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.


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.

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.


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.


”I love you.” I replied. We hung up.

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