Obituary Revisited: My First Motherless Mother’s Day

She was always the life of the party. She made life worth celebrating.

She was always the life of the party. She made life worth celebrating.

As I approach my first motherless Mother’s Day, I feel compelled to rewrite my mom’s obituary. When my exquisite, brilliant mom died six months ago, I was numb with overwhelming and debilitating grief. I had so much to do to say goodbye to the woman who gave me life. It was all about the funeral arrangements, the tributes, the flowers, the logistical planning. It was nonstop. When it came time to place the obituary in the newspaper, I published the typical announcement with a few personal touches. I immediately regretted that decision. I wasn’t emotionally capable of writing a proper obituary for my mom.

It’s my Mother’s Day gift to all mothers to introduce you to the one who truly got motherhood right.

Michele Ann Goldman, age 64, passed away on November 8, 2013, after a valiant 11 year fight with ovarian cancer. According to statistics, she should have succumbed long before then but her hopeful heart, unbreakable spirit, and sheer will to live repeatedly beat rogue cancer cells into submission. Doctors credit Michele’s tenacity more than the countless chemotherapy treatments, operations, and drugs she endured for her longevity. She was a deeply devoted mom, grandmother, and friend who desperately wanted to be here.

Michele was born on September 7, 1949 in Newburgh, New York. Her childhood was exceptionally difficult but equipped her with survival skills, remarkable resilience, and a true sense of self that would serve her well in life. Michele’s professional career included achievements in retail and in paralegal work, but her real contribution to the world was not measured in dollars and cents. She was gardener and landscaper extraordinaire, a gourmet chef, an avid bird watcher who could identify every wing, beak, and chirp. She saw the beauty in ugly situations and appreciated the smallest gestures. She volunteered for every field trip and bake sale, seizing all opportunities to be a present and involved parent in her children’s lives. A legendary joke-teller, she demanded an audience wherever she went and had the best fits of laughter. Favorite pastimes included cranking up the music for long drives down remote roads in search of cherished antiques; chasing butterflies; traveling to faraway places—both physically and in her mind; planning surprises; leisurely lunches with her girlfriends; dancing like a dork for a giggle; masterful storytelling; slipping her grandkids cash just because; stopping to help wild turkeys cross the road; and offering hugs to anyone in need. Michele didn’t use her past or her illness as an excuse to be bitter about her present. She overcame. She dealt with hard situations head-on using tremendous strength that far outpowered her 5’1” frame. She radiated joy from the inside. She inspired countless people to choose gratitude despite the obstacles. She ironed her perfectly coordinated outfits and put lipstick on before every chemotherapy treatment, refusing to give into her damned disease, refusing to be defined as a cancer patient.

Throughout her illness, Michele managed to help her daughter through a difficult pregnancy; add her flair for decor to her grandson’s nursery; take her family on an incredible trip to Disney World; travel to Costa Rica to celebrate her adored granddaughter’s birthday; make mosaics to decorate friends’ homes; beautifully set her table for the holidays; bake dozens of types of Christmas cookies; light every candle on the Menorah; and hand-select perfect gifts for everyone she loved. She waited to wrap them until the last minute, but that was part of her charm.

Michele is survived by her daughter, Jodi, who is thankful breathing is involuntary because she often feels like she can’t breathe without her mom. They were the very best of friends who fought and forgave readily (especially working side-by-side in the kitchen), loved fiercely, and remained loyal to each other through the seasons of her life. Her son, Adam, wishes she was still here to be his partner on memorable adventures, to introduce his daughter Charly to new ideas and thinking, and to shower her with affection. Michele’s grandchildren continue to mourn their zany grandmother who always made silly faces and offered ring pops. Her grandson, Alex, often looks up towards the sky and calls for his “best Grandma Mimi.” He vows to slip on his Spider-Man suit and build a super duper web to gently pull her down from Heaven and into his arms again.

I love you.

I love you.

Mom, I will live my life trying to be half as good of a mom as you were, to be half as brave as you were in the face of tremendous adversity that never seemed to relent. I will don an invisible cloak of your wisdom to defend me against hardships, which continue to this day. I will teach my children to appreciate natural beauty, little victories, and the wicked joy of creating a haunted house on Halloween. I bask in the beautiful glow of your spirit; being an extension of you makes me so proud. The indelible mark you made on the core of my being as my mom will never be erased. I will always love you, mommy, and I will always need you to show me the way. I miss you every second of my life. Happy Mother’s Day.

This entry was posted in Family, Kids, Life, Mommy, Mother's Day, ovarian cancer, Parents, Thoughts, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Obituary Revisited: My First Motherless Mother’s Day

  1. Jill says:

    She is no doubt smiling from ear to ear reading this beautiful tribute! Just like your mom, you truly have a way with words!!! XO

  2. amy strasnick says:

    A beautiful tribute to a wonderful mom, grandma,and friend. I miss and think about her everyday.
    Love to you on Mother’s Day.
    Amy

  3. Jen says:

    Tears. This is so beautiful. I’m so sorry for your loss.

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