Milton and I were still living on Waller Street in The City when my mom called and told me that she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and that it was terminal. If I remember correctly, I went up the first time when she was in the hospital. When I arrived at her room, I tried to be strong but I failed at that and broke down crying on her hospital bed. I felt I should be comforting her but, of course, she was being my mom and comforting me. Her belly was swollen with cancer and she was in a Yakima hospital. Like many patients in the hospital, she did not seem to discern between the nurses aids and the actual Registered Nurses. The oncologist was nice enough and told us there was nothing left to do. I had rented a car in Seattle and had drove over to Yakima from there. I remember it snowing in Snoqualmie Pass and semi-trucks were speeding past me. I was terrified in the white out on the ice but the semi-trucks just seemed to go on instinct or habit. This must have been some time in the winter but I can not remember exactly.
Those last few years get mixed up in my head. I know that Milton and I had visited Mom and George in Yakima once when mom was still healthy. On the first day we arrived, she had a big turkey dinner feast for us. Every day after that, we had leftovers. We were there that time about a week.
I know there as a another time I was up there when I remember Mom having a facelift. I believe that must have been a year or two before she passed away. I think it was that time that she had a long haired wig that came down to the middle of her back and asked me my opinion. For me, I never feel long hair looks good on older women. When she came out of her surgery, she was very sick, vomiting everywhere. She was told not to sleep on her side and so mated a little “bed” or “pallet” as Milton would call it and laid on the floor, watching her while she slept. Ultimately, she was not happy with the results of that surgery and I believe she refused to pay the surgeon.
It must have been some time in July that I received a call from George, obviously distraught, saying that he thought I have better come. I flew up again and rented a car in Seattle again. Mom was now in a convalescent home or skilled nursing facility and George was sleeping on the floor in her room each night. I was staying in their home. Mom knew I was missing work and told me where she had some money stashed if I needed it.
I noticed the carpets had a lot of spots. Mom had been incontinent of urine but rather than using adult diapers, she would just fold up newspapers and put them in her underwear. She was a child of the Great Depression to the end. She was not going to spend money on something she saw as frivolous adult diapers. George’s girls, Barbie and Carol, were flying up and I knew my Mother would not like their seeing all the spots on the carpet so I got some “Resolve” and set to work getting out the stains. By the time Barbie and Carol came, the house was looking pretty good.
I don’t remember how long Barbie and Carol stayed but I don’t think it was long. I was calling Saint Francis regularly to give them updates. Management liked me there and was very supportive throughout this extremely stressful time.
Darlene was living in Yakima by then and was visiting Mom regularly while raising her son, Rocky. She was with her man, Phillipe, at that time and he helped her run the Double D in Toppenish and Larry’s in Yakima.
Mom asked us to contact Jim. She asked about Jim several times while on her deathbed. We called him but he had become quite hateful to my Mother over the years. He refused to come. He refused giving support to any of us, including George, which surprised me since I thought he had some respect for George at least. Jim was a pretty petty person.
On the day that mom passed away, she was in and out of consciousness and pretty snowed by morphine. At some point, she started cheyne stokes respirations. I think it was at this point that I went out to the payphone and called Darlene. When she stopped breathing, I panicked and ran for the nurse even though on an intellectual level, I knew there was no point. George was crying. I sat next to the bed, telling my Mother goodbye and comforting her the best I could. I kept talking to her even though she had quit breathing in case there was any way she could still hear me. At some point, I knew she couldn’t and it was over.
When Darlene arrived, she fainted briefly as soon as she entered the room. I went back out to the pay phone and called Roger.
I needed some time to myself at that point. George told me when and where the funeral would be in Spokane and I left for Seattle. I spent the next night or two over there and then drove to Spokane. It seems like Roger might have come with me in the rental car but can not remember clearly if that was the case.
This was really only the second funeral I had ever attended. The other had been for my dad. My Mom had an open casket and did not look like herself at all. The makeup was all wrong. There was a good number of people there, many of which I did not know. None of us kids wanted to speak since we are all terrified of public speaking. I can’t remember if Jim was at the funeral or not. It seems to me that his wife, Denise, and their kids, Kathy and Deanna, were there.
My biggest concern was the “gathering” after the funeral. I remembered how the Moore side of the family always drank themselves into oblivion. Darlene, Roger and I did not drink alcohol much at all, if ever, by that time in our lives. None of us wanted to deal with drunk people. Thankfully, somebody seemed to get it as there was no alcohol served at this gathering. People were generally supportive. I don’t remember that we stayed long, though.
I had been away from work for weeks. Almost immediately after the funeral, I headed back to Seattle to catch a plane back to San Francisco.
My Mother would be buried on street in the cemetery called “Sylvan Lane.”