One year ago, we took a trip to visit my Mom for her 71st birthday in Whittier, Alaska - her home since retiring. We spent 5 days there with nothing to do but hang out and walk around. She made us spaghetti and homemade garlic bread, pasta salad with Prawns, fresh fried Halibut, and made sure we were introduced everyone that crossed our path. She babysat my kids, we had peaceful conversations and even let me clean her kitchen. She told me how she didn’t think she would make it to Christmas, and that she loved having us there.
Shortly after we left, she got really sick. Her lung cancer had spread to her lower spine, and had another stroke. She was not only in an immense amount of pain, but she was mostly immobile on her left side and needed access to oxygen often. She was released from Providence Hospital in Anchorage the week before Thanksgiving so she could say goodbye to her family in Whittier, before returning on a last minute flight back to Minnesota. I nerviously boarded a plane with my Mom and she told me how grateful she was, that she was so happy to go home and see her kids, and grandkids and brothers. She held my hand the entire flight.
After some complications and a long stay at Southdale Hospital, she was moved to hospice at Our Lady of Peace Home in St. Paul. She saw her family, talked about memories, drank all the malts she could, made friends with the nurses, laughed, cried and told everyone she loved them. She joined her sisters and parents in heaven on January 9th, 2022.
Today, would have been her 72nd birthday. Today, and everyday - I'm grateful all of the wisdom she gave me, my voice to speak up, and the courage to keep going when shit gets hard.