Chuck O'Leary

In Memoriam G. Janet O'Leary 11/19/25--3/26/97

My mother Janet died on March 26, 1997, of a rare cancer, which metastasized to many sites in her body. The people at the Rehab Center had hopes that she would walk. (She had broken her hip severely, due to cancer there.) We even built a ramp, which Mom never used. (We gave it to neighbors, who use it now.) We brought Mom home, with much help from Hospice. We could never have managed bringing her home without those kind, wonderful people. Mom died two weeks after we brought her home. It would have been devoid of mercy to expect her to live on in her much-diminished state. She lost 50 pounds in her last few months. She simply couldn't eat. At the end, not even Instant Breakfast.

Mom died at about two-thirty A.M., at home. Dad, sleeping in the room next to her, woke to find her gone. We called my sisters and hospice. Then, we both prayed the rosary at her bedside.

Over the last five months, I have been saying goodbye to Mom in various ways. Thank God, there were no words left unsaid, no baggage left unpacked, when Mom was alive. That is truly a blessing.

After Mom died, it bothered me a great deal that I couldn't remember Mom's voice and face from before she became ill. All I had was the hoarse whisper and sunken visage that dominated her last months. Then, one day, after I stopped concentrating on remembering, both Mom's healthy voice and face and laugh came back to me in a snap. What a blessing.

One thing I have done that has helped me a great deal is to write poems. Before Mom's illness, I only wrote one poem. I wrote two while she was ill, and eight since she has died. They are long. An Irishman never knows when to stop. But they help me get out difficult feelings related to losing Mom. She was, and is, a very important person in my life. I have become the unofficial caretaker of the plants on Mom's grave. I go there twice a week or so, tend the plants, leave a fresh bouquet for Mom, and talk with her easily about my life. Sometimes I cry, although less now than before. For a few months, the nights were the hardest imes for me, when I missed her the most.

Now, at this stage, I often think of things that would have made Mom laugh. (She had a great sense of humor.) It feels great to be able to think of Mom without crying. Of course I miss her in many ways. But, the memories now are wonderful to have.

This summer, I have spent every weekend and two weeks vacation with Dad, at the cottage in NH. Dad is doing well. I am too.

Chuck O'Leary

You can send email to Chuck at: [email protected]
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anniversary date 03-06-97
date of post 08-21-97

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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW