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By Madder Than Hell (Tea Party Diary)
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My Mom Died Today

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It’s not that this day was unexpected. Daphne was 98 years old after all. I actually thought she’d live to 100. She was in good health and her mind was sharp as a tack but she was ready, she told us often 90 was old enough.

And even though you know this day will come, and you think you’re prepared, you’re really not. No matter how old you are you want your parents in your life. You want their approval, their council and you want to share the special events in your life with them.

My Mom was a beautiful woman and a very talented artist. She wasn’t exactly your warm and fuzzy Mom or Grandma. For a big chunk of our lives she lived in Mexico and we saw her once or twice a year when she visited. One year when Tori was about 7 and Kim was about 12, Mom was coming for a visit and I told the girls to change their cloths because Grandma was coming to see them. They went to change and a few minutes later Tori came out of her room with a puzzled look on her face, she asked, “Have I ever met her?” I laughed and said, “Well, probably not that you’d remember”. I missed not having her in our lives then.

But when she came back to America and settled in Ventura I realized how much I appreciated having her in my life even now. Mom may not have been warm and fuzzy, but she was never dull.

Being an artist, Mom had a laser eye for details. When I was casting she sent me a lock of her hair and thought the makeup/hair people on the series I was working on might be able to make her sideburns she could glue on because she didn’t have hair in front of her ears anymore. But my favorite story is when she called me and told me I should buy an eyebrow pencil for Dr. Dennis because he’d be SO much more handsome with fuller eyebrows. I told her I couldn’t possibly do that. But not to be deterred, Mother made him a lovely card and sent it to him. On one side was a picture of him, on the other side, the same picture with thicker eyebrows. We couldn’t stop laughing.

We talked several times a week by phone. If it was first thing in the morning or dinnertime, I could be sure it was Mom. The dinnertime ones were slightly annoying, but now I miss those calls. She might have heard something Frances Swaggart Show she thought I should know or yet another reason Obama should be impeached. But she always ended with, I love you, and I can’t tell you how much that meant to me.

She was very proud of her children and grandchildren although sometimes we weren’t sure how proud. When Kim was graduating from High School Mom happened to be visiting from Mexico. We took her to a party to see the kids off to their prom. I had made Kim a fabulous pink silk taffeta outfit and she was so pretty. Kim introduced us to her friends parents. This is my Mom, Michael and this is my grandmother, Daphne. Mom whispered to me, does she have to say I’m her grandmother, couldn’t she say I was a friend. She was proud of Kim, she just hated people to know she had an 18 year old granddaughter.

She was very proud that Tori graduated with a science major. She never understood exactly what Tori did at her job but she knew it was scientific and that was impressive. She was so pleased to know Jackson and Hayden were champion Lacrosse players, that Hayden got such good grades and that Jackson won an award for his art. She said they inherited that from her.

And we all know how proud she was when Kim married Dr. Dennis. I’m not sure she remembered the names of the other men in the family after that. At family events at the Macaroni Grill, Mom’s favorite restaurant, she would have a seating chart. Usually she wanted Dennis next to her or across from her. Sadly, the Macaroni Grill is no longer with us either.

During the last years of her life, Mom insisted that any gifts for her had to come from the 99 cent store. Partly because she didn’t need anything and didn’t want us spending money on her but also because she thought the 99 cent store was genius and she wanted us to love it too. She was, in fact, on her way to the 99 cent store, list in hand, when she suffered her stroke. The ER nurse took her list out of her hand when she arrived. The ER nurse said she looked like a model. Dressed beautifully, hair and makeup perfect. When I left the hospital after visiting Mom, I looked across the parking lot and there it was, the 99 cent store.

I’m trying to process what life will be like without her. My mother was a grand dame with strong opinions. She was eccentric to say the least. Life without her won’t be nearly as interesting. Bye, Mom, Love you.


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