Frances Wanderman. Born May 26th, 1915. Died June 17th, 2016.
This was taken on May 26th, a little over two weeks ago in Los Angeles, California on my mother’s 101st birthday.
Since then she’s been eating and drinking less (and she was already eating and drinking very little) and two days ago she stopped.
She passed away last night at 8:30 pm. Her helper Marta and my cousin Mary were with her. It was peaceful and easy.
She’ll be buried sometime this coming week at Mt. Hebron Cemetery in Queens, New York where her parents and siblings are.
My mother not only lived a long time, she lived a very full life. Here’s a collection of images I posted on her 100th birthday.
Here’s one of the earliest images I have of her at her Grandmother Leah’s funeral at Mt. Zion Cemetery, New York, 1918. She’s the youngest child on the right. Her maiden name is Dick and that’s her father, Samuel Dick behind her brother. His father, David Dick, is the old guy with the beard.
Here’s a professional portrait of my mother (third from left) and her siblings. We’re guessing she’s about 17 here which would make the year 1932.
My mother (center) interviewing the actress Dorothy Lamore at “21” in New York. My mother wrote for a movie magazine.
My father, mother and me in about 1953 (I’m 2, my parents 38).
My mother and me at Crater Lake in 1972. I was 20 years old here, my mother was 57. My hair came off for good the next year and I grew a beard which I have to this day.
This is my then 90 year old mother who was a Mac user for years. She loved all the t-shirts and swag I used to bring home from Macworld and from my years consulting for Apple. This picture is in the documentary, MacHeads.
I’ve been traveling out to Los Angeles at increasingly regular intervals to check up on my mother and on these trips we’d almost always go to a garden, a museum, out to dinner with relatives and friends, and cram as much in as we could. Here she is in 2009 inside a Richard Serra sculpture at the Los Angeles County Museum of art.
This was taken two years ago at Descanso Gardens in Flintridge, California, one of the many gardens we took my mother to. Her helper, Marta, was with her for eight years.
I can say for sure that my mother would never have lived to 101 had Marta not been in her life. We were lucky to have the resources to have this kind of help which enabled my mother to continue to live in her own house until the end. This was her wish: no assisted living, no old age home, and she had an explicit DNR (do not resuscitate) statement and told me, no hospitals. She watched what my father went through dying over two months in a hospital and she did not want that for herself.
An aside and an example of my mother’s humor. She’d say this on each of my visits as she became less independent until the last few years.
Frances: “Why don’t you give me the pillow job.”
Richard: “Mom, if I do that I’ll go to prison for murder.”
Frances: “What do I care, I’ll be dead.”
This was her morbid yet funny way to talk about her own death and as she got older and dementia set in, this kind of humor became my test of her cognitive capacity which was pretty amazing until recently.
I give my mother tremendous credit for making good choices along the way. I might have thought she’d be happier in an assisted living place but in fact, she enjoyed her independence and her routines and kept both up as long as she could. I’m quite sure those routines helped her live as long as she did. Marta and I used to joke that a half of a tunafish sandwich and a blended mocha must be the secret sauce that kept her going. I’m guessing it was the routine of getting out of the house and down to her little sandwich place for lunch out almost every day that kept her going. She enjoyed it and it gave her a reason to live.
She will be missed by many people although she’s outlived so many of her friends and relatives that the number is smaller than it might have been.
RIP Frances, I’m glad you were and will always remain my mother.