Anyone who knew her would say that she was an amazing woman. I was blessed to have her as my mom.
She was born near Moline, Illinois. She was, I believe, the middle child of five. Two older brothers, and a younger sister and brother. She graduated high school, then moved to Chicago to study nursing. She finished school there, looking forward to being a surgical scrub nurse. Something changed her mind, and she chose obstetrics instead. Like my mother, she migrated to Los Angeles, spent a year at Childrens' Hospital in Hollywood to get her California license. She went to work at St. Vincent's, staying there until the closed the O.B. department at the end of the baby boom in 1966. She took a job at St. Anne's Maternity hospital, after working for a month in I.C.U. She didn't like losing patients. She told me that they had only lost four during her time a St. Vincent's.
She met my mother at a professional women's club. After Gladys and dad got married, and Gladys became pregnant with the twins, she introduced them to a doctor, and off we went. It did not turn out well. Gladys developed pre-eclampsia, and was, by the time Lane and I were born, unable to clot blood. She and my brother both died as a result of complications.
Martha was in the delivery room when we were born. After I was able to go home ( after a month in an oxygen tent), she started to help dad and his housekeeper take care of me. One thing lead to another, and they decided to get married. They decided to marry in Montana, at the same ceremony where my grandparents were renewing their vows to celebrate their 50th anniversary. It did not turn out well. A couple of days after the wedding, we headed out for Moline, to see her parents. Somewhere in Nebraska, a tire blew out, the car rolled, and dad was killed.
After she and I returned to L.A., she resumed her job as St. Vincent's. Her parents moved out to stay with us, to help care for me. She went through the process of adopting me, which included getting my aunt to sign off, since she was still my guardian according to dad's will.
And then she raised me. We were by no means well off, but we had a warm, happy, safe place to live. We went on day trips and weekend trips and three "great loop" trips through the U.S. She made sure I did well in school. There was never a doubt that I was going to college. She nursed me thru the measles, mumps and chicken pox, took me to swim practice (I remember her sitting in the gallery, reading), and was there for me whenever I needed.
She helped deliver her granddaughter, whom she loved dearly.
She developed polymyositis, a muscle wasting disease. Treatment with steroids left her a diabetic, and treatment with morphine for pain from diverticulitis left her in and out of clarity and consciousness in her last three weeks. The last time I saw "her" was on a Tuesday evening. It seemed that she needed to know it was OK to go, and so I told her. By Wednesday evening, she was unresponsive to the environment, and she slipped away late Friday evening.
A few weeks later, I had a dream with her. She told me that everything would be OK. My experience of that dream was unlike my experience of every other dream I've ever had. My personal belief is that I had an actual conversation with her. could I prove it? Of course not. But that's what I think it was.
|Mom and me, 1952|
So. Happy Birthday, mom!
(More photos at the Tumblr page, up top.)