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Mom's Last Trip

Updated: Mar 18, 2023

“What is lovely never dies, but passes into another loveliness, star-dust or sea-foam, flower or winged air.”

—Thomas Bailey Aldrich

My mother, Linda, 79, has had her end of life planned for many years. She always said she wanted to be cremated and taken back to the ocean. I, being the dutiful daughter I am and huge lover of the beach and anything associated with it, happily agreed. I mean, what better way to say goodbye than to toast her with 1 or 10 cocktails, get my tan on, and enjoy the spray of the sea on my sun-kissed face, hopefully, not mingled with her ashes! Though she would take delight to get the last laugh.

Mom and I have for the most part had a very open relationship, talking about everything from sex to relationships to how she wanted to plan her funeral and everything in between. Now that I'm 60 there's not too much we haven't hit on. However, when I was 13 that was not always the case.

I specifically remember sitting at our Singer Sewing Machine working on my shorts for a Home Ec project when she said I need to talk to you. I'm sure time stopped when she pulled up a chair and said you should know some things about SEX. I mumbled ok and couldn't look her in the face, my concentration fully on how to sew these pieces of fabric together, seriously considering running the machine over my fingers, as a needle piercing my skin multiple times would be less painful than anything else that was going to come out of her mouth. She hemmed and hawed around a few awkward minutes talking about my body changes and boys then she started reciting words that mean sex and when she, plain as day, said the mother of all words, I think I blacked out, because the next thing I remember is her asking if I had any other questions. I'd never in my 13 years heard her say the "F word" and I wasn't about to encourage her to continue! What else would she say?? In my embarrassment, I said not really and she, thankfully to all that is holy, walked away.

I didn't want to tell her I already knew everything she said and then some due to my insatiable need to read anything I could get my hands on since the age of 4. For God's sake, she had a library in the basement full of National Geographic, adult books and novels. Any reading material that even alluded to sex I consumed by the time I was 13! I got caught looking at Playboy magazines(I really DID read the articles), reprimanded for taking my dad's little black book full of nudes to secretly peruse in the bathroom, got in trouble for spending too much time with my nose buried in Harlequin romance novels, and shared a bedroom with 2 younger brothers until I was 12. I pretty much thought I knew it all by the time mom tried to impart her wisdom with her potty mouth.

Other than that painfully embarrassing "talk" we have always been pretty forthcoming with each other especially as I neared adulthood, married, and became a mom myself in my 20's. It became apparent how important it would be when she had a stroke in 2006 and I realized I could lose her and didn't have any idea what her final wishes were other than she wanted to be cremated. She has been through 4 strokes now and a myriad of other health concerns, but I have a binder full of her final plans, all her medical information such as the POA and DNR, and personal papers I will need when the time does come.

She lives next door to me now and we discuss her plans occasionally while having drinks with my 32 year old daughter, Victoria, so she knows, too. We assure her we will adhere to her wishes. Mom, not wanting to be any trouble, even had the audacity once to tell us we could put her in any body of water and she'd be fine. Umm, no. We both looked at her like bugs started crawling out of her eyes and told her she wasn't denying us our trip to the beach with her one last time! Crazy old lady.

I have been compiling a draft of her eulogy consisting of all the things Linda I want to say to honor her. My mother, who has been through so much in her life from a young age. My mother, the loving, opinionated, hardworking, crazy lady, that would give you the shirt off her back (or front if she's in a shockingly mischievous mood). My mother, who will get that last trip. But I hope not too soon. I'm not ready yet, to give up having cocktails on her porch, Mom sitting in her blue camp chair, sporting a Colts shirt, cussing the damn dogs, while clutching her Miller Lite can.

That trip Will happen. Just not yet.

Until next time!


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