Sitting amidst a cluttered apartment, having yet grieved the loss of my sweet, fiercely independent, strong Irish Catholic, faith filled, Mom. It’s been a whirlwind of a week. Just before stepping on the plane last Weds morning for a flight home to Indiana, I got the call from my sister that Mom had passed in her sleep. We were all happy and grateful that she had finally gotten her wish. She had been ready “for the Good Lord” to take her for some time and the last few years found her questioning why she was still here. 96 years old and a role model to so many. I’m blessed to have been one of her daughters. There are five of us children, 3 girls and 2 boys. No longer children, however, as we are well into our 50’s/60’s.
This morning I’ve been going through books and I marvel at how each book has all kinds of paper tucked into the pages. Cards from those who gave her the book, pamphlets from various Catholic organizations, scrap paper with notes written in her hand, bookmarks, newspaper clippings, a variety of information cataloged in addition to the contents of a book.
It’s so peaceful here in her 2 bedroom independent apartment at University Place in West Lafayette, Indiana. She’s called this home for the past 9 years. We all saw how Mom blossomed after she moved in here. She never had the opportunity to go to college or live with friends in apartments. She lived at home with her Mom and siblings (her Dad died when she was 20) in Chicago till she was 29 years old and married Bob Conley. So when she moved in here, she became part of the fabric of an active social scene. Going to Purdue convocations, attending movies, plays, shopping on the bus each Monday with her friends, growing her garden plot out back, delivering mail to Assisted Living and being a stalwart of the 7pm Wednesday Rosary group. My brother-in-law was correct when he said that we would add 5 years on to the life of our Mom when moving in. Surely we did.
What a shock it must have been to trade the city life of Chicago for the rural life of Rensselaer, Indiana. But she took to Rensselaer developing close friendships that lasted a lifetime. After twenty years of living in Rensselaer, Dad began working with Orvis Brothers, a stock brokerage firm that had an office in Lafayette. It was only 50 miles further south, a larger metropolis with Purdue University across the river in West Lafayette. So it was the Conley’s moved to 2413 S. 9th street. That house became the home that allowed me to grow roots, which gave me the wings to fly into my own life. Mom and Dad nurtured all of us there as we grew up, and on to our own independent lives.
There will be a day in the near future, I know, where I’ll be overcome with emotion, a river of tears will fall, but today, as I sit here in the quiet of her apartment surrounded by the things she loved, I’m complete.