My mom passed away 31 years ago, today. It was a Wednesday. When Dad called me all he said, after I said “hello?” was, “your mother didn’t make it.”

Then dial tone.

I called Mom’s closest friend, told her what Dad had said. She had no idea what it meant.

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I knew.

Mom was a strong person. Maybe the strongest woman I ever knew. After college, 1943 she went into the Navy as a psychologist in WW II, in charge of a hospital psych wing in San Diego for Navy pilots. After the war she stayed in the reserves, became head of a NY ad agency’s accounting department. She and my father married, then moved to NC because they did not want to raise a family in the city. She was DAR, Junior League, in book clubs, bridge clubs, garden clubs and a scratch golfer. A lot for a daughter to live up to.

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I could never.

I miss her. She did not suffer fools, at all, and if I ever went off track she had little patience. If I ever complained as a kid she’d tell me to tell it to the marines.

She was tough. She was smart. She was brave. So when she died I had been a single parent a few years and she and I, once as close as sisters, had drifted apart.

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The Sunday before she died she called me. She had just got home from suffering two heart attacks in hospital. We talked about everything and nothing. She said some bulbs I had planted for her had come up, were they narcissus or freesia? Would I like to come visit soon? Yes.

The conversation wound down. “I love you,” she said.

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”I love you.” I replied. We hung up.

So when Dad called I was blindsided. But like so many things we just never know.

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