Tag Archives: death of a mother

Gone 9 Years: A Toast to My Mom (Who is Definitely Not Digging My Present Attire)

xmas fam

My mom died nine years ago today, a few weeks shy of her 70th birthday.  Her own mom died at 69 also.  Even though I’m not a chain-smoker (since adolescence, you know, the norm back then) and keep (relatively) healthy, there’s not a doubt in my mind when my own 70th birthday is on my horizon I’ll be holding my breath on the way to that (obviously) momentous milestone.  I hear that’s a pretty profound moment in any child’s life.


69 is way too young.  Especially when you are (relatively) healthy (chain-smoking notwithstanding), still incredibly stylish, newly-retired and just returned from a 1st ever trip to Europe.  Really.  It’s just not fair.


69 is way too early.  Especially when your youngest grandchild is still a toddler and the whole slew of older ones are in the throes of expertly keeping your kids exasperated.  Damn, if you could only see them all now.  All 10 of them.  We were all together this past Christmas and man, your heart would’ve exploded with happiness and pride.  So unfair


69 is way too untimely.  You had finally mastered your flip phone but had barely tried texting.  Of course you’d still be watching Law and Order but I think you’d really like Netflix.


Funny, the things a daughter won’t forget.  When my sister and I had endless babies crying and walls of crayon and strewn cereal and crap everywhere …. you’d gently remind us to comb our hair before our husbands got home from work.  If you were here today you’d definitely be dissing my overalls and oy vey, would have never kept silent during my gal’s Free to Be You and Me unshaven armpits stage.  (I’d get the full blown disappointment; the granddaughter would get the hall pass.  Naturally.)


You made sure we never picked out a funky dish pattern because it was important how food looked on it.  It was also important that the food colors be pleasing to the eye (no carrots and sweet potato together—too much orange!).  Funny, I’ve never had anything but white dishes.  Just another little something that somehow stuck.


I think about all the nuggets of knowledge I gained from you during our not-long-enough time together.  Your little tolerance for self-pity.  Your tenacity to get things done, figure things out, keep moving forward.  My childhood friends still remember you in admiration, still shudder at the memory of your cool exterior and, always, still admit in amusement how nice it was to see you soften throughout the years.  You lived a tough life yet never let a series of unfortunate events define your path.


You taught me dogged determination.  And fierce loyalty.  And unwavering strength.  You showed me how to plow through obstacles and brush aside setbacks because, get over it, it’s not the end of the world.  It’s never as bad as someone else may have.


I miss her all the time but especially in the dog days of summer, when the bell tolls on the anniversary date.  All the memories of all those long days and nights come rushing in and the weight of all the what-might-have-beens is crushing.   The last hot night I spent with her in her home is seared into me.  When she fell on her way to bed and couldn’t lift herself up anymore I knew.  When I couldn’t lift her up all by myself either  I knew.  I held the phone and agonized, pausing before dialing because I knew.  I knew once I entered those digits and that ambulance arrived, my mom would never again step foot in her house again.


She never did.  And I’ve never forgotton the anguish of that decision.  Funny, the things a daughter  won’t forget.


Nine years.  A lifetime ago.  Back before all my kids were (gulp) grown-ups.  Back when I had a 10 year old.  And 12 year old.  And 16 year old.  And 17 year old.


I am no different than anyone else whose heart stays heavy over a lost loved one.  I feel her most days and talk to her more.  Usually just a quick Thanks, Mom when something goes right or a sarcastic Thanks Mom when a kid’s being a smartass.


I was talking with my sister recently and was having a bit of a moment.  I’d just found out I had qualified for a sizeable mortgage all on my own, without the need of a co-signer.  Just me.  I know, right?  Like I said, it was a moment.   I was trying to explain to her what that felt like.  I struggled finding the words.


“It’s like …” I began.


“…you’re Mom,” she finished.


My breath caught.




Yes, I suppose that could be true.


Cheers, Mom.  My hair’s combed and I’ve ditched the overalls today.  Just for you.  xoxo




Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was featured in the 2014 Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements. (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore). A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook. and@Eyerollingmom on Instagram.


Missed the start of A Momoir? Catch up here:

Chapter 1, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/07/29/a-collection-of-eyerolls-chapter-1-yes-billy-joel-we-will-all-go-down-together/

Chapter 2, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/08/13/chapter-2-sometimes-kids-suck-a-lot/

Chapter 3, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/09/22/chapter-3-sorry-were-tied-all-kids-are-filthy/

Chapter 4, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/12/02/a-momoir-chapter-4-a-moms-plea-to-seth-rogen-enough-with-the-masturbation-already/

Chapter 5, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/04/20/a-momoir-chapter-5-the-magnitude-of-the-middle-aged-mom/

Chapter 6: Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/08/24/a-momoir-chapter-6-im-not-always-like-you-mom-but-thats-okay/

Chapter 7: Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/12/01/a-momoir-chapter-7-hello-happiness-are-you-out-there-hello-hello/

Chapter 8: Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2019/06/14/a-momoir-chapter-7-high-school-graduation-my-big-fat-so-what/

Chapter 9: Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2019/08/12/a-momoir-chapter-9-parenting-horrific-behavior-would-you-know-could-you/

Chapter 10: Click here: A Momoir, Chapter 10: Coming Clean: The Art of Mastering Uncomfortable Conversations

Chapter 11: Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2020/02/22/a-momoir-chapter-11-how-many-back-in-my-days-until-you-officially-morph-into-your-mom/

Chapter 12: Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2020/03/17/a-momoir-chapter-12-when-a-teen-up-leaves/

Chapter 13:  Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2020/07/24/a-momoir-chapter-13-covid-edition-or-rather-still-not-skinny/



Daughter Strong: Four Years of Reflection


Mom doing what she loved best

My mom died four years ago today.

I no longer spontaneously cry – making beds, walking down the produce aisle, seeing commercials for cancer centers when I least expect it —

But I still catch myself absent mindedly reaching for the phone when something funny happens.   You know, the house phone.  I can’t really name too many people I still talk to on my house phone anymore.  Even now, 1460 days later, I’m not ready to get rid of it.

I’ve honored her memory every passing year by putting into words the changes that have crept into my life in the time without her and have usually marked its passage by focusing on my kids;  their size, their maturity (or, hello, teenagers: lack thereof), and their role as unknowing anchors in my unsteady journey through middle age.  It’s funny;  I often wonder how they’d take knowing the true strength of their super powers.

What’s heaviest on my mind on this anniversary, though, is the profound change of my emotional core.  My emotions – and the things that affect me — have veered tremendously from what once was.

You know what angers me most now?   When friends roll their eyes over their mothers’ forgetfulness.  Or annoying habits.  Or intrusiveness.  Or anything, really.  I find myself irritated when they complain about perfunctory – and quick – visits with their moms and I often suppress the need to scream when hearing they  dutifully “have to” go see their moms for dinner, or doctor’s appointment, or — again — anything, really.  It infuriates me that they just don’t get it.  Or understand what others would give for one more day.

Know what makes me happy now?  That my mom died so young.  And quick.   It’s actually a rather ironic personal admission I’ve made peace with.  She was only 69 when she passed and the toxins in her body were vicious and speedy, taking her within six months from start to end.  The thing is, prior to her diagnosis, she was beautiful, hipper than most her age, and stylish.  Extremely stylish.  She was envied for her magnetic humor, was incredibly charismatic and if I may be cliché, a treasured friend.  Really and truly treasured.  She was also quite the hot ticket:  In sickness, when she was too weak to get to Kohl’s, she circled items out of their circular and sent me out to buy them.  Shoes and bags she never did muster up the energy to use.  But she had to have them.

She was immeasurably vibrant and if I’m being totally honest, I find comfort in that image being my final remembrance of her.  I will never, EVER know her as a frail, feeble old lady, with white hair and stooped shoulders.  I will never feel pointed sadness helping her up a flight of stairs.  I won’t ever have to visit her in a nursing home and spoon feed her.  And I will never know the unfathomable despair of watching her recollection of me and other loved ones fade from her memory right before my eyes.  She will forever be my great-shoe-wearing, never-leave-the-house-without-makeup-wearing, always-with-awesome-accessories-wearing 69-year-old mom.  And that is my beautiful image.  And that makes me happy.  I imagine I’m not the first person who’s lost someone too early in life to cling to this shred of positivity, so I’m not sorry for it.

Know what I care about now?  Hmmmm.  Not so much.  I keep a firm grasp on my family, of course, and make sure we stay intact because it’s all we have and all we need.  It is the good stuff for sure.  But all the other stuff?  Meh.   See ya.  Grudges, weight-gain, the-sky-is-falling hysteria of every day that screams BREAKING NEWS?  I let all go.   I learned how to surround myself with drama-free friends.  I ask myself, What’s the worst thing that can happen?  And I realize it’s not the end of the world if (pick one) a kid doesn’t go to college or a spouse loses a job or a kid drops OUT of college or the bills are piling up or the kid doesn’t play Varsity or someone snubbed someone on Facebook.  Ah, what the hell, pick ‘em all.  None truly matter.

Not in the least.

So I really don’t care about all that much these days.  Just the good stuff.

I wish she could see how fantastic her grandkids are turning out.

I wish she could see the living room chairs I just spray painted.

I wish she could see how long my hair’s gotten.

I just miss her like mad.

And when my youngest, sitting in my passenger seat, innocently blurts out, “This song reminds me of Nanny…

I know we all do.

Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was featured in the 2014 Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements.  (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore).   A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook. and@Eyerollingmom on Instagram.