When I saw a phone call from Paul last night at what would have been 9pm east coast time I had that sinking feeling that it wasn’t good news. Sometimes it really sucks to be right. My mom had passed away. It didn’t really come as a shock because of a text from Steve the other day.
I feel like I tend to be one of the more emotional of all us kids in the family. I also make no illusions about being a gifted “writer” but writing a blog post like this (just like I did for Dad, Caleb and Guinness) helps me process what has happened.
However, I also inherited my mother’s ability to compartmentalize and put those emotions on hold to look at things in a rational manner and not let emotions reign (though believe me, I can do that too). She used it in her nursing career and it has been one of my greatest assets as a manager. That ability helped last night talking with Paul too.
Mom had been in declining health for some time. I didn’t get to see her as much as I would have liked and especially the past two years with covid inhibiting travel back to see family.
What I can tell you is that Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease and the theft of an individual’s memories is nothing I would wish on anyone. I think living so far away, and not being in day to day contact with my mom like previous to 2013, it was kind of shocking at times the decline from the last time I would talk to her until the next. The good news is she’s now back with my dad, grammy, grampa and her sister Wendy.
I will always appreciate that my mom treated all of us kids as individuals. Being born a twin you can often get lumped together as a pair with everything that you do. But I can remember “date nights” with mom where she would take just me out to dinner. I also remember her letting me control the tape deck in the car so that I could play Iron Maiden, Overkill, Live or some other music that I know she had no desire to listen to.
After college, when I was the only one left living at home, mom would often call me and ask me to start something for dinner (building my skills for when I met Mia) or if I wanted to go out to eat with her if dad was working late that night.
I remember her waiting in the car while Paul and I were in Babe Ruth baseball practices, watching numerous soccer games or track meets. Even coming to bike races and trying to pick us out as we whizzed around in circles.
The only times I remember my mom losing her composure was when one of her children was hurt…..for some reason it seemed to be Chip quite a few times……like the time he split his head open while waterskiing (I think we can blame dad on that one) or the (in)famous late night burst blood vessel at the back of his mouth about a week after getting his tonsils out. I was the one driving us to the emergency room and if I remember I only had my license for a couple months at that point and was asking mom if I should stop for the traffic lights (it was like 1:45 AM). There was Paul splitting his chin open during football camp or Steve almost cutting his thumb off (I only slightly exaggerate) with a chainsaw. I definitely remember my mom taking me into her office the morning after my first really nasty bike racing crash and getting me some larger sheets of Tegaderm since the over-the-counter stuff only came in tiny 2×4 inch strips.
You can also probably thank our sarcastic streak on the Palmer side of the family. Mom didn’t display her ability that often but looking at my Aunts and Uncle it’s no doubt that it came from the Palmers and not the Rhodes side.
One of the things that I really think I appreciate about both my parents was their approach to letting us screw up and take risks growing up. We had run of the neighborhood as kids and even as teens they would let us take off all day on snowmobiles or the quads and then eventually bike rides. As long as we were back when we said we would be all was good.
On a more individual level I think my teetotaler life choice comes from never really seeing my mom drink all that often. I know she enjoyed a rum & coke a couple times a year and maybe a glass of wine but growing up I don’t really ever recall my mom drinking. Her love for reading is another one I inherited too, like her I can just sit down and lose myself in a book.
I miss you Mom! I am glad your suffering is done though. Most importantly though is I love you and thank you for being the best!