Thursday, October 05, 2006

Good-bye, Mom!

I have been out of commission the last couple of days. After school on Tuesday, I got word that my mother, Dorothy, who had been battling Alzheimers for several years, was "actively dying" and that I should get down to the Twin Cities as quickly as possible. I grabbed my suit, threw a few things in a bag, ran back to the school and got something together for a substitute, filled the car up with gas, and put the pedal to the metal. Mom died this morning at about 5:00.

My mother was a wonderful person. She was a working mother before being a working mother was in. She went to work at Northwestern hospital in Minneapolis as a medical technician after my dad was laid off from his job as a claims adjuster at the Federal Arsenal in New Brighton. (He later got a job as a title investigator for the Minnesota State Highway Department.) I was in third grade at the time, and she worked at Northwestern for the next 23 years until she retired. Mom was an outstanding cook, and a great seamstress. She was also very independent and highly intelligent, which made it so hard to see her go through the mental deterioration and loss of independence that inevitably accompany Alzheimers. One thing that we will probably remember about her as much as anything else, however, was how incredibly funny she was. When my sons were little, whenever they would go someplace in a car with her, they would come back roaring with laughter, and equipped with more "Grandma Dorothy" stories. My all-time favorite Grandma Dorothy story actually took place after the Alzheimers had begun taking its toll on her, but it was so typically Grandma Dorothy that I will close with it.

Three years ago, it became clear that Mom would no longer be able to get along by herself. (My dad died in 1975.) My brother, Mike, and his wife, Mary, who live in the Twin Cities, found a high quality assisted-care facility called Rosewood Estates in St. Paul. Shortly after moving in, Mom met a very nice gentleman named Carl, who also had Alzheimers. Soon, the talk of Rosewood Estates was the romance going on between this 90-year-old man and an 85-year-old woman. The punch-line to this story came when my sister-in-law first heard of this romance. She called Mom to see how things were going, and my mom said that she had met a man and they were going to get married. Mary obviously didn't know what to make of this, so she said, "Oh? What's his name?" My mom replied in classic Grandma Dorothy fashion: "I can't remember. But he's in the bathroom, so when he comes out, I'll ask him."

Good-bye, Mom. Your sons, your daughters-in-law, and your grandchildren will miss you.


Anonymous Doug Johnson said...

A beautiful tribute. Thanks for sharing this.

My deepest sympathy,


10/05/2006 8:41 PM  
Blogger KDeRosa said...


10/06/2006 5:38 AM  
Blogger jettybetty said...

I agree--such a beautiful tribute.

I pray God's comfort for your family.

10/06/2006 6:07 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

That story was hilarious!

I'm sorry you lost your mother. But maybe it was her time to go--I think lingering for years with Alzheimers and deteriorating has got to be the worst.

10/07/2006 2:56 PM  
Anonymous NYC Educator said...

I'm very sorry for your loss.

10/07/2006 3:06 PM  
Blogger Deb S. said...

What a lovely tribute to your mother, Dennis. You have my condolences and prayers.

Your mom gave birth to you. That alone makes her very special.

May you always hold on to those wonderful memories and humorous stories. Such stories certainly helped me when I lost my mom last year.

Take care, my friend, and keep us posted on how you're doing.

Hugs to you and your family.

10/07/2006 6:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, Dennis. When my mom died, it was a relief....but still such a heartache.

But what a beautiful tribute. Every time now, I hear the name Dorothy, I will think of your mother.

Aloha, Dorothy.

10/07/2006 8:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was me, Liz, from I Speak of Dreams with the previous comment.

10/07/2006 8:27 PM  
Blogger rory said...

Your Mom sounds like she was quite a character with a great sense of humor. A trait that I admire greatly.

10/08/2006 5:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it. And your mother will live on in yours and your family's memories of her.

Prayers and condolences.

10/08/2006 9:19 PM  
Anonymous Timothy Oshie said...


I was deeply saddened when Warren Keller gave me the news about your Mom's passing last week before football practice.

On behalf of the entire Oshie family, our condolences to you and your family.

You've been a steady in my life these past five years, and I hope we can make it many more together "In The Trenches". My trenches include, but are not limited to, the Warrior lockerroom and arena's in Warroad.

It sounds like your Mom was a beautiful, funny and incredible woman. Heaven just got a little bit sweeter Coach!

Coach Oshie

10/09/2006 5:24 PM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Thanks to all of you for your condolences. I would have responded earlier, but I just got back to Warroad. I'm kind of glad I didn't, though, because if I had, I might have missed a couple that came in the last couple of days. Thanks again for all of the good wishes.

10/10/2006 3:48 PM  
Blogger elementaryhistoryteacher said...

I am so terribly sorry and apologize for not writing this sooner. I left Friday for the beach and checking email and other blogs was spotty until hubby figured how to upload the Internet using his blackberry.

I'm so, so sorry. Yet another thing we have in common. I wouldn't wish it on either one of us.

I have lots of mother stories as well. Hold on to those. Share them. Tell them to family members and friends. Tell them to us. It does help to remember the happier times before the sickness.

Maybe my mom was the welcoming committee for your mom. I'd like to think so anyway......

Big, big hug!

10/11/2006 8:29 PM  
Anonymous MellowOut said...

Others have said things more eloquently than I could have. I am so sorry for your loss and encourage you to cherish those wonderful memories.

10/13/2006 11:56 AM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Thank you also to EHT, and Mellowout! EHT, knowing that you went through the same thing just a couple of months ago, I thought of you a lot during the last couple of weeks. And Osh, it looks like T.J. and the Fighting Sioux are off to another great start. Keep it going!

10/14/2006 3:34 AM  
Blogger CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

All of those "Grandma Dorothy" stories will sustain you when grief threatens to overwhelm you. How blessed you are to have them! But, of course, you wouldn't have them without the mother you had. She sounds like a wonderful woman.

10/14/2006 5:09 AM  
Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

My deepest sympathy for you as you face yet another loss. You are in my prayers. I really loved that anecdote.

God bless you and your family.

10/14/2006 11:59 AM  
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