In the four years that I have written this blog, I have never had to write a more difficult article. Despite a lot of things that have happened to me in those four years, my younger son's kidney condition, a bout with depression, everything pales in comparison.
For those of you that read this blog, recently I have talked about my mom being in the hospital. My mom (far left in this picture) was admitted to LIJ Manhasset on Sunday, November 15 with a heart attack that she had suffered the previous Friday, the Friday I was in Kansas. She had thought it was heartburn from something she ate. She felt better Saturday, but felt very sick on Sunday. When my little sister Gwen got there, she called for an ambulance. Outside of recently taking medication for high blood pressure, my mom had never had heart problems.
When she was first admitted, her heart briefly had stopped. And we were told that she had suffered "severe" damage to her heart and that she was very ill. Her kidneys and liver had suffered severe shock. She was being sustained by an external pacemaker and a heart pump. Yet for the first three days, she was very cognizant of her surroundings. She practically ordered me on my son Jonathan's birthday to continue having the family birthday party we scheduled for this Saturday (and we did). She admitted to me one day that she annoyed my older brother the night that he stayed to watch her, but she said he was annoying her too. And people wonder where I get my sense of humor from. :-)
Someone I used to care about very much once told me that "Moores Don't Give Up Easily" to describe my personality. I am very proud of that trait and that was all due to my mom. My mom was a single parent by the time I was 13, in fact I think even sooner (thanks to a deadbeat dad that I haven't talked to in 30 years). She went from a stay at home mom, to a full time working parent keeping the house afloat for her kids. It was my mom who wanted me to go to college full time. And when my grandmother died of cancer the first week of my first semester at Hofstra, my mom told me not to miss class because grandma would have wanted it that way. My mom persevered through her long work days as an assistant bookkeeper and worked full time into her late 60's.
And in the hospital she set out to show that. First, her kidneys, that looked to be a definite candidate for dialysis, came back to normal. Her liver, which was in trouble, came back to normal. Her platelet count came back up. And if that wasn't enough to show you how tough and resilient she was, here's a great example of it. After a few days, due to lack of sleep, she would wake up in the middle of night disoriented and want to get out of her bed. Well last Friday night, she did get up out of bed and attempted to pull wires out of her. My 115 pound mom had to be restrained by FIVE people. That's how strong she was. They gave her a sedative and she slept most of Saturday. She wasn't like that again and felt bad that she did that to the nurses. She needed the sleep.
I didn't work last Thursday and Friday and stayed with her throughout the day in the hospital as we all did. I watched her get better over several days, which amazed her doctors who thought she would only last a couple of days when she was admitted. On Monday morning, while my brother and I were at the hospital, they decided she was well enough to take the heart pump off her. Her kidneys were strong, her liver strong, her platelet count well enough and stable. And for the better part of Monday, her heart was fine off the heart pump. I stayed till 4:30 when my older sister got there. She texted me at 8:00 pm that evening to say that mom was fine and her numbers were very good. I was ready to go back to work on Tuesday figuring my mom had turned the corner.
Late Monday night, my mom had some trouble breathing and her blood pressure got very low. The doctors tried some things for her to get better. But my mom long ago had told us that if the situation occurred, she didn't want to be on life support, no breathing tubes etc. When she was first admitted in the hospital, she was adamant in having my brother, who was her health proxy, to sign a "Do Not Resuscitate" Order.
The doctors contacted my little sister, who contacted the rest of us to come to the hospital immediately due to her condition. When my wife woke me up and told me, I raced to the hospital. Unfortunately none of us got there in time.
At around 1:00 AM Tuesday morning, my mom passed away. She did it on her own terms and knowing mom, she probably didn't want us there when she passed. She fought valiantly as only she could, but in the end, my mom's heart damage was too much for the heart to sustain.
My mom was 79 years old. She was well aware of the Great Depression (and that's probably the reason she had over $3000 in $50s in her house which my brother found out yesterday), saw World War II and the loss of her older brother Harry to that war. She saw the 5o's boom, had her first two children, then the turbulent 60's with Kennedy's assasination, civil rights and Vietnam and had me during that time. 1970 came my little sister and later that decade with that her divorce from my dad. She got us through the rest of the 70's and 80's through her determination and at the end of the 80's saw her first of two grandkids. The 90's brought Mom her second grandson and her third child get married (that was me). The new decade saw mom retire from work, celebrate her 70th birthday with a limo and a broadway show (the Music Man - very good). It then brought her two more grandsons, my two children.
After seeing her that first Sunday evening in the hospital, I had a dream. I was at a party with people I knew, when suddenly everyone went away and my mom suddenly appeared. I told her "What are you doing here, you're supposed to be in hospital." My mom replied in the dream "Don't worry Gary, I have lived a full life." I remember her putting her arm around me as we sat on the couch in that dream room and the dream shortly ended after that. I told my wife the next morning but didn't tell the rest of my family after she passed away.
She did live a full life. One of the last things she did in the past year or so was go with us to Pittsburgh in the summer of July 2008. I wanted to do something with the kids and I had a plan to drive across Pennsylvania, first going to Pittsburgh and seeing my Aunt Syl (mom's sister), her husband, my Uncle Elmer, catch a Pirates game, then drive back across visiting various things in Pennsylvania, including my brother at the Carlyle Nationals with our 67 Barracuda.
I asked mom to go and at first she wasn't sure. She didn't like traveling in a car for a long period of time at her age and honestly, she didn't get out of the house much after she retired. Still I thought the opportunity to see her sister might win out.
It did. My mom came with us in our trip across Pennsylvania in our CRV. It was cramped in the back with our two kids in the car seats and mom there. But she didn't mind, didn't complain and she was quite happy to be there with them. She was very happy to see her sister and her brother in law. We went to the Pittsburgh Zoo together and she stayed with Aunt Syl and Chelle (my wife) with our younger son Jonathan, while Uncle Elmer, Matthew and I went to the Pirates game. She spent time with them while we went to the National Aviary, which is one of the best unknown treasures in Pittsburgh.
When we left Pittsburgh, she was there with us on our trips to Hershey Park, Dutch Wonderland, the Strasburg Railroad and finally, Carlyle. She was an absolute trooper, walking around on very hot days, didn't complain, but did tell us when she was tired and needed a rest. She stayed at the hotel room that night we went to the Harrisburg Senators game, but we knew she needed the rest. She was so happy about that trip that she talked about it all the time since, including at the hospital. She remarked how her and Aunt Syl loved Jonathan's smile (he does have a great smile).
The picture above is the picture of her, Aunt Syl and Uncle Elmer from that Pittsburgh trip. We gave her copies of all the pictures from that trip and I know she treasured that picture. It was the last time she would see her sister and brother in law in person. I had been keeping Aunt Syl and Uncle Elmer updated on mom's condition and I knew how much Aunt Syl appreciated hearing the updates. When mom passed, my brother decided to call Aunt Syl to tell her the news and she was quite sad upon hearing it. Like the rest of us, she thought mom was getting better.
Everything I have in my life right now is due to my mom. She not only gave birth to me, she allowed me to go to Hofstra full time. During Tuesday afternoon, I thought about all the dear people in my life; my wife, my friends, my children. It's all due to being at Hofstra. I met my dear partners in college basketball crime - my friends, Tony Terentieff and Mal Galletta, through my years at Hofstra with Tony, both of us computer science majors. That's how I know my good friend Tony Bozzella also, via Tieff as do I know my good friend Bob Sugar, who does the shot clock for all the Hofstra home games. My dear friends Joe Goldberg, Sandra Vrejan and the rest of that gang I know from my friend Peggy who I went to Hofstra with during my four years as an undergrad.
Then there is my wife, Chelle, who I met at my first day working at Hofstra Law School. I remember my mom giving me the "I am starting to worry about you speech" when I was 28 about not being married. And I said "Well who knows, maybe this girl I am starting to date (Chelle), might be the one". She was and still is.
And there's all my Hofstra Law friends such as KU alum and Jayhawks expert Grant Hayden etc etc. I could go on and on and if I didn't mention your name, don't be upset, I love you all.
My point is that everything is a six degrees separation of my mom's goal of me going to school full time. It's all due to her and I could never thank her enough. Due to my mom, we shared a love of the color blue, butterscotch pudding, Sinatra, and Montauk Point.
I think I once said in this column, you haven't lived until you see the sunrise on Montauk Point. It was mom's favorite place. And when my colleague and friend at work Mary Giacomazza said that the law school wanted a place to send donations, at first I didn't know of any charity that mom was fond of. Neither did the rest of my family.
Then, for once in my life, an idea struck me. The Montauk Historical Society has a preservation fund for the lighthouse there. You can check it out at http://www.montauklighthouse.com. Click on "Tower Restoration" once there.
I have asked that in lieu of flowers that people donate to the Tower Restoration fund. You can donate by going online above or sending a check to the MHS Lighthouse Museum at the address below in my mom's name, Gladys Moore.
MHS Lighthouse MuseumI know that this wasn't exactly about college basketball. But if not for my mom, there wouldn't be this column (and she knew about my trip to Kansas and asked about it). Thus, in a way it is. Thanks Mom. For everything.
P.O. Box 943
Montauk, New York 11954