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Thursday, 31 May 2012

My Mom Was NOT Old!

By Jacklynn Winmill-Lee

As I quickly approached age 60, it was impossible to feel old with a mother around who was going on 93 and still super active. In fact, when we walked together – she using her walker and me my cane for bad knees - I constantly had to call out to her as she'd get so far ahead, "Mom, wait for me!.” She’d just stand there chuckling until I caught up.

Late last winter, Mom had a bad spell and her health started to fail. She started having falls and she stopped going to her social get-togethers. One day, Mom finally admitted she was feeling a bit "off" and that she didn't feel like going out to lunch with her grandson.

This was not Mom!! Mom never stayed home when there were activities to go to - especially when it involved spending time with family!

My sister went into the doctor's with Mom and told him flat out that she was not just another senior to have every ache and pain dismissed because she's OLD. The doctor was rude but finally compared the list of medications he prescribed with the printout from the pharmacy. Lo and behold, there was a pill in Mom's daily batch that didn't belong! It was what was making her so sick!

I had lost my job so over the next couple of months, while she recovered, Mom started staying at my place every weekend and sometimes longer. Spring brought nice warm weather so we would sit outside and enjoy the sunshine. Mom would smile and greet every neighbor that passed by and they soon started coming to join us - young and old alike.

Some evenings there would be quite a number of us congregated all around my door. Everyone brought their own chairs and we all contributed something to snack on or to drink. I had lived there for almost nine years but had never had a conversation with any of them - until Mom happened.

Everyone loved my Mom and she fit right in. They all called her Nana. As many of my neighbors were middle-aged or older and living alone, Mom also gave advice about avoiding loneliness by staying active, socializing and doing what you can to help those less fortunate.

By the middle of May, she started feeling better and her energy level increased so she was raring to get back to her apartment and her independence. Mom was herself again - a 4-foot, 9-inch ball of fire! So home she went.

One day a month later, Mom got up from her computer and called an ambulance to take her to the hospital as she was having terrible chest pains. My sister and I were with her when the doctor told Mom that she probably wouldn't survive the night as she had a massive blood clot in her heart.

Mom said "I'm ready. I've lived a good, long life but I wish I could have made it to 97.” She was 93.

We asked her, "What's so special about 97?"

Mom explained that an aunt in her family was the one who lived the longest and she was 97 when she passed away and Mom had wanted to beat her record. She then smiled and closed her eyes and started humming. Mom was never silent for long and always had a song to sing or hum. It was what brought her comfort throughout her life.

Mom lasted another 24 hours which enabled most of the family to get in to see her including her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren and even her newborn great-great-granddaughter whom she hadn’t yet seen. She was lucid and aware the whole time and made sure to give a piece of sage advice to each one.

This full-of-life, incredible woman left us gently, as she deserved. I can only hope to be half the woman she was, as she was one-of-a-kind. But I will always strive.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


How wonderful to hear such a story and know that it’s true. I feel, however, that yours is more the exception than the rule, but would like to think I’m wrong. Sadly, my experiences with those close to me who have died have been quite the opposite.

Thanks for sharing such an uplifting story of life and death.

What a wonderful role model your mother was for you. Her joy in living was something to admire. Thanks for sharing it.

Jacklynn - Wow!

Yesterday, Lyn told us of her as an elderly 20-year-old cyclist. Today, you described a delightfully young nonagenarian! - Sandy

You were lucky to have such a great Mom and role model and I'm sure she gave you strong genes. Wonderful story.

Thank you for sharing..my Mother died at only 47, I was 20. We had been brought up knowing that her Mother died at 36, diabetes in l929..my Father's family also early departures, his Father 44, my father too, 3 years before my Mother, his Mother only 42, tragic accident..so the dying young and being irish always gave me the feeling I ought to do what I wanted and have good life because it wasn't going to last all that long..Lately, at 7l and healthy, all of a sudden I am being very mindful of what getting older means and never miss a chance to learn how someone I admire has kept so healthy & happy..Lots is written about us and our chances for longevity..I am a l94l model and the oldest of my two sisters, my Brother died of heart failure at 58..he had many warnings, smoked, had the Type A personality, 3 wives, lived life to the fullest in his own way..once he got past 44, I think he thought he had beaten the odds..My sisters are 70 and 62..reasonably healthy I would say..older one still smokes, has diabetes for years, under control she says..young one lives healthier life-style, no smoking, no drinking, no cafeine even...Yikes, that's Spartan in my book, but we always talk about being grateful for our longer lives & I think are pretty sane about it all, especially after our kids are now all grown and on their own..I hope I will be like your Mom and folks will like to be in my company and that I will mature and grow older and wiser and one day, just depart without a lot of fuss..I do think almost daily of how pleased I am with life and how it has all turned out..If I ever had a Bucket List, I wiped it out in my 40s/50s with travel & being carefree and a Nanny of 6..maybe I will get to be a Great Grandmother..I don't press for that since the eldest Grand is only 23, youngest ll..Life is good, still useful to the world and interested in life..always had Elders in my life that seemed to enjoy their years & I hope I will copy their habits..being healthy and independent helps a lot I notice..when I was reading this beautiful piece, I was thinking how much you must miss your Mother..I miss my Mother every day and even more so since I was 47..my Aunts were wonderful about prodding & coaching me to enjoy life & do things that maybe my parents would have loved to do themselves..they weren't at all maudlin about it, and I notice that my sister and I seldom have a long conversation without having some note about how Mama would have loved Obama or some new tv show or our collective grandkids, etc..seems love stays around even when the Loved One leaves the stage..especially loved all the visitors you had that gathered around you and your Mother when she came to live with you..that touched my heart....


My Mom was 9 years younger than yours when she passed away but she was also still very active and fun to be with.

She was a great sports fan and loved the Phillies and the Eagles.

Both teams have done much better since she died and I think it's because she is up there cheering them on.

Weren't we both lucky to have such great Moms?

Lovely story about an inspiring woman. Thanks for sharing her with us.

This makes me realize how much I need to just hang around outside to get to know my neighbors better. I would bet she had a ton of people at her funeral, and that's truly the mark of a successful life. Great story!

What a "feel good" story--makes me wish I'd known her.

My mom is 92 and lives with my 67 year old sister and she too can move faster with her walker than my sister can with her bad knee. Dad, passed at 90 three years ago telling her she wins. She says she wants to get past her mother's mark of 94. The way she is I think we may get to have a 100 party for her; if we're still here.

Thanks for sharing.

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