Her Story, Her Way


I want you to help me write my obituary.

Sure. What would you like to say?

Okay, it has to begin with, I was born on a high and windy hill.

No. You weren’t born on a high and windy hill. What are you talking about?

I was born on a high and windy hill. And the doctor who delivered me drove a buggy pulled by the most beautiful black horse in five counties.

Whoa. First of all, you weren’t born on a high and windy hill. You were born on a flat Oklahoma prairie, where a dirt clod was the highest elevation for twenty miles in any direction. And your doctor drove a Model T Ford. Where are you coming up with this stuff?

This is my obituary, and I want it to read this way. It was a dark and stormy night on a high and windy hill.

No. The dark and stormy night already has been done, you were born at 8:45 in the morning, and I am not going to write things that are not true. Why don’t we just write what happened? The real stuff?

Do you mind? I believe this is my story, and I don’t need to clear it with you. When you write your obituary, make it as boring as you want. This one is mine, and I like the way it sounds. Are you going to help me, or not?

A few moments pass. Just thinking and evaluating kinds of moments.

All right. Let’s do it your way. I believe we have you being born on a high and windy hill on an Oklahoma prairie, where your doctor arrived in his Model T, pulled by a black stallion, in the middle of what may or may not have been a dark, stormy morning in the middle of the night.

A few moments pass. Just thinking and evaluating kinds of moments.

Well, maybe I need to think about this a little more. You get me some tea, and I will give the details another going over. I still like the high and windy hill, though.

She did not have time to rewrite her story. My mother passed away last Sunday night. And even though we never did finish that imaginative beginning of her life, I recall perfectly the joy it gave her as she created those scenes in her mind, those wondrous moments that were far more real to her than the actual event.

I have been thinking about ways my mom would have appreciated acknowledging her passing. One way was to go ahead and write her story just the way she told it to me. Another is to celebrate her life with fun and color and nonsense. Because she was fun, colorful and full of nonsense.

Elisabeth Kubler Ross said, “I have told my children that when I die, to release balloons in the sky to celebrate that I graduated. For me, death is a graduation.” I have a package of balloons in my closet, that have been waiting there for just such an occasion. When my children and grandchildren are here, I do believe we will be releasing a great burst of color into the sky, shouting, We love you Mom, we love you Grandma!! And we will see you again.


24 thoughts on “Her Story, Her Way

  1. What a fine piece of writing–it touched me very much. My mom is going on 99, and it’s tough to be around as her mind plays tricks on her. She also is colorful and loves a good laugh. Thinking of you. Your mom would love this post! 🙂


  2. So funny, Gail. I can relate because my conversations with my mother in her last year were along the same lines. Thoughts from her that came out of nowhere and were totally not true. It is also very touching. Kind of a glimpse into where our mind goes as we age. I know that my mother’s thoughts toward the end were of her past and her parents and grandmother. She even thought that her mother was in the kitchen making breakfast for her. Having experienced the end of life stuff with her, I am thinking that our relatives that have past on come back to ease the transition from this life to the next. Just a thought???


    1. Actually, the experiences I had during these months confirmed to me exactly what you are thinking. The medical staff called them delusions; she called them by name. I have learned not to question the end of life experiences. Just because we don’t see these things does not mean they aren’t real. Thank you so much for your comment.


      1. I meant to say “passed on” not past on. Oh well. Are you going to move back to your son’s house or stay where you are? Sounds like you are fixing up a place to stay. Do you like it there?


        1. I am thinking I might stay here for a while. It reminds me a lot of the Modesto of our youth, but not as hot in the summer. Triple digit heat wilts me now, and I love rain. I live close to the college, and it’s similar to the area around MJC, so that’s pleasant. All in all, this is suiting me, which is nice. And it’s only an hour and a half drive to the beach, so I can see family easily. Life is good!


          1. Sorry to keep bugging you! I don’t know why my post comes up as anonymous? This is Susan. Just in case you didn’t know. Ok, I think I fixed it. I am not good with technology. That is why I have kids and grandkids.


  3. As others above have noted, this was deeply touching. May I add that it was also beautifully written, and I went from laughing to its emotional opposite in an instant. Please accept my sympathies.


  4. Gail, I was wondering why I had not seen your words recently appear in your blog. I am sorry for your loss and so moved by the balloons and conversation you had. Yes, she did graduate regardless of whether the start was on a prairie or on a hill. Great memories, thanks.
    Best wishes my friend, BTG


    1. Thank you very much. It was a difficult couple months, but they left me with many memories, and no regrets. I learned so much, and am considering some new options as a result of the lessons. The one I wish everyone could get is to love them while you have them; it vanishes all to soon. Have a blessed Easter!


  5. A wonderful tribute to your mother. A burst of colour in the sky – beautiful phrase Of celebration. May the comfort, hope and joy of Easter embrace and unfold you.


  6. Absolutely momentously beautiful. I’m feeling the chills up and down my spine. I’m sorry that your mom has passed, but no, she hasn’t passed AWAY, she’s graduated. And how wonderful of you to celebrate that event with balloons, and an imaginative creative obituary. xo


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