I've been putting this day off for about six years now. It was just over six years ago that my wife's mother, RoboMom, was diagnosed with a very rare but mighty nasty form of melanoma in her sinus. I've put this off because there are no feelings quite as tender as those related to the passing of a loved one. I've also put it off because RoboMom has always been a fighter and we chose to believe at various times that she could by heck fight this thing. Maybe even beat it. In the end, though, it seemed all too inevitable that she should ultimately lose this battle.
But not the war. Most definitely not the war.
RoboMom passed quietly into eternity very early in the morning of New Year's Eve. We were blessed (can I use that word in this context?) to have been there. We had been together for one last Christmas as a family. Even Mrs. Woody's brother and his family were visiting from Utah, which meant that the entire family - RoboMom, her kids, and even her former husband - were able to pose for one last family photo. RoboMom is smiling, but she's having to fight to do so.
Not four days later we were back, and then there was no question in anyone's mind. RoboMom's time had come. Everyone accepted it by that time. We began to pray fervently for a quick and sweet release.
I call her RoboMom for the simple reason that this woman was constantly on the go. She was always and forever doing something. Mrs. Woody has been going through photo albums the past several days. She is on a crusade to rescue the photos from the evil grip of those old "magnetic" photo albums with pages and adhesive that literally turn your precious memories into near-colorless gobs of goo. One thing that stood out in so many photos was RoboMom on the move. There she is, building a sun deck with her Dad. Look, now she's travelling to Hawaii with her son-in-law, the Beach Boy. Here she is, painting one last piece of furniture with her granddaughter. Photos of playing with grandkids, baking with grandkids, laying brick at one child's house, painting rooms at another's. Go, go, go. Rest? Hah. No time for rest. Got things to do.
Even now, I'm certain rest is not on her agenda. Isn't there some tile to be laid in my celestial kitchen? Shouldn't we be painting that heavenly mansion before my kids get here? No, I don't know where your hammer is, but I'd look in that cabinet across from the guest room if I were you.
At the memorial yesterday (she absolutely did not want a funeral!) all the right people showed up. All the folks that Mom would have expected to show up were there. Friends of her daughter and son-in-law both from the community and from their vast network of musicians. Family. Loved ones. And those who chose to say "just a few words" all said the same thing: this was a woman who accepted everyone for who they were; especially we few interlopers who married her children. My own words were that we spouses of her children owed her the greatest happiness that we had ever known. We will be eternally grateful.
Her children mostly didn't trust themselves to speak last night. No one blamed them in the slightest.
In the end, the legacy this woman leaves behind is vast, diverse, and wholly undefinable. We are all of us just as different as night and day. Our one thing truly in common is RoboMom. Fortunately, she may have left us for a while, but we can still be together as an extended family and remember everything good and wonderful about her.
Her real name, by the way, is Joy. In our hearts, she will ever be the epitome of that wonderful word.
God bless you, RoboMom.