October 9, Two Years Ago

It was two years ago today that my mom fell getting into the elevator at Villa Sorrento in Torrance, CA, on her way to breakfast. She broke four ribs. I was driving home from teaching an adult class at a church in Canandaigua, NY, when my old cell phone rang. I pulled over and Rachel told me that Villa Sorrento had just called her with the news. When I got home the cross-country phone calls started.

I already had flight reservations for a few days later, to be with her on her 101st birthday. After getting assurances that I needn’t change the flight plans, I flew out. During that visit, I arranged for her move from the hospital to a nursing facility, which I knew immediately was substandard. The next day I found one that was far better. It was the one that her mother, my grandmother, had lived in during her last days. We got her moved later that day. She was immediately more comfortable, though still in pain, and I was relieved.

But she never recovered from the fall. She was well cared for, but the shock of the fall was never overcome. She died there peacefully on Oct. 26, just nine days after her 101st birthday, which the nursing home celebrated, though she wasn’t in much of a celebrating mood. For the rest of my life Oct. 9-26 will be etched in my heart and mind.

I can’t adequately explain her influence on my life and faith. While I don’t necessarily think about her every single day, I think of her frequently. With the Dodgers doing well in the playoffs, I know I would be on the phone talking  baseball with her. And talking about life and family and politics. She was interested in politics all her years and, with my father, put that interest in me. She was keenly interested in the national election that was a few weeks away.

She was always a Dodgers fan and loved Dodger Dogs. The last time we took her to a game at Dodger Stadium, she couldn’t wait to get her Dodger Dog. She liked the game; she liked the ballpark food even more. That was about 18 years ago, when she was in her 80s. I remember that because my first grandson was there and she was thrilled to see that toddler rooting for the home team and enjoying his first Dodger Dog. (Indeed, my dream World Series, Dodgers vs. Red Sox, could happen this year, though it is far from certain. She would be happy about that, though not fully understanding that I might like the Red Sox as much as I like the Dodgers.)

It is Oct. 9, a beautiful late summer-like day, and I am mindful of this day two years ago. And my heart is filled with gratitude.


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