(This has nothing to do with politics. It is personal tribute to my mother who passed away at the age of 76 from leukemia. Do not feel obligated to read on).
My earliest memories were from the age of around 4 or 5. I recently told my mom to watch the movie called "The Sandlot", as it does a great job of describing what it’s like growing up playing baseball in the San Fernando Valley during the 60’s and 70’s. Times were good. Dr. Lou and Nanny were a big part of our life. As a young kid, a trip to "Fedco" with my grandfather was as good as it gets.
As we reached the 70’s, my mother had remarried. Tracy was added to the mix to even the score at 2 girls and 2 boys. Rick and I became teenagers. We went to school, played ball, hung out in Laguna Beach, surfed, fished, and learned to work. Unfortunately, John Simpson had a bad heart, and we were once again a single parent family.
As the 70’s gave way to the 80’s, Dr. Lou and Nanny celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Tracey was still pretty young, Joanie was on her own. Ricky and I had just started to be on our own. Around this time mom married one the nicest most considerate people I know. John and mom raised Tracey and built a wonderful life for themselves. I continued to struggle along on my own, and when I needed help, mom and John had my back.
As the 80’s were turning into the 90’s. I remember how great mom and Robert were attending to Nanny in her later years. Around this time I introduced Denise to our family during Thanksgiving at Aunt Shirley’s and Uncle Leo’s house. In time Denise and I ran off and were married. Mom had already taken in Andy as her first grandson. Soon we added a second with Josh. Ironically, a few years later we discovered that Denise and I, shared the same anniversary date, November 6th , as mom and John. We hadn’t planned it that way. It’s just one of those quirky things in life that make you wonder. Over the years Denise and mom became great friends. Mom would call, and if I answered, mom would almost immediately ask for Denise.
As the 90’s continued and the new century began, things continued getting better for us all. Kurt and Tracey were married and John and Cain brought the number of grandkids to 4. Joanie and Barry were married somewhere in there, and Ricky and Golina as well. My mom was so proud. All four of our her children were doing well and happy.
One of the yearly highlights for Denise and I is our annual fish party in San Diego. My mother was always there. My San Diego friends quickly grew to love mom. Denise and I often joked that she had a cult following in San Diego. Long after the party ended, we would all stay up late into the night and talk and laugh and have a great time. We talked often of building a "casita" so she could just move in. It was always sad putting mom back on the train and sending her home.
We were all so busy with our lives, but spending time with family was important to her. She made sure that we always got together for holidays and other events. Whether it was an Alaskan vacation, weekend in Palm Desert, or just a family visit, mom always made each occasion special. One event in particular that she took great pride in attending was the art show in Laguna Beach. One of my best memories was celebrating her 75th birthday in Laguna. The entire family was there. Tracey put a great slide show together celebrating her life, and what a great time we all had.
When mom was diagnosed with leukemia, she was so strong. She was determined to fight and win the battle. We are all so proud of how she handled herself, with optimism, courage, and dignity. After this past Thanksgiving, while in the hospital she got real sick. I never thought she was going to leave that hospital. Then amazingly, she got much better and was allowed to come home. Denise and I were planning to come up and see her, and I got sick. So we rescheduled for later in the week. On the day of our visit she called very early in the morning wanting to know when we would be there. She was quite excited. We came up for what was to be our last visit. We went to lunch, kidded around, and talked of future events. She never stopped referring to how glad she was that everyone in the family was doing great. It was Ricky and Golina this, or Tracey and Kurt that, or how much she loved Barry and Joanie, or how proud she was of all the grandkids.
Three days later mom passed away. Deep down I know the time was right. Those chemo drugs do some awful things and a body can only endure so much. I think that in early December while in the hospital, God gave her one last gift – to be able to come home one last time and spend some quality time with friends and family. This was her way of winning of the battle.
My last memories of mom are of her thinking of her family. Keeping the family close was her final wish. She told me this several times over the past year. I will cherish and honor that memory forever.
Thw last thoughts I want to share:
- My mom absolutely loved all of her children and our spouses. She constantly talked of her love for Golina, Kurt, Barry, and Denise. It was a joke around my house who she loved more, Denise (the twit as she called her) or I. I am sure my brothers and sisters have similar stories.
- I can not tell you how proud I am of Tracey, Joanie, Ricky, Denise, and John over these past few years. I thank you so much for being there for our mom. Being physically further away was hard for me. She was always in good hands.
Thank you all so much for being here today to celebrate Bryna’s life.