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Learning From The Best
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My mom passed away on April 12.

There’s really no gentle way to get into a topic like that.

She had been hospitalized for a couple of weeks and gotten through that episode but was still weak. So she was transferred to a rehabilitation facility to get her strength back in order to go home.

But, at 84, and with a series of health issues over the past few years, she just could never get back.

My daughter Ally and I had long been planning a trip east for Mother’s Day this year and every time I talked to my mom she would ask if we were still planning to come. Yes, I would assure her, we were coming to celebrate Mother’s Day with her. When she was transferred to the convalescent home/rehab center I was able to visit with her via phone and let her know we had our tickets; we would be there.

My sister, also here on the West Coast, was going a little sooner, with her trip planned for a two-week stay in mid-April.

So now instead of going to visit my mom for Mother’s Day, we will be in New York for her memorial service.

She passed peacefully on a Friday night; my sister was flying out that next Tuesday. She has been able to extend her stay and is helping my dad get things ready for the memorial. My brother and sister-in-law, who live not too far from my parents, have been there all along, assisting in every way possible.

Loss is a part of life; it’s easy to say that but a lot harder to accept it.

This past weekend was also our Relay For Life event and, ironically, the first year that it has not run the traditional 24 hours.

Ironic, because every year when I was on the track at 4:30 a.m. walking laps and getting ready for the early morning wake-up events for the teams, I would call my mom. It would be 7:30 a.m. in New York and she would usually be brewing coffee or getting Sunday morning breakfast together. We would visit while I circled the track and I would fill her in on how Relay went, how much money we raised, what some of the best moments were, etc.

This year, there was no 4:30 a.m. phone call. Even if we had been out there for 24, I wouldn’t have been able to make that call.

When I think of my mom, one of the words that comes immediately to mind is strength.

She didn’t even stand five feet tall and barely weighed 100 pounds – maybe she got as high as 115 when pregnant – but she wasn’t someone you wanted to mess with.

She raised three kids, kept a household operating efficiently, served as my dad’s secretary when he had his own mason contracting business, was involved in the fire department auxiliary and several organizations at our church – plus handled the bulk of the canning and preserving of the fruits and vegetables grown in our garden. And dinner was always a family affair, all five of us around the table, sharing that time together.

Mom never sat still for long and both she and my dad always seemed to be doing something to benefit others.

You also knew when she was mad because she would use your full name when summoning you. I think a lot of moms probably do that; when I say ‘Allison Leigh’ in a specific tone of voice, my daughter knows she’s in trouble.

We would always laugh when trying to take photos because she would invariably be talking every time the picture was taken. Directing this person to move there, this one to smile a little more; you had to take several just to catch one with her smiling, not talking.

She loved Dairy Queen Dilly-Bars, could run rings around you playing Yahtzee, and enjoyed a good jigsaw puzzle.

She and my dad would have celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary in June and they taught my sister, brother and I the true meaning of family, respect, selflessness and commitment. We were blessed.

I love you, mom.


Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.