Monday, September 24, 2012

Our Table

Today I went to The Comfy Cow in Westport Village for the first time since I took Mom there the week before she died.

I took this picture while waiting for my order today of the table where Mom and I sat...Mom in the chair on the right and me in the chair on the left.

I took this picture hoping that no one would notice that I was taking it.

I was thinking that I wish I had known that THAT last trip here on August 1, 2012 was going to be my LAST with Mom.

I wish I had had a more meaningful conversation with Mom that day.  There was no way for me to have known that that would be my last conversation with her.  And I guess she couldn't have really carried a full conversation at that point anyway.

I am thankful though, that I had that final moment (of 'clarity') with her.  We enjoyed one of our favorite things cream, I got to help her walk to the car, and I got to tuck her into her bed one last time, kiss her on her forehead and tell her I loved her.  I remember she told me I was so special and that she loved me.  She had a lot of love in her voice at that moment.  I knew then and still know now how much she loved Dad, Camille, and me.

I wish I could see a picture of Mom and me sitting at this table for the last time instead of the empty chairs.  I would give anything to have that moment back.

My trip to The Comfy Cow was to surprise my Dad with one of his favorite things...a chocolate malt.  Of course I got one for myself.

Time to start making NEW happy memories.  It's all part of healing.

Mom, I miss you everyday.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mom, a message for you from your 9 year old grandson, Wade

Mom, Wade had his 9th birthday four days after you died.  We missed seeing you.  Wade wanted to write this note to you.  

                                       DEAR MARIN

Dear Marin
1. You were smart.
2. You did the scooter races with Dat.
3. Your snacks at the funeral were really really good! :-)
4. You were good at keeping Dat company.
5. I saved this one for the last one YOU WERE REALLY NICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
October 9, 2011
             I miss you a lot.                                                                                                                                                          


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"This Is The Time To Remember" by Billy Joel

Mom loved Billy Joel's poetry and music so this song seemed appropriate for the closing of Mom's memorial. I've also posted this video of some good times. Despite Mom being ill for so many years she really did have a full, rich, good life. Her life is definitely one to remember.
So, click play and take a look at our times to remember with Mom.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Beverly Bromley's Tribute to Mom

This picture is of Mom with Beverly, having lunch apparently.

Beverly Bromley is Mom's youngest sister, by 13 years. Bev was the last to deliver a tribute to Mom at the memorial. I loved Bev's perspective on her life with Mom.

Sisters are the best! I am so lucky to have two of the best sisters in the world. And in our family, there are lots of sisters. There also are brothers, and I’m sure brothers are special, too. But those brothers have great sisters, so for today, I’m just talking about the sisters.

There are also a lot of women here today that are best friends of Marilyn’s, Margaret’s and mine. They are as close to us as any sisters could be and we love them like sisters. So in respect to this lovely chapel and today’s service, I’d like to hear a hearty “AMEN” when I say…Sisters are the Best!

Marilyn was the best sister. Marilyn was a mature looking 13 year old when I was born. She often told the story that when she would carry me as a baby, people would assume she was my mother. And to this day, I never was sure whether she thought that was funny or whether she thought that was really weird.

I remember going with Marilyn on some of her high school dates to the Iroquois Amphitheater to see musicals and driving to the top of the hill to see the city skyline and the “star watchers” parked there. Little did I know that I was the “chaperone” whom my parents made her take so that there was no “hanky panky.” Sisters are the best.

When I entered the first grade at Clark School, Marilyn, Margaret and my parents took me to my first day of school in Ms. Fagenbush’s class room. They both had her in first grade and I felt so proud to have the whole family escort me.

Sisters taught me how to build tents out of card tables and army blankets. They taught me how to do cartwheels and to stand on my head. They took me sled riding. They hid Easter baskets and taught me how to play croquet and badminton on the family farm outside of LaGrange. They taught me how to make fried eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches. They took me to swing at Hogan’s Fountain. After hours at our father’s office in the Starks Building, they would put me in a rolling office chair and run me down the corridors as fast as they could go. Sisters are the best!

And then Harold came along. HUUUMMMM…And then he kept coming – and coming – and coming. What’s up with that? I do know that at least once I told him, “Take your hands off my sister!” AND I MEANT IT.

But I was there “that night” when Mom and Dad were watching the Friday Night Fights on TV and I was in my card table tent. As I peeked out from under the blankets, Harold told my parents that he had asked Marilyn to marry him and she said yes. In texting lingo - OMG!!!

My life with Marilyn changed. I became a junior maid of honor at 10 years old. Very impressive. Funny things stick in my mind. She chose Gorham Chantilly rather than the family tradition of Fairfax. They had a painting of a nude female in their first apartment – shocker! Of course that was Harold’s influence. She hosted the first family holiday dinner outside of our mother’s or grandmother’s at the Greenhill Apartments. I remember it was the most beautiful table setting I had ever seen. She always presented a beautiful dining table. Sisters are the best.

Camille was born and at only 13, Marilyn trusted me with babysitting duties. It was an awesome responsibility but I was thrilled. One night Camille became really fussy with a stuffy nose. I knew that I should rub some sticky stuff on her chest and nose to help relieve the symptoms. I found the jar and slathered the goo on the appropriate places. She was still fussy. When they came home, they noticed that I had covered her with Vaseline rather than menthalatum. She was a slippery little devil. But Marilyn forgave me and let me babysit many more times. Sisters are the best. Sorry Camille.

Anne was born and I babysat more, now at their first home on Westport Terrace. I loved taking care of the girls. Anne loved to be swung around. One day, I carefully put my thumbs in her palm and my fingers around her wrists and slowly pulled up to give her a swing. I pulled her wrist out of joint. I felt so bad, but Marilyn forgave me. Sisters are the best. Sorry Anne.

When I first learned to drive, my favorite place to go to was Marilyn’s house. When I was in college and came home, I would always spend time with Marilyn. She and Hal were COOL! Little did I know that during this period, they were having some hard times. But Marilyn would always say, “Would you like to stay for dinner? We’re having scrambled eggs or we’re having macaroni and cheese.” Like this was the gourmet dinner for the night. It was always great to be with them, and I would return the favor by polishing their copper bottom pots and pans. Sisters are the best.

College and a few years afterward brought ups and downs in my life, but Marilyn always helped me through those times and sometimes acted as the buffer between my parents and me. She was my biggest supporter and I loved her so much for being there for me. Sisters are the best.

Finally I grew up and Marilyn became more than a sister – she became a best friend. Marilyn and Hal’s door was always open, any time.

I could go on and on, but as you have heard, my sister Marilyn helped to create the person I am today. I will treasure her love, her support and her unconditional loyalty to me. She loved Hal, Margaret, her children, her grandchildren and her extended family. She treasured her girlfriends. But my best memories are how much she loved me. Let’s give another resounding AMEN to Sisters are the best!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Lyndsey's Tribute to her Grandmommy

Lyndsey (now 21 years old) was the first grandchild therefore she has always had a special, close relationship with her grandparents, especially her Grandmommy. She wrote a tribute about her Grandmommy that she posted on Facebook. Lyndsey's mom Camille (my sister) read it at Mom's funeral.

I'm not usually one to broadcast things like this on facebook, but this morning the world lost one of the most wonderful ladies I have ever known. My Grandmommy, Marilyn Forrester, passed away this morning.

She fought heart disease, MS, and diabetes for over 30 years, surpassing the doctors expectations by a long shot. A woman who wasn't even supposed to live to see her oldest daughter graduate high school made it all the way to see her oldest grandchild turn 21.

My grandmother always has, and always will be the most inspirational, and badass woman I will ever know, she fought all the way to the end. In her own words "That's what happens when you piss me off, I live for thirty more years.

Friday, September 14, 2012

My Tribute to Mom

I have to say that I am proud that I was able to get through my tribute to Mom at her funeral without tearing up. It was hard but I managed to do it.

My tribute to Mom

While Camille and I were preparing our parents house to sell last year I found a real treasure. It was a journal that Mom kept during the beginning of her heart disease, dated probably somewhere between 1979-1980. In this journal Mom jotted down her thoughts, concerns about her condition, questions for her doctors, notes for Dad. She also wrote funny thoughts that occurred to her. This is a great example of one of those. This note is dated Sunday, August 10th (year not given).

"When I went down to xray for the lung series it was so funny to look around in this very sterile room and see all the many sizes and kinds of catheters hanging from hooks on the wall and in amongst them all was this great green plastic fly swatter. Plus the fact you are laid out on this table and then everyone runs for cover."
If you really know Mom then you can appreciate this observation.

Mom loved her friends so much and being with them always lifted her spirits . Besides Dad and her family I believe that her friendships were one of the contributing factors that helped keep her alive beyond her life expectancy. Because Mom's life expectancy was uncertain at the time; In the same journal I mentioned earlier Mom had written a letter to her friends which I interpreted as a "good-bye" letter which I would like to read to you. I think it still applies to her current friends and to those who were not able to make it to this service today.

"To my wonderful friends. Thank you all who came to dinner. Those of you who could not come were greatly missed by me. These last two years have been full of new experiences for me - what an understatement! But into my life have come a whole new set of friends. Your kindness and friendships have made some of the rough spots easier for me. I can never thank you enough for what you have given me."

I don't think she ever got around to finishing that letter for reasons unknown but I think it says a lot just as it is.

Mom never wanted her illnesses to keep her from being a good mother. No matter how she felt Mom was still a Mom and she knew she had a job to do by teaching Camille and me about...

• Etiquette - who ever heard of a "Bromley" having an informal dining table at Thanksgiving and Christmas? Knives, forks, spoons, and salt and pepper shakers always had to be in just the right spot.
• Mom taught us to sew, iron, make our beds with hospital corners, cook, and bake the traditional cinnamon rolls at Christmas time.
• We learned how to polish all of that silver that she stored in her corner cabinet in the dining room. THAT was a daunting task for us girls.
• Mom taught us how to be mothers ourselves. I can't think of a better role model.
• We learned about sacrifice and keeping a stiff upper lip.
• Mom taught us about strength and always keeping a sense of humor. Mom would always say that "if I don't laugh about it I would go crazy" (or something like that).

Throughout her illness, Mom has always maintained poise, dignity, strength, a sense of adventure, and her wonderful sense of humor.

All our lives Camille and I were fortunate enough to be witness to the bond that our parents had as a married couple. I've never known another couple to have such a deep love as our parents had. They are wonderful role models for what marriage, commitment, and true love really is.

There is so much more that I want to say but just not enough time.

Thank you to all of you for being a part of Mom's life and enriching her entire life, especially her 30+ bonus years. Each of you had a hand it keeping her alive.

Mom, you were such a good Mom. I love you and I will miss you so much.

Not one of the best pictures of me because I am very pregnant with my son here but Mom looks adorable. Before the dementia took over her memory Mom and I were VERY close.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Tribute to Mom, by Janice Fish

Mom had wonderful friends. One of her very special friends, Janice Fish, wrote and read this tribute at Mom's memorial.

A Memorial for Marilyn
by Janice Fish, August 15, 2012

Thank you Hal for the opportunity to speak on Marilyn's behalf.

These four lines summarize for me Marilyn's legacy:

Marilyn ran the race of life as an Olympian and left for us her gold.
Memories with a golden luster that is brilliant.
Memories with rich patina that came from years of friendship
Memories of friendship left in bold streak upon our hearts.

I met Marilyn 47 years ago through a mutual friend, Lola Howard. Together we attended tailoring classes and met in my house in the evenings to practice our newly learned skills and to construct our patterns using the sewing machine. Marilyn was an exquisite seamstress. Marilyn was the perfect model – tall, slender and gorgeous. More stunning than her skills and appearance was her love for her family.

As women do when we gather, we shared stories about our children. In the mid 60s my children, Marian and John , were 3 and less than 1, Lola's son Worth was about 4 ½ and Marilyn's daughter Camille was about 3.

A story from the 60s that stands alone in my mind expressing Marilyn's devotion to Camille began with a request for a tent. Little Worth wanted one too. The moms thought it was a grand idea, and together Marilyn and Lola designed a plan for a tent for the children – an Indian teepee, that would be made with the help of Camille and Worth and decorated with designs created and painted by the children.

I know everyone in the room has at one time helped a child build a tent. What fun – crawling into that little space – separated for all the world. These devoted and talented women had a fabulous plan – just one little snag – when they presented the plan to Camille and Worth the plan was rejected. That was not what the children had in mind. Camille and Worth wanted their tent built under the dining room table. I can hear Marilyn and Lola laughing. I really think they were relieved. They just wanted to be actively involved with their children and present the very best possibilities.

As time passed and Marilyn's second child Anne was born, the family took on running. Hal shared that Marilyn tried to run with them but had to take frequent breaks. Thinking she was just out of shape, she rested and continued.

It was around 1977, 35 years ago, at the age of 40, a very, very young age for most in this room, that Marilyn learned she was not out of shape, just that her heart wasn't up to or into running.

When Marilyn heard from a leading heart specialist that she had maybe a couple of years, she told her friends that the doctor really “pissed” her off. She said she was determined at that point to show him. She would prove him wrong with her longevity. She would successfully finish her race for life. And she did. With the loving support of her sweetheart and life-long partner Hal, her daughters Camille and Anne, her sisters Margaret and Beverly, her caregiver Diane, and you her dear friends, Marilyn turned 2 years into 35 years – celebrating her 75th birthday in late April.

With Marilyn's death we have lost a good friend. In my heart she will always have a seat in the Bristol Grille or Dairy Queen. I will cherish forever the memory of our last DQ cone – just 10 days before her death – and the laughter shared as we lost the race to finish the cones before the cream pooled on our hands and the table.

And, I will forever cherish our departing hug. Her robust spirit, sense of humor and positive lifestyle will forever be an inspiration.

In closing I say to you Hal, Camille, Anne, your families and many friends, yes, Marilyn has won her race for longevity.

Now we carry her gold, her inspiration to live each day to the fullest. We carry the torch of love that Marilyn so sweetly passed on. We will forever smile when we remember her smiling face, and our hearts will be warmed by her love.

Janice Fish

Margaret Bromley's Tribute to Mom

Mom's sister, Margaret Bromley, gave this sweet tribute at Mom's memorial. I love how it gave us a peek into Mom's childhood, adolesence, teen and early adult years. Thank you Aunt Margaret, for everything. I couldn't have made it through all of this over the years without you.

Celebration of Marilyn Bromley Forrester's Life

I first want to thank all of you for coming to Marilyn's Celebration of Life today. However, most of you knew her in her later years, and since she was my 'older' sister, I do believe that I have known her the longest! So come with me down 'memory lane' and enjoy some joyful moments of her earlier years. They will be short but let your imaginations travel with me...

* Catching lightening bugs on a summer's evening and watching their glow through the night...but always letting them go free the next day
* Playing 'Kick the Can' under the streetlight with the neighborhood children on Birchwood Avenue in Crescent Hill
* Walking together the six blocks to Clark School everyday...sometimes through the alleys
* Playing a duet with me at our annual piano recital
* Raking leaves together to the curb and burning them in the fall...before burning was banned
* Sledding with squeals and laughter with our father on No.5 hill at Crescent Hill Golf Course
* Collecting eggs from the hen house at our grandmother's farm
* Climbing together to the top of the silo and feeling that we were 'on top of the world'
* Sharing the thrill of welcoming a new baby sister, Beverly, into our family
* Making and decorating Spritz Christmas cookies with our mother, a tradition that Camille continues to this day
* Getting her driver's license at 16
* Playing the trumpet in Atherton's first marching band and having to wear a band uniform with a skirt as the principal felt it was 'unladylike' to wear pants!
* Double dating with me and going to Kaelin's drive-in for a cheeseburger after a movie
* Learning to make the famous 'Bromley Cinnamon Rolls' that Anne still makes for the annual Bromley Christmas Family dinner
* Going off to college at Venderbilt and getting a telegram from me that Atherton had beaten Male 6-2 (we found the telegram which had been saved with other memorabilia when Marilyn and Hal moved to Dudley Square)
* Meeting and falling in love with Hal
* Getting married on Sept 3, 1960 and starting life together at the Greenhill Apartments with several couples who have remained friends for life
* Welcoming Camille and Anne into their family
* Providing a safe and comfortable haven to all who visited in her home by being the perfect support and hostess

Marilyn loved life and wanted to share happy moments and good times. I hope you have enjoyed sharing them again through these good memories of Marilyn with each of us here today. Again, thank you for coming to her Celebration of Life!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Keep Me in Your Heart, by Warren Zevon

This song was played at Mom's funeral. Such a beautiful song and a beautiful tribute to her.
I love and miss you so much, Mom.

Jim's Tribute to Mom

My brother-in-law, Jim Estes, wrote the perfect, moving tribute to Mom.
Jim works for USA Track and Field and was in London working for the 2012 Summer Olympics when Mom was dying. He was not able to say good-bye to Mom in person before she died but he did an exceptional job, in his writing, at capturing his emotion and the true sense of who Mom was.
Jim was the first to step up to the podium at Mom's memorial to read his beautiful tribute AND Dad's sweet letter to Mom.

We're here today to say good bye to Marilyn Bromley Forrester and to remember and celebrate her life. She was a lady of many talents.

To Hal, she was a wife

To Camille and Anne, she was Mom

To Dave and me, she was the best mother-in-law a man could hope for.

To Emma and Wade, she was "Marin"

To Lyndsey and Nick, she was "Grandmommy"

She was amazing at all of them.

Marilyn faced more medical issues than any one person should ever have to, including Alzheimer's, MS and heart disease and she did it with determination and grace.

Because Marilyn lived for more than 30 years after the FIRST time doctors told her that she didn't have long to live, I'll always see her as the woman who beat them all.

One of the things that always struck me was that when you would ask her how she was doing, she would reply "I can't complain." But I think it was more that she WOULDN'T complain. It was as if she refused to give these illnesses any regard whatsoever. She wouldn't let them keep her from another day with her husband and her family and friends.

Along the way, Hal was by Marilyn's side and watching them over the years taught me a lot about commitment and love. They truly knew that every day was a gift and made the most of every one of them.

Hal asked me today to share with you a letter that he's written to Marilyn:

((see his letter in the prior post titled "Dad's Letter to Mom"))

Over the years, I've had the privilege to see some of the world's greatest athletes perform. I've always admired how they push through pain and adversity but as I sat last week watching some of these athletes, I thought about Marilyn and the fact that pain and adversity was part of her life every day. No time-outs, no rest between events. This was a part of her life all day, every day but again, I don't think she would want us to focus on that, she was simply doing what she needed to do to be there for her family. For that, I admire her.

Though it does hurt terribly to know that she's gone, there is some amount of comfort knowing that she is finally at rest.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Dad's Letter to Mom

Read by my brother-in-law, Jim Estes, at Mom's memorial service.

Dear Marilyn,

Well here we are answering the question “which one of us will die first?” And true to form, you won the argument so now, I have to stand up here and tell all of these people all about you and us.

Many people here didn’t know you when you were young so I have to give them a peek.

We met in November of 1958 on a blind date. You however were not my date. I had just finished basic training at Fort Knox. A guy I met there was engaged to your good friend. We came in town and dropped by his girl friends house to pick her up. You were there also and I figured you were my date. Not so. You were there waiting for your blind date. Bummer. You were beautiful. And I believe we clicked then. We actually didn’t have a date until several months later. You were tall with thin shapely legs in spike heels, and a gorgeous smile.

Finally a group of 5 or 6 couples assembled and we went to the old KT’s. You and I ignored our dates and had eyes only for each other. We ended the evening at Blue Cottage Inn where the Bristol is now.

Our first date was in the Spring of 1959, I wore a seersucker suit. You loved it. We went to a movie on 4th Street. After that you took me to the overlook on Iroquois Hill. Well we married a year later on September 3rd, 1960. We were, I believe the happiest couple in the world.

Then came the kids. Camille first then Anne. Our first house and your entry into local politics. Our 6th class city had its first female councilwoman. At your first meeting the mayor asked you if you “was one of those bra burners”. You said to him, “If I had one on I’d burn it how if that would excite you”.

Then the first of the hard times. Heart disease. Your first open heart surgery. A few months later they had to do it again. And finally, a few years later, a third open heart. You never really recovered. Next came the MS diagnosis. Diabetes followed. You struggled so hard to survive. Your goal was to see the kids grow up, then marry. Then grandchildren. You saw all of that.

Finally our 50th wedding anniversary. Our 52nd would have been next month, September 3rd.
Fifty-two years of fun and struggle. We had a great life together. Those memories will sustain me in the month’s to come.

Mom's Memorial Day

This picture is from the day we met at St. Luke's Chapel to discuss Moms memorial service with the Rev. Georgine Buckwalter (if I remember correctly is was about 2-3 days before the memorial). In this picture are Dad, Camille, and Mom's sisters Margaret Bromley & Beverly Bromley. I took the picture.

The Memorial day came on Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - exactly one week from the day that Mom died. I was overwhelmed by how many people came to the visitation and actually stayed for the memorial service. It truly was standing-room-only.

It was a beautiful day that day.

Surprisingly, I was in a pretty good mood. I knew that I needed to be "on" in order to greet all of Mom's visitors and to be able to make it through MY tribute to her. I did not want to break down at the podium when it was my turn to speak. Dad was not feeling well, still recovering from being sick the day before (that is another story though). Camille, Dad, Aunt Margaret, Beverly, and I greeted people we hadn't seen or heard from in years along with close friends of the family. It was really wonderful to know that Mom and us, as a family, were loved by so many.


Dad chose a lovely urn for Mom's ashes. Mom loved the contemporary style so her urn reflects her taste. We really believe she would have loved its simplicity.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Blue Velvet Drape

Wednesday, August 8, 2012....
David, Emma, Wade, and myself arrived at the hospital (I believe) by 7:00 AM. We walked into Mom's hospital room to see my father, my niece and nephew, my sister, my aunt Margaret, and Mom. Mom was laying in her hospital bed, quiet, peaceful, hands together on her chest. I immediately walked over to her side, sat down in the chair next to her bed, took her hand and cried. Her hand felt cold, her color was gone. I couldn't believe Mom was gone.

Dad was the first person I looked at when I walked into the hospital room. Dad, like everyone else, was crying. I felt such deep sadness for him.

The Hospice nursing staff allowed us our time to be with Mom for the last time until the funeral home people came to pick her up and take her away. It seems like it wasn't any time at all before they arrived. We all had to leave her room to go to the waiting room across the hallway so that there would be enough room for Mom to be moved to a stretcher.

While we were all in the waiting room Camille and I stood by Dad who was sitting down. I remember Dad was rocking back and forth, sobbing, saying he didn't want them to take her. He said he couldn't watch them take her. I had to see it though. I walked out into the hallway and stood with my Aunt Margaret. I had to see Mom being taken away, I wanted to remember every moment. It seemed like an eternity before the funeral home people came out of the room with Mom but they finally did.

I saw the stretcher being rolled out with Mom on it. I couldn't see Mom because she was covered with a pretty blue velvet drape. Under the drape I could see the silhouette of Moms body and her face. I still could not believe that was Mom under that drape.

Down the hall they went with my Mom on that stretcher. That was the last time I ever saw Mom.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sounds Silly but I Never Thought Mom Would Die

August 7, 2012...
I arrived at the hospital around 9:30 PM after my sister had called me to let me know that Mom's condition had worstened. Mom just looked like she was sleeping. She was breathing loudly. Her breathing sounded almost like she was moaning at the same time she was taking a breath only it wasn't really a moan. The sound she was making was undescribable and loud. Mom seemed to be struggling to catch her breath. She was sweating a lot and we could see her heart beating quickly through her hospital gown; pounding really. Her heart would pound so hard that her bed would vibrate. Her body was fighting to stay alive.

Soon the apnea set in. I timed it. She would stop breathing for 30 seconds and everything was silent. I could see her heart pounding even harder and her bed would vibrate. At one point I placed my hand on her chest over her heart to feel it, it was pulsating so fast. After 30 seconds she began gasping for air again and this would last for a little bit longer than 30 seconds then she would stop again.

Dad, Camille, and I would take turns sitting with Mom, holding her hand, cooling her down with a cold, wet washcloth, stroking her arm, her hair, begging her to stop fighting so hard, that it was okay to go. We promised her we'd be okay.

I began to text my husband, David and some friends. I was in a panic. Mom seemed to be struggling for breath and there was nothing we could do. The nurses reassured us that this was all normal when someone dies and that the person is not actually struggling but it didn't make me feel any better.

Soon Mom's two sisters came....Margaret Bromley and Beverly Bromley. Margaret sat with Mom, held her hand. Beverly kept Mom cool with the cold, wet washcloth and would fan her. Both talked to Mom, told Mom how much they loved her. I can't remember everything they said but I'm sure they also said their good-byes.

Mom's caregiver Diane O'Neil was also there. She also comforted Mom. Diane was a wonderful companion for Mom for the last 6-7 years.

My niece and nephew also came, Lyndsey (21) and Nick Estes (15). They would look at their Grandmommy and cry but I don't think they could talk. They both were so very sad.

This went on for hours! Pure agony for all of us!!

I think it was sometime around 3 AM that the gargling sound began when Mom would breathe. I knew exactly what that was. The term for it is the "death rattle". The Hospice nurses would come in to reposition Mom and it would get a little better but not for long. They started really pumping Mom with more Dilaudid and whatever else to keep Mom out of pain. Soon she sounded better and I felt that I could finally go home for a couple of hours to get a little rest. I thought that I had about 4-5 more hours. At about 4:30 AM I told my dad and sister that Mom sounded somewhat stable for now and that I was going to head home for a bit but would be back by 8:00 AM.

I arrived home around 5:00 AM. I looked at the clock when I climbed in bed and it said 5:10 AM. I closed my eyes but couldn't sleep but I did get some rest.

The phone rang at 6:10 AM (one hour later) and it was Camille. All she said was "she's gone". I think all I said was "she is?" then told Camille I was on my way. David sat up, I told him what Camille said and told him that I needed to go. He wouldn't let me go immediately because he said I needed to get my emotions out. I think he was afraid to let me drive at this point. I didn't even cry for the first minute after Camille had called because I was numb and I don't think it really sunk in.

Suddenly it hit me and I mean like a ton of bricks. I don't think I have ever cried that hard in my life. I sat in my bed, in David's arms for a good 10 minutes (at least) and just sobbed. Wade, my 9 year old son, woke up because he heard me. He came in and asked why I was crying. I told him that Marin died. (Marin is the grandmother name my kids gave to Mom) Wade climbed in bed and hugged me too but I don't think he ever cried.
Soon after Wade came in Emma, my 11 year old, came in and asked the same thing. We told her that Marin died. Emma began to cry and also climbed in bed with us.

After a few minutes we all got dressed and headed downtown to the hospital. I called my sister and told her to please not let them take her until I could see her.

((Below is a picture that Dad took of Camille and me with Mom a couple of hours before she died. We didn't know he took it but are glad he did. It was a special moment.))

((I snapped this picture, below, of Camille and Dad sleeping sitting up in the room with Mom. I don't think of these pictures as terrible, morbid moments. I think they are precious moments in our lives.))

((Dad comforting Mom))