Yes, that's an irreverent title for an obituary, but if you knew my mom you'd know why I say it. And, if you've known me very long, you might feel as though you also know my mom. Curious, courageous, engaging, unconventional, and, honestly, a handful at times, she was a frequent topic of conversation.
She'd tell you she was a pilot (bought a plane and learned to fly in her late 50's) and a published author (the distinction being that she was a writer who got paid for it). Married twice, to my dad for 36 years and my step dad Jim for 19 years, she toured as far around the world as they'd go with her.
She'd always dreamed of flying, and as my dad was dying from cancer in his late 50's he talked her into getting a plane and learning to fly it. After he passed, she met a fellow pilot who became my step dad. They went to Alaska several times and slept under the wing of their plane. They also hopped on a freighter to Australia then backpacked across that country and New Zealand. They toured Europe and once drove across the US in the winter so Jim could see the world's largest snowmobile. (He loved to drive. Even after he couldn't see.)
When they weren't traveling they spent summers on an elk preserve in eastern Oregon and winters in an adobe they rebuilt on the border of Mexico.
And when my step dad passed, she took herself on a Mediterranean cruise at the age of 80. Using a third of her remaining cash to do so. Given that wasn't an unusual choice for mom, it took a while for me to catch on that she really wasn't able to make good decisions, versus just not always choosing to do so.
So I pulled her under my wing a bit and helped make sure she was safe and comfortable. Over the past few years she and I spent a lot of time together, she was getting a little fuzzier around the edges thinking wise.
Our big adventures went from a cabaret in Paris in the 70's to a burger and shake at Burger King in Sedro-Woolley. She wasn't having much fun anymore but was a good sport. Healthy as hell, I fully expected her to go to 105 or more. But in the week before Halloween she was taken down by a totally unexpected event: renal failure, possibly caused by large amounts of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory meds used to treat her decaying teeth.
My brother Craig and I got to spend some time with her in the hospital and she was thrilled to see us together. My husband Fred and I were with her at the end. She died at 11:30 PM October 31.
She'd howl if she knew she died the day before the Day of the Dead. She'd also howl to learn that by not living another half hour (12:01 AM November 1) she wouldn't receive her Social Security and military income for October.
It's an awful paradox how a loss like this makes you want one thing more than anything: your mom. I miss her enormously, and always will.
But I am so thankful to have had such a wonderful role model for how to live life the way you want to. When I tell Fred I want to spend a third of our retirement funds on a Mediterranean cruise, mom will feel like she did a great job. Of course, she also thought marrying Fred was the smartest thing I ever did. And knew that he'd never go for the whole shoot-your-wad-on-a-Mediterranean-cruise idea.
So as you embark on your biggest adventure ever just know you left of good memories behind. Happy landings, mom.