Monday, January 2, 2012

Joan Gloria Angello Delsandro Leone....My Mom

That's my mom on the left and her BFF Connie

I am just returning home from a long week in NJ. My lovely mother passed away the day after Christmas. It was expected, she had been sick for a long 16 years and  this past year was extremely difficult for her. What was not expected was the discovery of lost memories.
Let me start by saying that after my mothers first craniotomy in 1995, a 9 hour surgery to remove a tumor the size of a man's fist, she had a long 3 year recovery, many hurdles to over come and because of the size  of this tumor it was difficult to extract it without damaging some of her brain tissue. She was a different mom. The mom I grew up with was gone and I was sad. Don't get me wrong I was so thankful that she was still with us, my children got to know their grandmother, I just had not expected  a whole new person. With a heavy heart I  grieved  the loss of my mom. Over the next 16 years she would under go  8 more craniotomy's and radiation treatments to keep the benign tumors at bay. Each time a little more of her would slip away. She would work hard to recover and soldier on...always with a smile. In 16 years I never heard my mom complain, seriously never once.  I was so proud of her, awed by her strength and courage...her desire to fight so hard to stay here with us. The last 2 surgeries left her paralyzed on her right side and unable to speak more then 3 words. We expected the "slowing of her brain", but expecting it and watching it were 2 different things. It was heart breaking for all who knew my mother pre tumors and frustrating to her. I had the gift of being able to sit with her for 5 days about a week before her death. I was there when she opened her eyes for the first time in 2 days, and when she saw me we sobbed.  I was there when the doctor said there was nothing more to do. I was there when the decision was made not to feed the tumors any more. I was there when she tried to sing one of her favorite Harry Chapin songs. I was there when she opened her eyes for one of the last times and for this I will be forever grateful. I returned home for  Christmas with my family and on our way back down early on the  morning of the 26th, my Saint of a brother Peter called me to let me know that she had died early that morning. That call was followed by another from my other brother Chris, telling me the same.
We turned our car around in Massachusetts, headed back to Maine to gather my husband then headed back down to NJ. Where at my mothers wake I was given the gift of memories, beautiful memories of my mom. Friends from the neighborhood where I grew up, friends from High School, College, Maine, from my mother's childhood, from her 26 years  with  my dad ( who pre-deceased her by 27 years) My aunts and uncles and cousins from far and near... came in force and shared stories about "Joan" and "Mrs. Delsandro" & "Aunt Joanie" Stories about how she welcomed them into our family, how they lived at our house, her contagious giggle, sweet smile, kind spirit, giving soul and on and on.  I was so thankful for all the sharing of memories, because in all honesty, these past 16 years somewhere I had put all those memories away. I was touched deeply and more than words can ever describe by all the love I have felt the past week. From people who are a part of who I am...they are forever woven into the fiber of  my being.  I am blessed to have been born into such a family who raised me to be the person I am. They taught us love and kindness, to treat others they way you wish to be treated...who knew such simple words really go a long, long way. Because at the end of the mother treated everyone kindly and with love and she was sent off that way a thousand fold.