I lost my 79-year-old mom on Tuesday, December 11, after a short but severe illness. Because I've shared so many other aspects of my life with my friends in the Blogosphere, I wanted to share this very sad part of my life with you too, give you a few little details about my sweet Mom, and then let you know (again) how wonderful Southwest Airlines is.
My Mom, Dorothy, was born in Ft. Worth in September of 1928. She lived through the Great Depression, which helped give her a sense of incredible frugality. Until the very end of her life, if there were three green beans left after dinner, they'd go into a plastic butter tub in the refrigerator, and would be served to unsuspecting family members on "Mustgo" night–when everything that "must go" from the refrigerator had to be eaten before it spoiled. I can happily report that Mom never once caused a case of food poisoning... at least none that we were legally informed of.
During High School in Ft. Worth, Mom met the man she described as the "best looking Naval enlistee she'd ever seen." They instantly realized they were soul mates, and of course, he would become my Dad. Soon, though, World War II separated them, and while my eventual Dad visited exotic ports-of-call like Shanghai, Manila and Honolulu, my Mom dipped ice cream at the Dolly Madison Ice Cream Shop in downtown Ft. Worth, put up with rationing, and took care of her brother and sister (my Uncle Doc and Aunt Louise). Dad may have defeated the Axis... but Mom defended the home front by protecting and supporting her family. And she did it well.
When he came back in 1946, Mom and Dad married, and for more than a decade or so his job took them all over the state of Texas. They lived in Galveston, a block from the beach, close enough to the Gulf to hear the surf at night (and, according to Mom, to create a dusting nightmare due to the sea salt!). They spent time in Beaumont, where they bought a large boat which Dad named the "Dotsy Girl" after my Mom. On its maiden voyage, they were caught in a tropical thunderstorm and very nearly died. But, eventually, they perfected their seamanship skills and subsequently enjoyed many an hour on that boat.
They became parents when I arrived on the scene in 1958 (even as a premie, I qualified as "portly!"), followed by the arrival of my brother in 1962. They were GREAT parents, totally involved in every aspect of our lives, from my brother's baseball and football activities to my academics. They were the "fun" parents in the neighborhood. Even when my brother's friends, or mine, were mad at us, our friends would still come down to our house just to hang out with my parents–they'd just ignore my brother or me. It used to drive us crazy!
Eventually, after my brother I grew up and got married, Mom and Dad gained a new title in 1984–"grandparent"–when my son was born (he's Officer Owen, whom I've written about here on the Blog). True to form, they relished and excelled in the role of grandparenthood–they were able to spoil my kid rotten, then send him home with me at night. I don't think they ever missed a t-ball, soccer, or "Pop Warner" football game that he ever played. He was–and will evermore be–their "Little Buddy."
When Mom lost her soulmate to a car wreck in October of 1991, she drew on that incredible self-reliance she learned growing up in the Depression. Dad's death knocked her back, but it didn't knock her down. She grieved, of course, like we all did, but after a while she picked herself up–dusted herself off–and got on with the business of living. And her strength helped the rest of us carry on. She remained in the home she and Dad had shared (and the one in which my brother and I grew up in), took care of the yardwork and gardening herself until just the past six months or so, and generally kept herself busy.
However, eventually, cardiac, pulmonary, and renal disease dug a hole the rest of her body couldn't climb out of, and she left us on December 11th–and on a dark and foggy Tuesday morning, as her vitals were crashing, she kept telling the nurses she needed to "get out of this bed so I can go see my husband." Somehow, subject to whatever theology works for you, Mom was telling them, and us, that she was going to see her soulmate, my Dad. And with all my heart, I believe she did.
At Mom's "Refuneral" (we call them that because my son, when he was a kid, said he saw the same people at Reunions and Funerals, so they must be the "same, same, same!"), there were over 100 people. Over twenty of those were my Southwest Airlines Family, many of which had never even met my Mom (although each of them had sure heard stories!!!). That's the kind of support this incredible Company gives its Employees. Six flower sprays or plants were from Southwest Airlines, and when we got home from the burial, the Schedule Planning Department had made sure we had more than enough food for the aprÃƒ¨s-burial dinner. And the dinner was lovely--one Mom would have loved!
There are several points I hoped to make in this blog post. One–my Mom was one feisty, steely, funny woman. Two–my Mom loved my Dad, she loved her boys, and she loved the rest of her family. And we loved her.
Three–next to being a member of my amazing biological family, being a member of the Southwest Airlines Family is one of the biggest blessings in my life. I can't name another Company that supports its Employees during times of trouble on such a personal level. My Mom LUVed Southwest, and my Southwest Family–and they have returned that LUV many-fold.
And the final pointÃ¢â‚¬¦..we'll miss you, Mom. Christmas this year will be a very different animal without you. But all of your Family will remember and love youÃ¢â‚¬¦forever. Tell Dad we all say hi!