My mother passed away last night

Frances is 101 today

 

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.

Images of my mother

 

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.

My great grandmother Leah's tombstone

 

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.

My mother and her siblings

 

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 interviews Dorothy Lamour

 

My mother (center) interviewing the actress Dorothy Lamore at “21” in New York. My mother wrote for a movie magazine.

My parents and me

 

My father, mother and me in about 1953 (I’m 2, my parents 38).

My mother and me at Crater Lake, Oregon in 1972

 

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.

My mother's a Mac Geek

 

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.

My mother inside a Richard Serra

 

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.

Marta and Frances

 

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.

26 comments

    1. Thanks Jonne. I have so many images of her it’s overwhelming. I can see a book coming out of it when I’m rested and I’ve put her affairs in order.

      Thanks for following along friend.

  1. This is a lovely way to remember your wonderful Mum Richard. I wish I had met her, although, felt I sort of knew her from your stories and photos over the years.

    Kate and I send our best wishes and condolences. We are thinking of you all.

  2. A beautiful tribute to an amazing lady.
    I had to laugh about the half tuna sandwich and blended mocha (she always referred to it as her “fix”) Perhaps that was the secret to her longevity.

    She will be missed….RIP, Aunt Frances

  3. Thanks for your great and lovely tribute to your mom, Richard, and the excellent photos. She was a truly fascinating person and what a wonderful sense of humor. I regret so much that I didn’t connect with you in L.A. so I could’ve met Frances. You and your family are in my thoughts. Rest in Peace Frances.

    1. Thanks Gary. Yeah, you would have found her to be quite the character and I know she would have loved you. She was a serious reader most of her life, until her eyes went bad.

  4. So sorry to hear about your mother’s passing. I have fond memories of visiting her when my family would come to CA.

    1. Thank you Joan. She definitely knew how to keep family connections going. She attempted to keep me involved in that but alas I didn’t take until much later in my life. Be well and thanks.

  5. Richard, I am so sorry to hear of your mother’s passing. Though I never met her, your comments and photos over the years made me feel as if I did. And thank you for sharing your remarkably wonderful blog photo history and anecdotes. She led a long and rich life with a sense of humor and sharp mind to the end. Those memories become a part of us in several ways, and live on essentially forever.

  6. Richard I am so sorry for your loss, I know from reading your posts that you were very close, she certainly lived a life and had many adventures along the way. I have enjoyed the snippets you have posted about her on this blog these highlighted her zest for life as well as her character.

    Once agin my thoughts are with you my friend, take care.

    1. Thank you Martin. She had a very big life and a long one. No doubt as I dredge up old photos or objects in her house in the coming weeks I’ll post more remembrances here. Thanks.

    1. Thank you Wouter. I know that you know how these kinds of family emotional times can be. The good news is we have photographs which make stories easier and better. Be well friend.

  7. A very touching tribute, Richard. My condolences to you and your family. May her memory be a blessing.

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