Today would have been my mother's birthday, but she has been gone over 21 years now. My mother passed away from scleroderma at the age of 46 – after battling the disease over 20 years. Her name was Linda Lee and she was a funny, charismatic person who was sometimes very tough on me, probably for my own good.
My mother was a twin and her and Auntie Sherri looked nothing alike. My mother had light blue eyes and blond hair, while my aunt has dark eyes, with very dark hair. The twins were the youngest of the children in their family of five kids, but my mom was always considered the "baby" of the bunch. (I never understood how, although 10 minutes apart, she was considered the baby). The twins dressed alike until they got married, six months apart, and never lived away from each other their whole lives.
When they first were married, we lived in an apartment complex next door to each other in Euclid. Then we moved to a duplex and eventually they bought houses next door to each other. Sometimes they would not talk for weeks on end over some nonsense issue, but they always eventually reconciled. My mother became ill when she was in her 20s. I was 6 years old and I remember clearly the first time I realized she was really sick. We were at Cain Park walking down the stairs and my mother fell down and she was sitting on a stair not able to lift herself up. I tried to lift her to no avail, so I ran down to the basketball courts and asked a couple of men to help me lift her. They actually took her to the car and helped her inside. They diagnosed her with arthritis, but then a few years later found out she had scleroderma.
My parents had a great marriage, even though they fought a lot. My dad would always be holding my mother's hand, kissing her all the time. Mom did not work, so she cooked, cleaned, shopped and took care of us three girls. My mother was in the hospital a lot when we were little, and it was very hard on my dad. My grandmother tried to help, but unfortunately, usually made things harder for us girls. My mother started teaching me how to cook when I was seven, so when she was sick she knew I could handle dinners. She also taught me how to do laundry, clean the house and wash dishes. She always thought she was going to die very young and wanted to make sure I could take care of my dad and sisters.
My mother had a wonderful sense of humor; she joked around a lot and told her little jokes. If we had a pimple my mother would say, "zit face, zit face, don't be blue, Frankenstein was ugly too." LOL. My mom had a lot of common sense, but she was terrible with finances, and never balanced her checkbook or saved any money. My mom loved to dance and sing and she would often sing to us when we were little. One of her favorites was "You are My Sunshine." Click here: Doris Day - You Are My Sunshine - YouTube
My parents never had much money, my dad worked a lot but he had to pay 20 percent of my mom's hospital and medical bills, which obviously were a lot of money. My mother taught me how to look at the ads of each different grocery store and find the bargains, and of course how to use coupons. She was a very practical person in some respects, but in other ways very generous and frivolous. I think I am a lot like her in that way, swinging from the practical to the frivolous. Mom said, "live like you have it baby, because life is short." How true those words were for her and my dad.
My mother was so happy when my daughter Jennifer was born when she was only 39; she loved watching and playing with my girls who are three years apart. I was still in college and I would drop the girls off to my mom two mornings a week. She loved to watch them. Mom bought the girls a few sets of clothes that she kept at her house, this way when they walked in the door she would change them into "play clothes" so they could get as dirty as they wanted. She always bathed them and put them back into their "real clothes" before I came back to pick them up.
On Christmas Day of 1989, my mom became sick and was admitted to the hospital. She only went home for one week until the day she died on May 23, 1990. When you have scleroderma, it affects your circulation and first my mother lost her toe, then her foot, then her leg- from gangrene. We celebrated her last Mother's Day in the hospital atrium and then she came home for a week without her leg. My mother cried when I told her I was pregnant that May (with my son) and told me that she would never live to see the baby.
The last time I saw my mother awake was at her house a few hours before she died. I had my middle daughter Jessica with me who was only 3 and I spent the day with her, she was in a hospital bed in the living room and she kept her leg carefully covered so Jessica could not see it and become upset. I made her a cup of coffee before I left, she seemed to be breathing funny, but I was too dense (26 years old) to realize that she had pneumonia.
Before I left, my mom hugged me and hugged me for so long... That night she was rushed to the hospital. I spent the night at the ICU, but being pregnant, I went home to rest at 7 a.m. I laid down for a few minutes and fell asleep, and my mother came to me in a dream to say goodbye and that she loved me. I woke up crying and immediately knew she had died. I listened to my answering machine downstairs and heard the message from my sister saying mom had passed away. I went back to the hospital, to say a final goodbye, but I always felt she did that in my dream.
My son was born premature a few months later and I was shocked when he was about 2 months old and home from the hospital that a package arrived for my girls from my mom. She had told me she had bought them some dolls for Christmas, literally a year before, and they had arrived. The weird thing was, they were both boy dolls – and called "Preemie" dolls, for those siblings who had premature brother's. My mother has been gone for 21 years, but I still miss her and want my "mommy" when I am upset. It does not matter how old you are or how long your mother is gone, you will always miss her when she is gone. Happy Birthday Mom, I really miss you!