The past week has been an emotional rollercoaster for me. December has been traditionally been a difficult month for me. Yesterday I made several rash decisions that could have a negative impact on my role as a writer. Today I am trying to take those decisions back. Those decisions spawn from the woman pictured below. That’s my mother and yes, the blonde haired stern child is me. For those that have asked if I have always been so serious the photo proves that.
Today, December 2nd, marks what would’ve been my mother’s 70th birthday were she alive today. She passed away March 6, 2004 from diabetes related heart disease. Her name was Linda and she was 62 years old.
I was dressing for my second job at our local library when I received the call that she was in the hospital and that she wasn’t expected to make it.
The hospital she was in was five minutes away and as I drove to her side, I was convinced that everything would be okay. I was wrong. I went to the desk and asked what room she was in. The nurse working the station called for the head nurse and even then I had no idea how bad it was. Right from the off the head nurse took my hand in both of hers and expressed her sympathy for my loss. I didn’t understand what she was telling me at the time and I was certain that she had the wrong McKinney.
Even when the nurse led me into the room I couldn’t believe what my eyes were telling me. She had passed away two hours before I arrived. I never got the chance to tell my mother that I love her and to say I’m sorry for all the things I put her through. I wasn’t a rotten son but I was in and out of trouble more than we both would’ve liked. Even to this day I lament the fact that I never called her as much as I should have or spent more time with her. I stupidly assumed that she would always be there. In a way, she still is but it’s not the same. What would you do for just one more moment? Personally, I’d give almost anything for just five minutes with her, just to say, “I love you, Mom” and to hug her.
She wasn’t a saint by any stretch of the imagination. We left a lot of unanswered questions between us and that’s something I’m still dealing with. She made a lot of hard choices in her life, choices that only a few parents have had to make. Still, I miss her.
Another reason December is a difficult month for my family is because on December 15, 2007 we lost Tabitha’s father, Gerald Ramsey, to Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. He was 82 years old. Tabitha was very close to her father and really tried to make the most of the time she had with him.
Progressive Supranuclear Palsy was described as the brain shutting down piece by piece. The effects of it are difficult to watch in someone you don’t know go through and excruciating to witness happen to someone you love.
In the end of Gerald’s life he was not able to do most things and would hold extended conversations with people we couldn’t see. For us the other end of the discussion was nonexistent but to him they were as really as the keyboard I type on, but at least he still knew where he was and who we were. His last two weeks were spent in a coma slowly slipping to the other side. Those of you that have read Dog World have met Gerald. He was the reporter in the middle of the Battle of Huxton, Colorado and like his character, he would push forward even in the worst circumstances.
No daughter loved a father as much as Tab did him and as hard as it was to hold his hand as he passed away, she’s grateful to have done that when it happened. Gerald’s last week of life was spent in a coma and it was the most painful first hand experience I’ve ever witnessed people go through.
We miss them both very much and not a day goes by that we don’t think of them. We remember them, more so in this month of joyous celebration. We try to stay focused on the love, warmth, and happiness they gave us though we end up missing them more often than not.
Hug your loved ones today, if you haven’t already. Call them up and just say those three words or visit them and let them know how much you care. Every moment is precious and irreplaceable.