At the age of 10, in 1979, my parents moved me and three of my seven siblings from Omaha, Nebraska, to Salem, Oregon. Setting up shop, so to speak, on a farm outside of Salem couldn’t have been easy, especially since it meant my father moved his established trucking business from a densely-populated city into a more rural area. I recall my mother telling me much later that they moved the family to Oregon so that my father was “home more often.” I don’t recall this happening.
I remember growing up with my father being a virtual stranger; he would come home every 2-3 months, if we were lucky, to give my mother somewhat of a respite from caring for four children, literally by herself for months at a time. I can’t imagine what she went through to do this, what she sacrificed, what she set aside of herself most of all.
My mother died of bone, brain and lung cancer on September 13, 2012. The biopsy of the tumors on her lungs showed it was from second-hand smoke. Interestingly, she was a smoker from her late teens until she was in her mid-50s. She quit “cold turkey” one night when she woke and couldn’t breathe, and thought she was dying. She didn’t smoke any more after that late night scare.
My mother suffered greatly as she died, and no amount of convincing would change her mind on imbibing in marijuana to help relieve the pain from her bones breaking and the cancerous lesions growing on her brain. She lived her last days at my sister, DeAnne’s house. I don’t know how DeAnne managed to keep her sanity while at the same time, watching my mother die.
There’s fewer days that I cry over the loss of my mother, my best friend. Most days now, I remember the good times, the funny things that we would do together, the long Sunday morning conversations that we would have, talking about everything and nothing, and then not being able to recall the next Sunday what we spoke of the previous Sunday.