To my hero and beautiful mother, “Gert,” Happy Birthday!  

Published 3:30 pm Friday, February 4, 2022

Tomorrow, Sunday, February 6, would have been your 109th birthday – I miss, need you, your love and wisdom more than ever.  You were always my rock and only person on this planet who ever loved me unconditionally.  On February 10, 2008 – four days after your 95th birthday, you joined daddy in heaven.  The last words you spoke to anyone before slipping into a coma, was to me: “I love you.”  

Then for two nights, not sleeping, I sat alone by your bed holding your hand just as you always stuck by me and being your usual tough fighter, clinging to life, as your favorite child, only son, with three older sisters (Mary Ann, Pat, Paula) around you that last day and whispered in your ear – you fought a good fight, you won the race, it’s time to rest, be with God and daddy…and you finally, peacefully let go….

At your funeral Mass February 12, presided over by Charleston, MO hometown dear friend, Monsignor Richard Rowling, his eulogy to you was wonderful – but a wee blur as I cried uncontrollably through it…tears as I write this….

Mother Nature, who loved you dearly, responded angrily at losing such a gentle, loving, sweet soul, and poured down freezing temperatures, ice and snow – conditions so bad the gravesite visitation was limited to driving by in our vehicles…so appropriate to me….

You told me on several occasions that my life was like a soap opera and were going to stick around to see how it turned out.  Ha!  At 95 – I thought you had done it…taught me faith, patience, to attend daily Mass, Rosary every day, be soft, caring, peacemaker, tough (just rub dirt on it), frugal, but although okay, my life remains a bloomin “soap opera…”

Wednesday, February 2 (2-2-22) was the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple by Mary and Joseph to Anna and Simeon who held our Lord and announced that although the hope of the world, a sword would pierce his earthly mother, Mary’s heart.  I know full well more than once my imperfect behavior pierced your heart…sorry, Gert.  

February 2 was also Ground Hog day reminding me of the February 12, 1993 movie, “Groundhog Day” where a cynical weatherman, Bill Murray, relives this same day over and over – which feels very much like life now with this COVID-19 pandemic, omicron variant, masks, around again for another year…not much has changed….

Writing Thursday, February 3 (don’t know what will happen), exists the potential of ice and snow today/tonight, much like “The” February ’94 Ice Storm (no power for two weeks); last February “trapped” for eight days because of frigid temps, snow on top of ice, steep driveway, street (please ask daddy, granddaddy, grandpa for few more wrenching genes to get my 1964 Rover fully drivable); your drive-by funeral, February 12, 2008 where ice and snow prevented us from getting out of our vehicles at the cemetery and could only cry, mourn, drive by and wave to you one last time….

A beloved Registered Nurse, often working double shifts at the hospital, private duty, ran our household, fantastic cook, artist with left-over’s, yard flowers, table decorations, behaviorist (do you need that light on?), mom and dad when daddy died when we were both way too young – you were the glue that held our family together and through this pandemic, if here, know your patients would have felt safe, loved, and cared for as you always made them, and me, feel.

Today (Thursday) is the feast of St. Blaise and Fr. Joe blessed our throats at Mass.  You know all the issues I’ve experienced since you left because I pray to you constantly, needing my nurse/mom to help me with this stuff. 

Before hitting the button to send column to the Oxford Eagle, in a “daze” leaned back in my office desk chair, slowly sipping a swell glass of Old Ezra, 7-Year Old, Cask Strength, 117 proof, bourbon, staring out windows, 32 degrees, temps dropping, Jag under my desk perhaps sensing a turn in this weather (yikes), and your forever little boy trying to wrap my head around the fact that you’ve been gone for fourteen (14) unbelievable, very long, lonely years…. 

Happy Birthday Gert! I love and miss you deeply…hello to daddy, God – please keep helping me “GG” (Grandma Gert).

 

Steve Stricker received his Ph.D. in Counseling from Ole Miss, lives in Oxford, and can be reached at sstricke@olemiss.edu.