The Last Visit

So, this is a bit of an odd week when it comes to thinking about my mom. Today would have been her birthday (87) and later this week is the anniversary of the day she passed away in 2005 (six years already).

I was thinking about the last time that she visited me for a couple of weeks here in San Diego, about a year before she died. She’d been out a few times before so had done most of the touristy stuff and so when I’d ask her what she wanted to do, she’d say something like  “Nothing in particular, just spend time with you…” Still – I told her that we’d do anything that she wanted if something popped into her mind.

One day, I was at work at my phone rang. It was Mom. I picked up the receiver and she exclaimed, “I know what I want to do!”

“Alright – sounds good, Mom. What do you want to do?” I asked.

“I want to go to Harrah’s Rincon Casino!”

I thought that was a pretty funny answer, but it wasn’t really a surprise when I got to thinking about it. You see, back when my dad was alive, my mom and he used to ride from the Ancestral Betz Home to Atlantic City for a day. They’d gamble a little, walk the boards, eat a buffet and come home. She said she’d seen an ad on TV and thought it looked like a good afternoon away.

Harrah's Rincon

So, a couple of days later we left in the early afternoon (mom was sleeping until past 10 a.m. those days) and made the short (30 minute) drive to the casino. As Indian casinos go, it’s pretty nice and is probably on par with what my mom remembered from the Atlantic City of a decade before.

We walked around a little and my mom wanted to play some slot machines. Her eyes got real wide when she hit three diamonds, or 7s, or something and she piped up, “Looks like I’m buying dinner!”

We made our way over to the buffet, which was a standard type of casino fare – lots and lots of mostly decent (though unexceptional) food. Mom had a ton (for an 80 year old woman) peel and eat shrimp and her eyes were certainly bigger than her stomach. She asked me to take a look at the dessert table and she was excited that I found her the last piece of pineapple upside down cake – her favorite.

A little later, I brought the car around and we started heading home. I talked about dinner and asked her a question about what she liked best, but I didn’t get an answer – she was contentedly asleep in the passenger seat.

I think about that day often. I didn’t know it then, but it was the last time that she came out here and really one of the last times that she was healthy enough to do things. It was a fun day and I am so glad to have shared that time with her.

Happy Birthday Mom

Happy Birthday Mom – miss you.

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39 thoughts on “The Last Visit

  1. What a lovely story. You’re lucky you have a visit like this in your memory book. My Mom passed away September 28, 2007 at the age of 72. It was sudden. Here then gone. Living at the other side of the country meant I didn’t get a chance to hold her hand or say goodbye. It still rocks my world sometimes.

    • Thanks, BD — yeah, my mom failed over the course of the summer and fall of 2005. I ended up making a lot a red-eye flights from CA back east. Don’t regret a single one.

  2. I was just thinking a few days ago of a beautiful post you wrote on Vox once, I believe for Mother’s Day, about your mom. I’m so glad you have this wonderful memory to reflect on. Thanks for sharing.

  3. These sort of anniversaries are bittersweet. I’m glad you had a chance to have some fun with your mother: it must be a generational thing, but my mother, as forgetful as she is with Alzheimer’s, loves to go to a casino and play the slots. It doesn’t even matter if she’s winning; she just loves the lights and noise and, I suppose, the return of a feeling she had in better days. She also wanders off and gets lost, which drives my father mad, but I don’t begrudge her that one day per month of fun. Thank you for reminding me why these days are precious.

    • HG — it’s mostly a glad one for me and I don’t really get upset when I think about my mom being gone. She had said a number of times that “she was ready to go” — and when I think back, her death was sad but far from tragic. And while she and my dad weren’t quite as sharp in their last years as they had been before, I’m so thankful that we never had to deal with either of them struggling through AD.

  4. It’s so nice that you have some great memories of your mom. Adults who fight and don’t talk to their parents always make me sad, so it’s nice to read a happy memory.

    • LG — we were really lucky. I can never really remember my folks being unnecessarily angry or mean. I don’t even think I ever had a big blow up with them once I was out of my teens.

  5. Beautiful post, Steve! It made me happy and sad. I liked very much your mom’s picture. Thanks for sharing your beautiful memories. Happy Birthday, Steve’s Mom!

  6. What a wonderful picture and memory! Our visit to my father was wonderful and turned out to be the last time we would see him. When he was in hospice, I was sick, so we did not travel. But I was able to have my niece hold the phone to his ear and I told him how much I loved him. My mother said to be glad that I did not see him like he was in the end. My memories are of the wonderful last visit.

    • Thanks FS! I got to visit my mom when she was in hospice too — I remember taking the redeye out a lot during those last couple of months — but even those very sad times don’t really mar my memories. Only the good stuff is there.

  7. This is a lovely memory of your mom. I still have both of my parents so it’s hard to imagine having lost one (or both) of them. All the memories I have of them will become more priceless than ever.

  8. This made me cry. How wonderful that you have this awesome day to remember her by. When my brother passed away, I had the same sort of memory of him at a Christmas party shortly before he died. We talked for hours and had a wonderful time. Thanks for sharing.

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