Today’s post isn’t about Kel – he is doing ok and the next round starts tomorrow. I will post about how he is doing all week, I promise.
Today is exactly one year since my mother passed away – somewhere between 7 and 8pm PCT. This is a rambling remembrance of Dena Sharon Baker David, born 7/31/49: wife, mother, and friend to all.
My mother was many things in her life. She was a student, a teacher, a tutor, and I am sure many more that I do not know. After she passed away I found her diary from 1966-1968-ish, so I can add that she was also a boy crazy teenager then. It is kind of fun to read actually – and on the last page she lists meeting my father on 10/11/68 at a Brandeis Mixer. Dad, it looks like you won her heart over a whole host of other boys – I counted at least 12 or 13.
Mom could make a friend of anyone she met, and, to my frequent embarrassment, she would try to do so wherever we were. If we were in a line at the supermarket – she would strike up a conversation with anyone within ear shot. At a gas station 1000 miles from anyone we knew? There she was, talking again and making everyone feel like they had been friends forever. I was always embarrassed by my ‘nosy’ mother growing up, but I saw later in life how she wasn’t being nosy (ok, well, sometimes she was), she just loved people and sharing stories. Mom was quite the story teller too, and talented with making real life into a tall tale.
Although she had two kids born to her, she had far more than just Jon and I that considered her a mother. She lent an unjudging ear to any in need, a house to crash in when needed, and a safe haven for all. Long after Jon and I had left the house and even started our own families, she would keep in touch with her other ‘kids’ and keep track of how her extended family was doing. She knew what was going on with many of my former friends better than I did.
My mother wasn’t perfect, as none of us are. She had her downfalls too – I already mentioned the embarrassment she caused her daughter as she would talk to all. She was also a terrible singer. I mean terrible. Ok, she could sing one note alright, and as long as the song was monotone in that one note she wouldn’t hurt your ears … But she tried. And I think if it wasn’t for my laughing at her, she would have tried more. For some reason, David LOVED hearing Nana sing. Tone deaf and off key, his favorite song was ‘Wheels on the bus’. She could never remember the words to songs either – so imagine an off key, words wrong, rendition of … hmmm, anything really. But David loved her to sing, and when she forgot the words, she would just be creative. I think I mentioned the ‘Porn’ on the bus already. But she tried. And for her kids, or her grandkids, or her friends, or her husband, she would never stop trying. Not just singing, but anything we needed – she was there.
I can’t believe it has been a year already that she is gone. She and I talked everyday, and I miss that. I miss my mommy when I am sick, and I miss her when I could use some venting about parenting, and I miss her kvetching that I do too much and need a break, and I miss hearing her and seeing her and hugging her and kissing her. She was only 60 years old when she died – old enough to live a good life, but far too young for it to end.
It was David’s birthday when she was diagnosed with stage 4 (i.e. metastasized and aggressive) endometrial cancer. A day of celebration here in Tucson, until Dad finally reached me. Even though she only had a prognosis of a few months, mom lived for 21 months. And the majority of it was good. She laughed a lot, cried a lot, and got to love a lot. David and Danelle and Steven got to spend time with their grandmother, and I am so grateful that David got to know and adore her. He may not remember later in life, but I will.
And we with her on that fateful day in January. Family and friends made it in from far and wide. Mom waited until Jon came in, and even in her delirium she recognized him and raised her hand to hold his. And then she waited until Jon and Dad and Kel and David and I left to grab some dinner. While Martha and Pookie stayed with her, she slipped away. Her pain taken away, and her memories with us forever, Dena Sharon Baker David was gone from this world.
We will love you always mom.