Alzheimer's Benefit Sale Today! Sleeping With the Laundry

Today, in honor of my mom's wedding anniversary, I'm having a sale to benefit the Alzheimer's Association. Today, purchase the app, Sleeping With the Laundry for $1.99 and I'll donated 100% of my proceeds to the Alzheimer's Association! Help me spread the word and I'll give as much we sell together. No limit.

Meanwhile, please enjoy this free preview from Sleeping With the Laundry. It's my eulogy for my mom. She was an inspiring woman in quiet ways and all the ways that really matter. I miss her still today. I guess I always will.
July 2004

Last week, my mother Mrs. Margaret Mary Brady passed away from a ten to fifteen year struggle with Alzheimer’s Disease at the age of sixty-four. For the last five years she lived in a nursing home after her care became too much for our family. We were worried that after the long goodbye there wouldn’t be any grief left, but the sadness was real and overwhelming for those who knew her.

Sometimes, I overhear people talking about how their Mom is driving them nuts over this or that, and I always want to tell them how lucky they are. But I never do, so here goes.

I think everyone has experienced a cold night where the temperature drops after you’re already asleep in bed. When this happens, I tend to dream over and over of someone bringing me a blanket. When I was a kid, my mom seemed to know whenever I was cold and would appear as if out of my dreams. She would tuck a blanket around me with a kiss and sometimes sit for a moment. Margaret was the mom a kid would dream up if they could. She sang to us in the car. Read stories on picnics under trees. And kissed us in bed every night, saying sweet things like, "snug as a bug in a rug."

My mom was the most unselfish person. She never thought about herself first, never had the newest clothes, never an abundance of baubles or fancy trips. Everything was for her husband, her five children and her multitudinous family (she was one of eleven). But she wasn’t a wet noodle. She was a feisty woman with pluck. When he was young, my youngest brother Matt got an inordinate amount of trouble from the principal at his high school (inordinate even for a boy who ran with the wild pack all over New Jersey). And he told Mom about his problems. The next day, he caught sight of her in the principal’s office. He later learned that she told the principal to "lay off" in so many words, as Matt was a good boy and would turn out fine.

My mom was a very smart woman who could have done anything with her life, and she chose to be a mother as her full-time career. She taught us many things and above all wrong from right — both in how she carried herself and in words. Her many wise sayings included:

• "Everything in moderation."
• "Offer it up for the poor souls in purgatory."
• "Your sister is your best friend. (Stop pulling her hair.)"
• And the favorite, "It’s a beautiful day, so go outside and play – NOW!"

Common sense was at the heart of her wisdom. When I was anxious about graduating from college and moving on to the next phase of life, Mom noticed and sat me down and for a talk. "Don’t worry," she said, "You’ll do just fine. Life’s not about grades or books. It’s about how well you get along with people."

My mom gave me my faith and taught me to believe in God and trust him.

She also taught us how to love. My mother loved my father and worked to give us a great example of a loving stable relationship. They never argued in front of us, never corrected each other and always presented a united front. Every night when my dad came home, she would drop everything to give him a hug at the door. I guess it was a way of living the belief that love is more important than the pot that might be boiling over on the stove. And despite having five children, she was calm and even-tempered. Don’t ask me how she did it. I don’t have a clue.

One Thanksgiving, when the disease was progressing and her speech was mostly unclear, we were all in Charleston, South Carolina where they lived. Even though the word repetitions made it difficult to make out her speech, she was still getting around fine. All my brothers, sisters and their families were in town and we were outside playing a casual game of lawn football. We switched off teams and I encouraged Mom to sit on the sidelines with me to make room for others to play.

"But that’s where the fun is," she said pointing to the field. And, she went right back in. That’s how she felt not only about the game, but about her family and raising her own children. That’s where the fun was, and like that game, she was always right there in the middle of it.

My mom loved her job as a Mom, but didn’t feel it was the only choice for women. She held up her sisters, a nun and a businesswoman, as other good examples of how to live. My sister Monica told me about my mother’s last clear words to her. Monica was worrying about going back to New York after staying for three years to take care of our mother. Somehow, Mom sensed Monica’s unease and though her speech was garbled at best by then, she said clearly, "Go out and do what you’ve got to do."

It was like a message to Monica and to all of us. "Go out and do what you’ve got to do." Not go out and do as I do, but go out and do what you need to do. In many ways, it’s like the subliminal wisdom from her favorite saying of our growing up years, "It’s a beautiful day, go outside and play."

Being such a wonderful woman, it’s sad she missed so much. She didn’t have much of a chance to experience the simple things many take for granted, like caring for her grandchildren, traveling as an empty nester, or dining out at nice restaurants now that the college tuitions are paid. It can make you angry thinking about it. Like, where’s our miracle? Why wasn’t this woman spared or cured?

When a best friend of mine passed away at the age of 32, we felt the same. Where was our miracle then? Someone pointed out that perhaps the miracle was that we had our friend at all. And, I think that’s the case with Margaret. For the mom that a kid would dream up if a kid could, perhaps the miracle was that we got her at all.

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