On Death, Dying…and Living

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As many of you know, I lost my mom after a sudden, fast-moving illness. While attempting the return to normalcy, I thought perhaps a recollection (another list) might help start the healing. Here are a few words of wisdom from the past month:

  1. While one of the most difficult jobs I ever had to do, if you have the opportunity to be present with a parent and support his or her journey to the next life, make the effort to accept this bittersweet gift.
  2. Share your final wishes with loved ones, put it in writing or have that important conversation! We were blessed with clear guidelines to follow Mom’s wishes, including medical needs, funeral arrangements, and other final requests.  Sharing your wishes reduces the burden on loved ones, eliminating the second guessing and possible arguments.
  3. I was touched by the random acts of kindness in the hospital: The nurse who stole pillows from spare rooms for me, another nurse who spent extra time on her shift the morning we removed the vent, washing Mom’s hair, putting on fresh clothes, doing all she could to help in the difficult situation, and a friend with massage training, spending almost an hour massaging Mom’s hands, trying to relieve the severe edema.
  4. There were so many acts of kindness afterward: The random stranger who purchased my breakfast in Hillsdale, coffee mugs for all the kids from the woman who ran Mom’s favorite breakfast joint, the many visits, cards, phone calls, hugs…
  5. While I only teach part-time, I was touched by the helpful response and care from co-workers at the college. Working with individuals who treat you like family is a priceless perk!

June Roche was a kind, intelligent, and cheerful woman. She endured many trials throughout her life from growing up in poverty, having to delay her high school graduation for a year so she could help support her family, to enduring a national scandal. However, she also experienced a grand adventure through her hard work and dedication to her family and the college, earning her Bachelor’s Degree in only two years, traveling around the world, hosting world leaders, influencing young minds, and helping promote quality education in America.

Throughout this adventure, Mom also never thought herself above others. If she saw someone in need, she attempted to help. I will always remember the lessons modeled through Mom’s example: respect everyone, help those in need, and remember the power of kindness and grace when solving problems.

Thanks for reading!

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