?"

(The photo above shows Mom playing around, pressing her face on the hospital copy machine many, many years ago.)

The photo on the left shows Mom joining me for a beer on a Sunday afternoon at the now-closed Backstage Deli in North Charleston.

Not a drinker, she had agreed to pose with me and a yard of ale I  had bought for this photo opp.

This was the only place I knew that gambled on using the tall, fragile glasses in a public bar.

You had to hand over your driver's license before they would start to fill the glass.

That deterred people from sneaking out the door with the costly souvenir glass.

It would have been difficult to hide it under your coat or sweater.

And, of course, you had to also steal the wooden glass holder.

Breakage finally called a halt to the use of these special glasses, I was told by the owner.

In this other "drinking" photo, Mom was hoisting a glass of Welch's fizzy grape juice that was as close to her version of an alcoholic toast that we shared to welcome a new year.

Needless to say, I had filled my glass with real wine.

A nice pinot noir to be precise.

On New Year's Eve, I would attend the Retirees Drop-in at the Post and Courier.

For many years, I brought home the bottle of "fake" wine the paper handed out.

After I had returned to town for a few years, my dad went into a nursing home.

 Mom asked me to move in with her because she did not want to be alone in her home.

My brothers were married and living elsewhere so I was the available son to do that for her.

I did move in and she stayed in her home for another 10 years with me as her "roommate."

It was good for both of us.

One side of the house was finished as a bachelor pad for me.

(Dad was a carpenter and had expanded the 800 sf house they bought in 1962 to 2,000 square feet.

First thing he added was a 1,000 square foot workshop because that's where he made his money.)

After I moved in, I had a deck built on the back of the house so mom could relax on sunny afternoons. Two overhead fans made sure she was comfortable out there.

Another fan was added to the front porch so she could "move with the sun" from one to the other.

I had a good deal, a nice house and my mom asking if I would be home for dinner that night.

She liked to cook and now she had a son at home to cook for.

My cousin Francine (Pookie) continued her visits to see mom as she had done for years when we all lived downtown at Meeting and Society Streets in Ansonborough.

She had driven mom to visit dad at the Mt. Pleasant nursing home for several years until he passed away.

Not surprising, when mom could not continue to stay at home, even with paid caregivers, the choice for Assisted Living was Sandpiper, the same one she had selected for her husband.

Very social, Mom had a delightful, spacious room, filled with her furniture, pictures she loved on the walls and mementos she treasured.

 Unfortunately, after only 5 months there, she suffered a stroke and was moved to the nursing home part of the facility.

She was diligent in her physical therapy and regained most of her speech and the use of her left side.

I noticed that once a week, adorable dogs were brought to Sandpiper to comfort residents.

I like that, so one day, I packed up Wallaby, her cat, and brought him to visit her.

Might have been the first cat to visit.

She was asleep when I arrived. I carefully took him out of the carrier, put him on the bed and gently placed her hand on his head.

Memory - or his purring - awoke her and she smiled as she petted her feline friend.

I visited mom often and joined her for lunch many times.

Got to know the staff over the 4 years she was there and they did not mind when I took mom on a very FAST cruise around the facility.

Well, maybe they were concerned but I was careful and only did this when we were alone.

She would laugh and say "Go faster."

Which I did.

My younger brother Dennis moved from Clearwater, Florida, up to Summerville and he and his wife would come to visit mom.

We all would join her for meals and holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Dennis captured a sweet moment when a colorful clown posed with her on a New Year's Eve.

He is on the right.

I later found out he was the husband of one of the staff who took care of mom.

When mom passed, she was buried on March 17 at her beloved Yemassee, where she had grown up as a child.

It's a place I stop and visit when I am heading down to Savannah.

Not as often as I should, but mom would understand.

She did not live to see me start being picked as an Extra in various tv shows and movies here in Charleston and down in Savannah.

She would have encouraged me to do this and hope - with me - that maybe someday I would even be featured and given a line or two.

Mom's are like that.

(Click on the photos or links for more information.)

I did not finish this entry in time for her birthday so I wanted to make sure it was posted before the anniversary of her funeral.

Thanks Mom.

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At Thu Apr 11, 02:49:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really like this post about your mom. The pictures and the son's viewpoint are heartfelt. Honest writing about a topic important to the reader is becoming harder to find.

At Thu Apr 11, 02:56:00 AM , Anonymous Wendi Lau said...

I'm sorry, that comment about hones writing was not meant to be anonymous. I despise anonymous commenters.

At Wed Jul 24, 04:52:00 AM , Blogger lymacsau said...

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