Ann Elizabeth Morse
January 13, 1938 – December 14, 2004
My mother had a massive head bleed in June of 1997, or 1998, I find it hard to believe now, but I honestly don’t remember when, it might have even been 1996. Or even July or August. She fought it for about a year, then gave in. A lot of people would have never fought so hard, but she wasn’t like that. She gave it everything she had, till there was nothing left but a shadow of what she once was. Then, the waiting began.
I wrote the following during the time between her death and her funeral. That was a strange time, mourning her loss while happy it was finally over. I had prayed for it to end for years, when it finally did, profound sadness filled the space where I thought would be relief. I felt I owed her something, some token of appreciation, acknowledgement of her life, and her personality that I was never able to convey while she lived.
The priest at the church where we had the service wasn’t very happy with my insistance on giving the eulogy. Things like this get out of control, he said, and the flow of the mass is interrupted. I think if he knew my mother, and realized he was dealing with my mother’s son, he would have been more accomodating. In the end, we prevailed.
I hope she heard it, and wish I had said it when it mattered.
I struggled whether on not to post this, but in the end figured it’s about her, not me, and maybe her memory will give somebody a smile. Maybe even her…
Happy Mother’s Day, Ma. We miss you.
December 18, 2004
Though she waited a long time, I’m sure our mother is at peace. When she was well, she lived her life with a passion few of us will know. She was unpredictable, a little bit wild and brutally honest. I always knew exactly where I stood with her, she never, as she was fond of saying, “beat around the bush.” If there was a problem she let you know it, usually by saying, “I’ve got a bone to pick with you, then engaging in some heated discussion. She loved a good fight, and fought to the end, never surrendering. But she always fought fairly, and when the smoke cleared she harbored no resentments. She was very forgiving.
She taught her children that nothing worth anything was free, and to succeed you had to take matters into your own hands. There were no free rides in life. Whining was unacceptable, and tattletales faced worse punishment than whoever was being tattled on.
She taught us to fight our own battles, at first this was a difficult lesson to learn, but by learning that lesson she did her job as a mother got her children ready to take their place in the world, and be prepared to face an uncertain future.
She loved her family. Every day the phone would ring and I would hear the familiar response, “hello, how are you?” and knew it was one of my aunts or my grandmother calling for the daily update. They shared a closeness that became a part of our home, it was very comforting to know and feel the love and concern they had for each other.
There were many friends over the years, but her family kept her centered. She loved having company and treated her guests well. I always knew from the compliments I overheard that my mother was one of the best cooks and the most gracious hostesses there was. I was proud that she was my mom.
She had a sharp wit and was ready to argue her political beliefs and could hold her own with anybody. Her love of literature, especially the classics such as Wuthering Heights and Gone with the Wind enhanced her personality and helped to make her articulate. The closeness she held with her family, and the bonds they formed with each other over the years are what made her last few years on earth bearable.
Jean, Kathy and Eileen visited every week, brought her things and provided comfort to what otherwise would have been a dreary existence. Brian read to her, every week and helped keep her focused. Because my mother was unable, it is my privilege to say thank you for her. You are fortunate to have each other.
She listened to her own advice well. The stroke that crippled her and ended her life as we knew it, slowed her down but never broke her spirit. I marvel at her ability to adjust to life as we last remember her. She could have been impossible, a real Sarah Bernhard as I have been told she had a tendency to be when she lived on Aberdeen Ave. Instead, she handled herself with remarkable courage and dignity. I know that she spent her last years on this earth heartbroken and frustrated, yet her willingness to accept her fate made thing easier on her family.
She was the perfect match to my father. “Ann & Bob” were so well liked by everybody words never had to express it. I always felt that the party started when the Morses showed up, and was pretty much over when we left. I loved that about my parents. They were larger than life, and I miss them.
I can’t help but think of my mother as my father’s other half. Since his passing, there hasn’t been very much joy in my mom’s life. They were inseparable, each only half without the other. They are gone now, but will never be forgotten. They accomplished some great things during their stay on earth, and had much more to do.
Sadly, they ran out of time. I like to think they are whole again, and can see that their lives had a great impact on those they left behind, and their memory and spirit will live with us forever.