It is a difficult morning today. A phone call at an early hour almost never bodes well. Such was the case this morning. My wife received the news of the passing of her mother. It was not totally unexpected, yet it was not expected either. Pat, a high-spirited and determined person, lived alone in her apartment in Kentucky. It was her choice. Sort of an “I’m in charge” attitude.
She endured a myriad of life experiences. Keenly intelligent and an avid reader, she frequented her favorite bookstore, (I’ll put in a plug for Joseph Beth Booksellers), dined on Quiche and simply enjoyed the surroundings of her fellow readers. What with a bout of shingles in her eyes and her cataract surgery, this activity had been curtailed for a while, but it did not diminish her enthusiasm for reading. With the aid of a friend, she continued her journeys, enduring the discomfort of travel in order to make her presence known at Joseph Beth. She was “in charge”.
From her eighth-floor apartment, she was known to ride down the elevator, walk out the front door and travel down the sidewalk to shops along the way. Did I mention she did this with a walker? She was a proud lady, independent, not willing to accept the aid and advice of those around her and especially from her children. Remember, she was “in charge”.
Giving up the keys to her automobile was the quintessence of aging. It was not an easy task and if our existence on this earth is long enough, it will befall us all. However, she was nonplussed. Relinquishing her keys did not occur at once. The decision arrived over the course of a year or so. Her children simply had to wait until it became her choice; she eventually made the choice. After all, she was “in charge”.
I do not have a bevy of stories about Pat, just a few observances. With regret, I never had the opportunity of really knowing this woman. I came into the family two and a half years ago, when I married her daughter. Shortly there after, we made a trip to her home and with a little trepidation, after all, I was meeting my mother-in-law; I was welcomed into the family. The one and only time I have been around my wife’s family and I was made to feel right at home. I am grateful for that experience. But I left with the sense of Pat being “in-charge”.
For several months, we had tried to get Pat to move to Texas, to no avail. She was comfortable where she was. So, the relationship remained a long distance situation. Her oldest son lives close and bore the brunt of seeing to her care.
Her youngest son, lives in Bangkok, Thailand and of course her daughter, my wife, lives in Texas. Each sibling checks in on their mother often, I know that Wednesdays and Saturdays are sacrosanct around our house. And always, she ended the conversation with her being “in-charge”.
She will be missed by her friends and her family. She left a lasting impression on me. I recall a song; many have sung it, I prefer Frank Sinatra’s version, and I paraphrase here, “She Did it Her Way”. After all, she was “in-charge”.