A personal note on New Year’s Eve

I hope everyone has a happy and blessed New Year.

I intended to write this note on Christmas, but like so often intentions never materialize. I’ve had several intentions over the last month. I intended to make this a Christmas post and share a sonogram of my son who is schedule to make an appearance in February. It was going to be a post about how amazing 2011 had been for me personally—and that at times this had distracted me from posting as many fun (ok, often somewhat mean) articles. See, I find I’m at my best when I have something to complain about, and for both Alabama football and my family life, I had much to be thankful for in 2011.

On this topic of intentions, my mom recently went to live in Somerby at St. Vincent’s 119. It is a very pretty assisted living facility, and we were all excited for her to be settled into the new place as my wife and I prepared for the birth of our child. She had lived with us prior to going to assisted living, but I wanted her to remain involved in our family life. To that end, I had intended on bringing her home to see the way too tall Christmas tree I put up over the holidays (think Clark W. Griswold), and to see progress on the nursery—we painted it and got the crib and changing table setup. Unfortunately, life was hectic at the holidays.

On Christmas night, we went out to dinner at Sumo’s in Hoover. This might not have been the brightest move to take a my mom who was on oxygen to a restaurant where you sit next to a flame. But, we survived.

She had fun that night.

Unfortunately, on her birthday of December 29, she wasn’t feeling very good. A trip to the ER at Brookwood revealed no new issues and she was released. On December 30, we were back in the ER as mom’s vitals crashed. I am so appreciative to everyone at Brookwood for the way they worked to revive her and care for her on the 30th and 31st. In particular Dr. Phillips and Dr. Stanley on this occasion, and on other visits with serious problems Dr. Johnson did great things to help us.

Mom had been very ill since 2005 when she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called polymyositis. This autoimmune disease scarred her lungs and weakened her muscles. She spent the rest of her life on oxygen, and in the end, the increased pressure in her lungs caused an enlargement in her heart that would end her life on New Year’s Eve.

Her health was bad with many other issues. Just after the polymyositis was diagnosed and treated, mom developed breast cancer that required surgery. In 2008, mom suffered a massive brain bleed, and this stroke left her paralyzed on her left side. Oddly enough, in 2011 she was making tremendous progress in rehab thanks to her therapists—she had walked 40 steps with her walker dragging that left foot—an amazing accomplishment for someone suffering from paralysis and an autoimmune disease that weakens your breathing and muscles.

Mom would have liked to have lived a bit longer. She would have liked to have seen her new grandson. But, we know she is no longer suffering and is no longer burdened by the chains of her illness. While her grandson Evan Michael will not know her firsthand, I will take heart in being able to share with him the memories. I’ll always remember my mom and my dad (who passed away in 1994 when I was in college), as persons who sacrificed to give me a better life. They always cared more about my sister and me than themselves. It is an example that I too often fall far short of living. But, everything good that I do (or will do, or hope to do) for my child was made possible by every single good that my parents did for me.

I can safely say that both my mom and dad were the most virtuous people that I have ever known. Their example outshined their human flaws. I was blessed.

2011 ends on a very sad note for me. However, I’ll keep hope that my mom who loved to sing at church in the choir and could no longer sing because of her ailment, will now be able to fill heaven with a renewed soprano’s voice that sings and praises God for his glorious gifts.