Friday, January 24, 2014


Mom left for heaven yesterday morning. I actually think she was already there by the time she took her last breath. A few weeks back when you might remember she said to me "Help me". My response was "I can't help you. It's between you and God". I thought about that a lot. I decided that wasn't exactly true. I could help her. It was my honor and duty as a good daughter to hold her hand and give it over to god when she was ready. So, that is what I did.

I had promised her I would help her get her favorite outfit on, her best jewelry, a scarf and sun glasses and I'd kiss her goodbye as she drove off back over the Golden Gate bridge into the sunset. The opposite way she came when she first arrived over sixty years ago looking to find love, a family and ultimate happiness.

Tuesday night I went over to see her. This time it was different. She was non responsive but still trying to move her arms. Before I left I got the strong desire to finally pick out her clothes that she would be buried in.

Wednesday my cell phone rang before I could call and check in. I saw the call back number and knew it was the caregiver's number. I knew what that meant. I had never received a phone call from her at this time. She told me Mom's breathing was rapid and I had better come over.

I called my Brother and knew it was time to stand vigil. They say hearing is the last sense to leave the body. We honored that theory and tried to respect what we said in her presence but I also knew she had already begun her journey to heaven by the look in her face and lifeless reaction to my holding her hand. At one point Wednesday night when I decided I needed to get a little sleep I actually crawled into Mom's hospital bed and put my hand on her chest so I knew she was still with me. At that point of the night her breathing became very shallow.

Around 6:30 am, the time the caregiver needed to give her some morphine, I knew we were close. Ironically the weekly hospice Aide who had been saying "I probably won't be back" every week was arriving again. I had never met her. She said "hello" but was all about her job; clean Mom up and prepare her for her last hours. As she rushed out of the house probably to attend to another patient (I am not sure how they do this for a profession) I asked her how much time she thought Mom still had? Her response was "maybe until this afternoon or tomorrow". I just nodded and thanked her.

By this time it was 9:00. This is the time Mom would normally be enjoying her cup of black coffee and a danish. I went back in her room to a look at her, and she looked different. Not more than a few minutes later she took her last breaths and was finally on her way to her surprise party in Heaven.

I had tried to prepare myself for this moment, but honestly there is no way to know how it will really feel. On one hand I was finally relieved. It was as if I too took my last breath of carrying this heavy burden. On the other hand I already missed her and I knew my life moving forward would be different. Different in a way I will not discover for some time.

Shawn and my Brother arrived shortly after. They both could not believe she allowed me to see her die. After all those years of being so overprotective, she had finally allowed me to see something really sad and tramatic. They thought it was her way of finally handing over the "control" perhaps?

Shawn called Ty. She was sad but her first response was to know that I was ok. He then personally went to Blake's school and told him. He also processed it all in his own unique way. Chase was the one I was worried about.

A few nights earlier I had finally brought Mom's purse to my house to go through. I found a few very significant things in it. One was a hand written note in her gorgeous cursive on a random envelope about a caregiver she did not see eye to eye with. Another was a Birthday card handwritten to her from a friend at the courthouse that said "Love is greater than candles. And love is what you have". I also found a small thank you card from Chase's Birthday back in March. It read:

"Dear Grandma Virginia. Thank you so much for the money I got for my birthday. I'm going to use it on food probably and if you want, I'll get you something. Hopefully the party at my house was fun and you always are so nice. I want you to know that if you ever are in trouble or need me for something, call me!! Love You!" --- Chase (and his phone number)

I had probably found more than 50 random notes, scrap pieces of paper, cards...etc...throughout her purse with handwritten phone numbers of me, my Brother, Shawn, Linda, Ty and now even Chase. It was clear she was trying to manage her memory without anyone really knowing.

When I arrived home yesterday Chase arrived shortly after. Normally his first words would have been "What are we eating?" but this time he dropped his bags at the door and came straight over to give me the biggest hug I had gotten from him since childhood and he said "I don't know how you did it". That meant more to me than anything.

We decided the best way to end such a sad day was to head over to Half Moon Bay. This was Mom's favorite place to "do lunch". We watched her sunset. It was her first night in heaven. It was spectacular!

As the sun went down it reminded me of her taking her last breaths. Chase turned and said "the sun will rise again tomorrow and we will all be ok". He was right. At that moment, for the first time in over a year, I felt happy. Happy to know Mom was healthy again. Happy to know her next journey was starting and one day we would be together again. Her Wonder Box was finally full!

Thank you everyone for reading our journey and providing me the best therapy I could have ever received. The messages, notes, texts, cards and special ways of telling me you were thinking of me and my family or sharing your own journey was more than I could ever expect. I am finally "on the other side" now, so I will let you know how it all goes. XO


  1. Betsy - Your ability to maintain all that has been going in your life and those of others including your mom's is a gift from God. And for you to find the energy and focus to share your journey with your mom has been a blessing for those graced to read your words. While your mom is with God, she will also always be with you. The best way I understand this is through Grace. With love and friendship, Christopher

  2. Thank you Chris. I will be ok because of people like you who have reached out from different parts of my life and gone out of your way to share some great advice and kind words!

  3. Sweet Bets, It is truly amazing how much strength Gods provides for us when we seem to be in a living hell. I also felt this way with my own Mom. We do persevere and look to brighter days ahead. Your Mom always referred to you as 'MY BETS', and I am sure that being there for her through this journey, she is smiling down from Heaven saying 'THAT'S MY BETS!. Love to all your Family, Chris Orozco