Rest in Peace, Betty’s Mom

My mom died a few hours ago. I’m an atheist, and I don’t believe in an afterlife, but if there is one, Mom is probably pissed at me for putting her personal business out on the Internet, even if I don’t use her actual name or mine. “Why?” she’d ask. “What the hell is the point?”

But I want to tell you about her, because she was a character. I almost completely fucked up her life by being conceived when she was in high school and becoming the proximate cause of a shotgun wedding between two wildly ill-suited mates. By the time she was 18, Mom had two pain-in-the-ass daughters, a failing marriage and no money.

But she had an escape plan: When she was in her early 20s, she left my father and moved herself and us kids to the nearest sizable town and worked her way through nursing school. She became a cardiac care nurse, a teacher and a leader, but always someone who pushed back against what she perceived as the stupidity of institutional thinking.

For example, when some of the “suits” at her hospital pushed the staff to come up with snappy acronyms for processes, she made sure hers were near-profanities such as “TERD” and “SHYT.” She was 100% serious about patient care, but she had a strict no-bullshit policy about schemes hatched by administrators.

She would eventually try marriage again, but it wouldn’t last. She got a son out of the deal, though, so she considered the relationship a qualified success. Her boy grew up loved, harassed and scolded by a mom and two older sisters. And while matrimony never quite took with my fiercely independent mom, motherhood sure did. She loved each of us ferociously.

Mom was a witty woman, with a tendency toward sarcasm and irony. My sister followed in Mom’s footsteps and became a nurse. When she graduated from nursing school, she went for a job up in Savannah. So Mom, sis, little brother and I made a family trip of it to take my sister to her first real job interview.

After the interview, we were in our crappy little hotel near the waterfront (a “fleabag,” Mom called it), watching the local news. The announcer mentioned that a Coast Guard cutter was docking at the waterfront that evening. Without missing a beat, Mom reached into her purse, handed my sister and me five dollars apiece and said, “If you can’t drink all night on that you’re no daughters of mine.” And we did. And we are.

Some years later, after my sister had returned to Florida, my little brother decided to steal the family van at age 14, sell baseball cards along the way for gas money and go look up a girl in Virginia whom he’d met at the beach. He and a friend got as far as Savannah when they ran out of gas and could find no takers for their baseball card collections.

Naturally, Mom was frantic about the missing son and vehicle. She’d contacted my brother’s friend’s parents, and they figured the boys were somewhere together in the van, but since they’d left in the middle of the night, no one knew how far they’d gone. My brother finally broke down and called Mom. He said, “Mom, I’m in Savannah.” Mom said, “Savannah better be a girl, you little shit!”

Mom and the other boy’s father rode up together to fetch the miscreants. On the way home in the van, Mom played the soundtrack of “Cats” on an endless loop at high volume to punish my brother. Twenty years later, he still can’t hear it without involuntary retching.

The women in my family tend to live long enough to seriously flirt with or surpass the century mark. Mom’s own mother is alive and in tolerably good health for a very old lady, though I suspect the news of Mom’s death will kill her. We dread telling her tomorrow, but we must.

Given what we thought were fortunate genes, we used to jokingly conjecture that Mom, my sister and I would end up living together again someday as three cranky old ladies, and that our much-younger brother would be obliged to have a stiff drink before visiting us each week to clean the cat box and pluck our chin hairs.

But as it turns out, Mom, the cardiac nurse with a fiercely loving heart, was born with a bad aortic valve. And that’s what took her from us decades too soon.

All during the last month that was consumed by her health crisis, I kept finding myself wanting to text her or call her to tell her about some stupid thing someone did or said that would have amused her. I miss her so much already, and this mom-shaped hole will be in my heart for the rest of my life.

Goddamn it, it’s not fair, I keep thinking. There was so much more fun to be had, more trouble to get into. But life’s not fair, as Mom often reminded us. You get to be alive, and then you’re gone, so make it count, she would have said. And demonstrated.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
292 replies
  1. martha says:

    Much love to you and your family Betty, What a powerful tribute. I lost my mom in November and so I’m teary right about now. Hugs. Just hugs.

  2. JPL says:

    Betty, What a wonderful tribute to your mother and although, she might bitch about the tribute, she’d be proud. Lots of hugs to you and your family.

  3. BruceFromOhio says:

    I’m sorry for your loss. I’m grateful for you sharing her (and your) stories.

    You get to be alive, and then you’re gone, so make it count, she would have said.

    This is wisdom.

  4. Montysano says:

    You get to be alive, and then you’re gone, so make it count, she would have said.

    As someone who is inexplicably arriving at age 60 in a couple of days, this is damn right.

    So sorry for your loss, Betty. That was a fine tribute you wrote.

  5. the Conster says:

    So so sorry Betty. I’m coming up on the 2nd anniversary of my mother’s death, and all I know is that the only person who has ever loved me with that kind of fierceness is gone. I miss her terribly. No one will ever love you like a mother does.

  6. something fabulous says:

    Oh dear, I am so so sorry. What a wonderful thing to have written; I do hope sharing something about her to us all will help to bring you peace and grace in her memory. I’m not religious at all either– for me, it’s the sharing that carries us through.

  7. Cheryl from Maryland says:

    Dear Betty and family, Your mom was awesome. She was kickass, and she raised you to be kickass as well. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  8. Barbara says:

    I’m so sorry, Betty — but what an amazing life! I so enjoyed reading this even while I felt sad about what you’re going through right now. What a marvellous woman — and how lucky you are to have her as a mother.

  9. R-Jud says:

    On the way home in the van, Mom played the soundtrack of “Cats” on an endless loop at high volume to punish my brother. Twenty years later, he still can’t hear it without involuntary retching.

    This is clearly the mark of diabolical genius. I’m so sorry for your loss, Betty.

  10. Aimai says:

    Betty your mother sounds like an incredible woman. I wish I could be there for her memorial/wake to hear the stories and embrace you. From one daughter to another Ido embrace you. There is no loss like this one.

  11. JGabriel says:

    My brother finally broke down and called Mom. He said, “Mom, I’m in Savannah.” Mom said, “Savannah better be a girl, you little shit!”

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Betty. And ours – given the above, your mom would have made a great Balloon-Juice poster/commenter.

    My condolences to you and your family.

  12. MazeDancer says:

    Just from your remarkable words your Mom has sparkled for us all. Thank you for this post. It answers beautifully What’s the point? – That all of us get to know her, learn from her wisdom and example, plus enjoy her wit and fire. Please write about her whenever you like. Clearly, a great woman left too soon.

    Many heartfelt condolences to you and your family.

  13. Mystical Chick says:

    What a wonderful tribute to your mom, Betty. She sounds like someone way ahead of her time. Thank you for sharing her life with us.

    Peace be to you and your family in the coming days.

  14. Mystical Chick says:

    What a wonderful tribute to your mom, Betty. She sounds like someone way ahead of her time. Thank you for sharing her life with us.

    Peace be to you and your family in the coming days.

  15. stoned stats says:

    This is just terrible news, Betty. Like so many others have already said, though, your tribute was incredibly touching. You were lucky to have her and she was lucky to have you.

  16. Gin & Tonic says:

    Sorry for your loss. She sounds great. My own relationship with my mother, who passed two years ago, was … complicated, so in a way I envy people who can grieve simply.

  17. Emma says:

    I am crying and laughing at the same time. What a magnificent woman. I will never hear Memories again without snickering.

    I was going to offer my prayers for your family but I think she’s got you covered.

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I laugh, and then I cry. That Mom shaped hole can never be filled, but the love never leaves you. It is a part of you.

    RIP Mom Cracker. O.O.O for you Betty.

  19. SectionH says:

    What a wonderful tribute you wrote, Betty. So sorry you had to lose her so soon. My condolences to you and all your family.

  20. Summer says:

    I’m very sorry for your loss, Betty. She sounds remarkable. And I’m sad for her Mom and the news she’ll get today. Condolences and hugs.

  21. Riley's enabler says:

    Ah damn, Betty. I’m so sorry to hear it, I was hoping for better news all this time. I am so sorry for your loss and will have a glass tonight in honor of your wonderful mom.

  22. Linda Featheringill says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

    I was never quite the same after my mother died. I felt more vulnerable or something. And I missed being able to share little things that she would appreciate.

    It took me three years to truly get over her death. I’ve asked around and that seems to be a common experience.

    One thing that really helped me was to write letters to my mom. I didn’t mail them but I wrote them anyway. It eased the pain of not being able to share things.I did that for about a year or so, whenever I felt like I needed to.

    [[hugs]]

  23. Ash Can says:

    An outstanding tribute to someone who was obviously a giant among women. Sincerest condolences to you and your family, and may your many wonderful memories be a comfort to you through the years.

  24. Elmo says:

    Betty, your mom sounds like a badass – and I have few higher compliments for a woman. Women should be badasses, because that’s the only way to cope with what the world throws at them.

    Thank you for the introduction. You’ve made my own life that much richer for the learning about her.

  25. Amir Khalid says:

    {{{hugs}}} That was some eulogy. Your mother sounds like a fascinating, wonderful person, full of piss and vinegar. Don’t really know what to add to the condolences. Peace be with you and yours.

  26. raven says:

    Aw Betty I’m so sorry. You are such a bright light here on Balloon Juice and I know that part of that is her. Please take care.

  27. Lee Hartmann says:

    That was a moving and witty tribute. Thanks for sharing. As I know from recent experiences of my friends, mere words are inadequate but might be appreciated all the same. Be well.

  28. skyweaver says:

    My condolences to you and your family. Your mom sounds like a great person. I loved reading about her. I’m from a family of, while very nice people, very safe people. I crave people who dare to live their lives on their own terms, like I try so hard to do. Then I read something like this and I am reminded that others have trod this path before, and that I am on the right one. I never met her, but your writing about her here has helped me.

    Anyway, I know you will miss her, and I’m sorry.

  29. debbie says:

    The world needs more women like your mom. I’ve known a few similar souls and they really made life enjoyable.

  30. greennotGreen says:

    I’m sorry she departed so young, but what a wonderful legacy she left you! The stories you’ll tell with tears and laughter and eventually only laughter. So she does live on, and I hope you’ll let her live on here on these virtual pages with us, your virtual neighbors. Our thoughts are with you and your family, Betty.

  31. donnah says:

    My condolences, Betty and family. Your mom sounds like an amazing person and I’m sorry she’s gone. The world needs people like her. Peace and hugs.

  32. Cervantes says:

    Quit yer kvetching.

    Or words to that effect.

    It’s obvious she was no ordinary person. Heck, after reading what you wrote, I miss her. But I’m guessing that laughter and tears will see you through.

    And memories.

    And love.

  33. Arrieve says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Betty. My mom was impossible, a stubborn Irish alcoholic who thought I walked on water, and I miss her every day.

    Your description of her makes me simultaneously sorry I never met her, and grateful that she graced this planet with her presence.

  34. raven says:

    Joe Biden:

    ‘There will come a day, I promise you, and your parents, as well, when the thought of your son or daughter or your husband or wife brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye,’ he said.”

  35. Biscuits says:

    Betty, what an awesome woman and mom. Thank you for such a touching tribute. I recently lost two parents I hardly knew. I am glad you will have wonderful memories of her, though tinged with sadness for a life taken too soon. Go slow and take care of yourself. Big virtual hug to you and your family.

  36. Schlemizel says:

    What a beautiful tribute. What a great mitzvah you were given, what a great pain to have it taken away so soon. Thanks for sharing stories of her life with us, I hope they joy you knew will overwhelm the pain you have.

  37. Helena Montana says:

    I’ve been reading your posts with great enjoyment, and sharing them with friends for a long time. I’m so sorry about your mom–she sounds like an absolutely fabulous person. That impulse to call, text, e-mail or just talk to the departed is the hardest thing about losing somebody, I’ve found. I lost both my siblings within the last year, and I have that feeling every day.

    Peace be with you, Betty. You have some wonderful memories.

  38. TS says:

    Wonderful story and Mother – I’m on her side with those never ending schemes of administrators – doing the job is what makes us who we are. And you will forever be thinking of her from now into eternity I chat to my Mom endlessly – despite she left us nearly 10 years ago.

    May your family spend the next many days reliving the stories, the fun and the love.

  39. satby says:

    Oh Betty, your mom sounds like a “great old broad” in the most complimentary meaning of that phrase. My deepest condolences to you and your entire family.

  40. MikeBoyScout says:

    The “point” is to celebrate the life that brought so many smiles. This is how we “count”.
    Peace be with you and your family Betty.

  41. J. says:

    That was one of the best eulogies ever. Thank you for sharing, Betty. Your mom sounds like a great lady, who will be sorely missed. You were lucky to have her. She went too soon.

  42. Dcrefugee says:

    From one Floridian whose mother has passed to another, please know of my deepest sympathies. If it matters, know that missing her is something you’ll do the rest of your life…

    DCr

  43. SiubhanDuinne says:

    Betty, your tribute made me laugh and cry simultaneously. I was wishing I had known her, and then realized I do know her, a little, from reading your words. What wonderful memories you and your siblings have to help you through this sad time.

    That was very generous of you to share these anecdotes with us. Thank you, and huge all-enveloping {{{{{{{hugs}}}}}}} to you.

  44. eric says:

    @raven: i was just about to post this for Betty. The single grandest thing I have heard a modern politician utter because you could tell it was heartfelt.

    Betty, your words are heartfelt, so much so that your grandness as a person shines through and in that your mother will live on. Peace. And dont feel guilty smiling and laughing at remembrances. When my mother passed, it was remembering her ways with her full spirit that made the absence bearable.

  45. Miki says:

    I have one of these – “this mom-shaped hole will be in my heart for the rest of my life.”

    And you’re right – it won’t ever be filled.

    {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{Betty, Sis, & ‘Lil Brother}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

  46. Lee says:

    Sorry to hear about your mom. I lost mine about 10 years ago. She preceded her mom (my grandmother) by 3 months.

  47. Mustang Bobby says:

    I cannot fathom the pain and the loss, so all I can do is hold you and your family in the Light and hope you find comfort with your family and your friends here and everywhere.

  48. Lurker says:

    What a wonderful eulogy! Thank you for sharing a bit of her life with us. I’m so sorry for your loss. We only have one Mom…

  49. Rhoda says:

    I am sorry for your loss. I don’t know what to say; but, it’s amazing how clear and strong the love between your mother, brother, sister, and yourself is. I hope that surrounds you and brings you comfort and the memories joy. Good luck to you and yours; you are in my thoughts.

  50. Soprano2 says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Betty. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your mom, thanks for sharing that with us. My relationship with my mother is complicated, we love each other but have a hard time getting along. My sister was the oil that greased our wheels, and since her death a year and a half ago our relationship has become even harder. I envy you that easy, loving relationship with your mother, I wish I had that. You’ll treasure those memories forever. It does get easier but the pain never completely goes away.

  51. Rob in CT says:

    My condolences. Nice write up. Character is definitely the word…

    My 88 yr old father has a wonky aortic valve, apparently, which was the cause of some ruckus at my house the day after Christmas. Thankfully for us, he pulled out of it and now appears fine. For now. I dread the day when he’s not. Not for me, but for my (much younger) mother.

    Hang in there, Betty.

  52. MomSense says:

    What a perfect tribute to your Mom, Betty. I can tell how much you love her and will miss her. Sending you my condolences and a big hug.

  53. Manyakitty says:

    Betty, I’m so very sorry to hear this. I hope you can draw strength from her memory, and I will keep you and yours in my thoughts.

  54. moonbat says:

    Betty,

    I am so sorry for your loss. Your mom sounds awesome and I hope that your family and your memories of her (they sounds quite wonderful!) will help you through this.

  55. the antibob says:

    Exactly the sort of strong woman that we would have expected to raise a fine strong writer like yourself. This is a great tribute. Best wishes to you and your family.

  56. bemused says:

    The impulse to call your mom, tell her or ask her something, will never entirely fade away. My mom has been gone for almost 20 years and it still happens. Then there are the occasional dreams when she visits me, neither of us church goers, btw.

  57. Gex says:

    Tears. What a lovely post about your mother.

    I am so sorry to hear this news. And so sorry for your loss. But I am very happy you had such a good relationship with her. A good mom is such a gift.

    Hugs and love to you.

  58. KBS says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss! Losing my mom (way too young) was one of the worst things I have every gone through. Wish I was there to give you real hugs instead of virtual ones.

  59. rikyrah says:

    Sorry for your loss, Betty. Reading the posts, it seems as if her health troubles came out of the blue, which can be jarring in itself. My mother’s diagnosis to death took less than 6 months, and I still feel her loss and it’s been five years. You and your family are in my prayers.

  60. HRA says:

    My sincere condolences to you and your family, Betty.

    I totally enjoyed your tribute to her. In these days and those that follow as sorrow is ever present, remember the days of laughter to give you solace.

  61. Keith G says:

    Although not always, more often than not, we are our mother’s children. The ways they choose to embrace the world that confronts them are often our strongest lessons.

    Peace to your family

  62. Chat Noir says:

    I’m so sorry, Betty. What a wonderful tribute to her memory. I don’t know what else to say except I’m sorry for your loss.

  63. BubbaDave says:

    Deepest sympathy for your loss, Betty.

    (This is where I normally say “and may her memory be a blessing” but considering that lovely and powerful tribute, I think that one’s already accomplished in a major way.)

  64. Tata says:

    Ahhhh, crap. Sorry about your mom, Betty. The only thing to do is raise more righteous hell, have more fun and get into more trouble, as a tribute, y’see. Take care.

  65. brantl says:

    I, like you, Betty, am an atheist. I am reminded of my mother whenever I read what you write. Both our mothers took a hard life and made it much, much better. All my sympathies.

  66. everbluegreen says:

    Beautiful. Funny. Heartbreaking. Made me cry, and I know neither of you.

    All my sympathy (and damn, that word feels inadequate) to you and yours. Your mom was lucky to have kids who loved her so well.

  67. Tom Levenson says:

    Dear Betty,

    I’m so sorry to hear this: deepest sympathy on your loss.

    There’s not much else to say, beyond the wonderful tribute you’ve written, so again: this is terrible news; my thoughts are with you and your family at this time.

  68. I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    Beautifully said, Ms. Cracker. Thank you for sharing it with us. Condolences to you and yours.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  69. gluon1 says:

    You have beautifully expressed both your mother’s wonderful approach to life and the depth of your love for her. I can but echo the sentiments of so many others, you were lucky to have her and unfortunate to lose her and I wish you all the best.

  70. oldster says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your mother’s death.

    And what a powerful set of stories. She was a hell of a woman, and raised a hell of a daughter.

    This atheist will remember you both in his non-prayers tonight.

  71. Elizabelle says:

    Betty: your mom lived, and she taught you all to do so, and gave you permission to be yourselves.

    She did well. It’s sad to lose her, but you are going to have some laughs (in with the tears) at the wake and services.

    @Emma:

    What a magnificent woman. I will never hear Memories again without snickering.

    That is a fine legacy.

  72. WereBear says:

    @Linda Featheringill: One thing that really helped me was to write letters to my mom. I didn’t mail them but I wrote them anyway. It eased the pain of not being able to share things.I did that for about a year or so, whenever I felt like I needed to.

    I think that’s a wonderful idea.

    My heartfelt condolences, Betty. She was a wonderful woman, and of course, that never ends. It lives on in all who knew her or heard stories about her.

    And now… so many more people know. If there is an afterlife and she wants to know why the heck you did this, now you have an answer.

  73. Betsy says:

    I’m so sorry, Betty. Your mom was amazing, and so is her little girl. Thank your for sharing some episodes from her life.

  74. geg6 says:

    My deepest sympathies, Betty. My mom was a character, too, so I can relate to your description of yours. Women and their mothers have intense relationships. Mine was not as great as yours sounds, but there is no more significant relationship in our lives.

    And weirdly, today I am going to the viewing for my ex’s mother, who died on Saturday after a decade-long decline from Altzheimers. My ex may have been an ass to me at the end, but he was heroic in his care of his mother over that time. She and I never really got along in the 18 years the ex and I were together, but I am sufficiently over the hurt and friendly enough with the ex to respect her and all the years we spent holidays, Sundays and birthdays together.

  75. StringOnAStick says:

    You and your siblings gave her plenty to be proud of, and from your words everyone can see that she obviously loved deeply and without reservation. So sorry for your loss Betty.

  76. Paul in KY says:

    So sorry to hear this, Betty. What a wonderful writeup about your mother. I would have loved to meet her.

    She sure did a great job raising y’all.

  77. Garbo says:

    this mom-shaped hole will be in my heart for the rest of my life.

    That’s so true it just laid me out. So sorry for your loss. Sounds like you are continuing a line of serious dames.

  78. LAC says:

    I am sorry for your loss. It is a blessing to have parents in your life who you can laugh with and have fun with. Those memories are a comfort on those days when you think your heart will break.

  79. narya says:

    What a wonderful tribute to someone who sounds like an amazing person. I suspect it will be for you as it is in my family with regard to one of my grandfathers, a similarly larger-than-life character. It’s just about 30 years (this month, now that I think about it) that he died, and we STILL tell stories about him, to the point of tears of laughter, and there are still stories that we haven’t all heard. My condolences . . .

  80. gelfling545 says:

    You get to be alive, and then you’re gone, so make it count, she would have said.

    Yep. Sounds like she did that and those are the people we miss the most. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  81. Interrobang says:

    My deepest condolences to you, Betty and family. What a beautifully-written tribute. Even if she didn’t see the point, she’d probably be proud of the essay, if nothing else. All my best to you in the future. Grief is never easy. Give yourself some time.

  82. Svensker says:

    Big hugs. You never stop missing them but the memories come more often with smiles than with tears after a while. Twenty years after my mom died I still put on her favorite perfume when I’m feeling in need of an arm around me. And that brought on the tears.

    More hugs.

  83. Bostondreams says:

    This was a wonderful tribute. I lost my mom last year. I can only offer my condolences. This was a wonderful way to honor her.

  84. Angela says:

    Oh Betty, this sucks. So sorry to read this news, so glad for your ability to give us a glimpse in your writing of how deep is the loss. Holding you all in the Light as you tell your grandma, and get through the next few days.

  85. GHayduke (formerly lojasmo) says:

    Very sorry for your loss, Betty. My thoughts are with you, and all who suffer today.

    -J

  86. LanceThruster says:

    Beautiful. Thanks for sharing her with us. I grew up without a mom but had the good fortune to have friends with moms with love enough for all. Sincere condolences.

  87. dcdl says:

    I’m sorry for your loss. Your mother sounds like quite a character and someone who loved and enjoyed life.

  88. Tehanu says:

    So very sorry for your loss. You wrote a wonderful tribute to her. I just lost my dad so I know how it hurts to lose someone whose love you could always rely on, but it’s helped me a little to have the support of my friends and family, and I hope this helps you a little bit too.

  89. nancy darling says:

    Betty, reading your Mom’s story made me laugh and made me think how lucky you are to have had her for a Mom.

    The hole will always be there, but someday the memories will all be bittersweet. You’ll be both happy and sad to think about her.

    I am not an atheist, but I have real doubts about an afterlife. It doesn’t stress me to think my mom and dad are no more. Their well-lived lives had come full circle. I have more trouble accepting the death of my brother who died too soon at 68.

    Blessings to you and yours. And revel in the memories of Mom for the rest of your lives.

  90. Elie says:

    My deep condolences to you and your family, Betty. I do believe that love never dies and that your memories and love are her “afterlife”. Blessings to you and your family…

  91. askew says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your mom passing. It sounds like she was an amazing woman who made every second count.

  92. dcdl says:

    I’m sorry for your loss. Your mother sounds like quite a character and a love of life that she didn’t lose no matter what life threw at her.

  93. Baquist says:

    Sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing; your Mom sounds like an amazing woman who lived her life to the fullest.

  94. Constance says:

    Betty, I laughed and cried all the way through your wonderful stories of your mom. I’m so sorry she is gone.

  95. Gemina13 says:

    Betty, I’m sorry for your loss. Your mother sounds like a fantastic woman to know, and even more to love. My mom was similar in her fierce love for life and her children–a real lioness. Kinda figures your mom would raise awesome daughters like you and your sister.

    The hole won’t close, but you’re going to find that the memories will start bringing you more joy than grief. But give yourself time. You’ll have moments when you’ll hear her right beside you, and see her out of the corner of your eye; when the loss hits you so hard you feel like you’ve just been gutted. You’ll find new stories to tell about her that’ll be screamingly funny, infuriating, and heartbreaking. Above all, you’ll find at times that it isn’t “Mom” you miss, but “Mommy.”

    It’s been five years, one frightening relocation, two new addresses, six jobs, one surgery, and finding the love of my life later, and I still dream of her. I still argue with her. I still cry, I still laugh, and I still miss her. And right now, you might not believe me, but it’s all a good thing.

    Wishing you comfort, and the peace to mourn as you need.

  96. SuperHrefna says:

    Betty I am so very, very sorry for your loss. Big hugs. Your mother sounds like she was a joy and privilege to know.

  97. Ruckus says:

    Sorry about your Mom. It’s a hard day, this day. My sister missed it by passing 5 yrs before mom, on moms birthday. But you seem to have many good stories and those will stay with you. I’m almost sorry to say I laughed at the story of your brother in Savannah. But I’m not. This kind of story says lots about your mom, all of them good.
    RIP Mom.

  98. Dead Ernest (Thought Wrangler) says:

    Betty Dear Heart,

    Thank you so very much for bringing, telling, some of the heart and grit of your Mom.
    She sounds like a magnificent person, the kind of person that goes through life making the lives of others better. Causing such ripples to make more difference, provide more benefit than one could ever know.
    And she provided the world with you, for which I’m grateful.
    A lineage of making the world a better place.
    One simply can’t do better than that.
    The tremendous magnitude of losing a Mother that damn great, Hell, you need a Mom like that to raise a daughter who could bear such a loss.
    Thanks to both you and her for providing so much to admire.
    Hugs.

  99. Violet says:

    So very sorry for your loss, Betty. Your mom sounds like a real kick and one smart, tough woman. Thank you for sharing a small part of her with us. Go easy with yourself as you navigate the next few days, weeks and months. RIP, Betty’s mom.

  100. Elizabelle says:

    Betty: So glad your daughter got to meet, and will always remember, her grandmother. That’s some strength to rely on.

  101. kindness says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Bless you Betty.

    Athiest or not, you will find yourself continuing to talk to your Ma. I do.

  102. Beeb says:

    I was so very sorry to read this sad news. Thanks for sharing your mother with us. My deepest condolences to you and your family.

  103. Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    I’m sorry to hear this, losing a parent is devastating. Best wishes to you and your family in this time of sorrow.

  104. Aurona says:

    My sincere best wishes to you and your family on your mom’s passing. She does sound badass and I see why I like your writing as your mom truly raised unique individuals with that fine sense of sarcasm, irony and optimism. I think this is a unique trait that moms raising kids alone hone to perfection, as I have that ‘gene’, too, and nod in agreement at some of the antics of family members you have described. Great memories for you always with a mom well-loved and honored here.

  105. BGinCHI says:

    Sorry to be late to this virtual wake.

    Sorry to hear this news, Betty. It sounds like Mrs. Cracker Sr. was a great lady. Tough single working moms and nurses. Backbones of this nation and probably most of the world.

    It makes me want to punch a sanctimonious white male politician right in the mouth.

    Best wishes to you and your family.

  106. pat says:

    Condolences on the sad and untimely death of your mother. It must have been a hoot growing up with her and you will be able to tell stories about her for years to come.

    You also might want to write more of them down, to pass on to her grandkids.

  107. feebog says:

    Your Mom sounds like she was a pistol. A wonderful tribute, and even though you knew this day was coming, I know it hurts. Thanks for posting and be well.

  108. Mnemosyne says:

    I’m so sorry, Betty. We lost both my dad and my father-in-law within 6 months of each other last year and there really are no words.

  109. Elizabelle says:

    @BGinCHI:

    It makes me want to punch a sanctimonious white male politician right in the mouth.

    That would be a fitting tribute.

    “In honor of Betty’s mom.” Whap! POW! “Get ovah yusself.”

  110. CaseyL says:

    Great tribute, Betty. Your mom sounds like she was a real firecracker. I’m sure it was amazing, having someone that fearless and determined in your corner: that makes the loss more painful, I think.

    Condolences.

  111. shelly says:

    Betty, I am so, so sorry. I’ve been thinking about you and your Mom ever since you posted about her problem. Like you said, way too soon.

  112. beth says:

    So sorry for your loss. Great moms always go too soon, even if they live till 100. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  113. phoebes-in-santa fe says:

    I can’t say it any better than the posters who came before me. Your mother sounds like a kickass lady and left you all way too soon. But you have some great memories. My condolences.

  114. Villago Delenda Est says:

    My brother finally broke down and called Mom. He said, “Mom, I’m in Savannah.” Mom said, “Savannah better be a girl, you little shit!”

    Oh, this is absolute comedy gold! Your mom was definitely a character, and I mean this in the best possible way!

    I wish I had known her…what a fabulous woman! Only reinforces what I posted before…it’s obvious where your own sense of humor and properly jaded view of the world comes from, Betty!

  115. SuperHrefna says:

    And Betty, my thoughts are with you and your grandmother today. I know it will break your grandmother’s heart to hear about her daughter dying, but I hope that the love of her remaining children, grandchildren and great grandchildren can help her bear the blow. ((((Betty))))

  116. Comrade Mary says:

    Oh, she sounds like an incredible woman. You were all so lucky to have her, and so unlucky to lose her so soon. My thoughts are with you all.

  117. JCT says:

    Strong thoughts your way – sounds like you have a ton of memories of a life well lived. May they console you and yours as you move forward.

    I lost my father way too early 10 years ago- his memory still sustains me and certainly makes me laugh as well.

  118. Dee Loralei says:

    Betty, that was a great tribute to Momma Cracker. My own mother died about a month ago, and your stories brought on real tears. She sounds as kickass as my mom was. If there is an afterlife, I hope they are raising hell together and cracking everyone up. Yup, those mom sized holes…..

    Sympathies to all who loved her. And do be good to yourself.

  119. WaterGirl says:

    Oh, Betty, I am very sorry you have lost your mom. I had so hoped it would go the other way.

    I can’t tell you how many times I have thought about how lucky it would be to grow up with a mom like you. But I never thought about it going the other way. Now I see that it’s not luck at all. All those things we love about you, Betty, I see in your beautiful tribute to your mom.

    Your mom will be with you forever.

  120. Ann Marie says:

    I am so sorry you lost her, but you were uncommonly lucky to have such a wonderful person, much less mother, in your life. My sympathy to you and your family.

  121. WaterGirl says:

    There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They are messengers of overwhelming grief and of unspeakable love.

    – Washington Irving

  122. srv says:

    Thanks for sharing a few stories about her life, she reminds me of a few characters I’ve known. Condolences to you and your family.

  123. currants says:

    Betty, I’m so sorry, and I don’t even know you, or your mom. And still, the stories you have of her in your life (and in hers) are a wonderful gift, & I’ll bet you have in your head far more than these. I love your writing; thank you for including us.

  124. Mnemosyne says:

    Also, it often seems to me as a non-Southerner that there are two major archetypes of Southern women: the Southern Belle and the Shitkicker (let’s call them Scarlett O’Hara and Molly Ivins). I think it’s pretty obvious from your stories which archetype your mom decided to follow, and good for her.

  125. West of the Cascades says:

    Betty,

    my condolences – thank you for posting this and for sharing what a wonderful person your Mom was. My mother died two years ago and I still am hurting and it means a lot that you would share this with this community and the wider world of the intertubes.

  126. fidelio says:

    I’m sorry, Betty, both for your loss, and because things all fell apart so quickly, instead of giving you all decent chance at a fix that would keep you together longer.

  127. Susanne says:

    Betty, I’m so, so sorry, but want to let you know that I think your wonderful memories, your life and family, and not least, your writings make a wonderful tribute to your Mom. She sounds like someone I would have liked to know. I lost my mom long ago and still think of her every day, but now it’s with more amusement and love than grief. Trust that it gets better.

  128. Drunken hausfrau says:

    So sorry… But your tribute is a hoot! As are you! Keep writing with that cracker wit and wisdom she imparted to you! I’m sure her patients loved her, too…I know I adored my cranky funny cancer nurses — you live, you die, make it count… We should have tshirts printed!

    A toast to your mom!

  129. a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    I am sorry for your loss, too soon, of your mother. Thank you for sharing the sliver of the amusing stories about Betty Cracker’s mother with us. She was well loved, and clearly widely loving as well. I’ll toast her this evening.

  130. Roxy says:

    Thank you for sharing your love for your mom. Your beautiful eulogy had me laughing and crying. I would have loved to meet your mom. Peace to you and your family Betty.

  131. harx1 says:

    I’m a lurker here, but I just wanted to say how sorry I am for your loss. What a beautiful tribute for clearly a wonderful lady.

  132. Tinare says:

    So sorry for your loss. Your mother sounds like someone I would have liked to have known. You wrote a beautiful tribute to her. My deepest sympathies to you.

  133. Loufromhere says:

    Thank you Betty for giving me a second mom for just a few moments. Get you some peace and rest as you did all and shared with us too.

  134. chmatl says:

    Jesus, Betty. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    It’s been two and half years since my mother died, and reading this wonderful tribute to her has me tearing up thinking about the giant hole in my own life. Although your mom reminds me a lot of my own – smart, funny and full of life – our relationship was often adversarial. And still the hole is there. Even with the stresses and strains I never doubted how much she loved me, my husband and our children.

    It gets easier but the missing never goes away entirely, I imagine. Peace to you and your family.

  135. Barbara says:

    The traditional Jewish words of condolence are “May her memory be for a blessing.” Which your mom’s certainly will be, to judge by these fabulous stories about her.

    My deepest sympathy to you and your family.

  136. Karmus says:

    My condolences, Betty. I know about that mom-shaped hole, going on two years now. And “life’s not fair” was one of my mother’s favorite quotes, as well. You are in my thoughts.

  137. Scout211 says:

    My thoughts are with you and your family right now.

    So sad to say goodbye.

    Take care of yourself, Betty.

  138. Mj_Oregon says:

    So very, very sorry, Betty. I really have no words to convey my thoughts. Your mom sounds like she was a remarkable, resilient and extremely loving woman. She’s left a remarkable, resilient and extremely loving legacy in you.

  139. grrljock says:

    So sorry to hear about your loss. Losing one’s mother is painful, no matter how old one is (I lost mine when I was 18). I loved what you wrote about your mom; she was indeed a character, and she has raised you well. My condolences to you and your family.

  140. Gretchen says:

    I’m so sorry, Betty. When I was in that situation, my head knew what was coming, but my heart didn’t believe it was possible. I still think I should call and tell her something. I loved th Coastguard story. She sounds like a firecracker. Hugs.

  141. Trollhattan says:

    Am so very sorry about your mum. She sounds like somebody I’d have loved to know. My best to you and your family–you’ll be thinking of her constantly for a long, long time, a measure of how much you love her.

  142. mai naem mobile says:

    I’m so very sorry Betty. Now I know where you get your sense of humor. Your mom sounds like an awesome woman.(((((hugs)))))

  143. Jewish Steel says:

    On the way home in the van, Mom played the soundtrack of “Cats” on an endless loop at high volume to punish my brother. Twenty years later, he still can’t hear it without involuntary retching.

    I’m totally in awe of this.

    RIP, Mother Cracker.

  144. Burt Hutt says:

    I rarely de-lurk but always enjoy your writing, Betty. As a fellow atheist I hope but don’t believe that there is something out there for good, fun, wonderful people like you and your mother.

    This was a beautiful post.

  145. Nina-the-first says:

    Thank you for this online wake, Ms Cracker. You and yor mom have been a big part of blog life here, and I am honored to have been able to get to ‘know’ your mom–what a woman!

  146. YellowJournalism says:

    Wow, a beautiful tribute to a very interesting, wonderful woman. I’m so sorry for your loss, Betty. Sending mental hugs to you and your family.

  147. Anne Laurie says:

    I’m so sorry, Betty. If the best way to keep our loved ones’ memories alive is to share them, you’ve made a lot more people remember a vivid and joyful woman!

  148. Aleta says:

    My deepest sympathies. In the case of my mom, I knew it was coming, and I prepared myself, but still I was stunned by the hugeness, losing a mother, and my only real parent.

    The grief doesn’t end, but you don’t have to get used to it. It changes and composts and you can keep harvesting.

    Take care. Thinking of you.

  149. Colleen says:

    So very sorry for your loss. Your Mom sounded like one hellava gal and I hope the good memories help you through this. Take care.

  150. Mary G says:

    I’m so sorry to see this and be so late to post, and my heart goes out to you, Betty. I was so hoping that she would pull through. I lost my mom three and a half years ago; she got to the age of 86 and I was still upset that she didn’t make it to 93 like her mother did. Hang in there and thank you for the stories, I feel like laughing and crying both.

  151. metricpenny says:

    My sympathy on the passing of your Mom.

    My thanks for the laughs she brought me today — Savannah better be a girl! LOLOLOL!

  152. Patricia Kayden says:

    Very sorry to hear of your loss, Betty. Your Mum sounded like a winner. Wishing you and your family peace.

  153. Eljai says:

    I’m so very sorry for your loss. Your Mom left this earthly coil way too soon, especially when one considers how much the earth plane needs wise, generous, souls like she was. Thanks for sharing. You and your family are in my thoughts.

  154. opiejeanne says:

    I am so sorry to hear this. Your mom sounds like a real corker.

    Your tribute to her is wonderful and hilarious.

  155. SIA says:

    Dear Betty, I’m so very sorry for your loss of your mom. I’m so late but had to tell you. That was the best eulogy I ever read. Bless you and yours.

  156. Ramalama says:

    That was a great tribute to your mother.

    My dad died this past January. It’s a lonely feeling, losing a parent. His sister lives in Korea doing god knows what since we’re … not at all Asian. Haven’t seen her in 15 years. Now she’s emailing me and joking with me as though I were a little kid. It’s been fun. Same thing for an uncle I thought had written us off.

    I hope your grandmother doesn’t die from the news. Because really other family or close family friends are going to help you out with this.

  157. WaterGirl says:

    It’s day two now, which may be even harder than day one. I’m so sorry, Betty. Nothing can prepare you for losing your mom.

Comments are closed.