When my mom stopped going to bingo seven nights a week, she said she just couldn't afford to go as much any more. When she dropped down to going only three nights a week, my sister and I knew something was wrong. She lived for bingo.
She complained of being tired all the time, and that her hip and back were bothering her. So my sister got her in to see a different doctor, and we found out what the problem was: terminal lung cancer that had already spread to her throat and brain.
On Monday, my mom passed away. She was at home, and I was fortunate enough to be there with my sister as my mom took her last breath. She was 75 years old.
The three months or so of watching this unfold were filled with a lot of sad moments. Anyone who's ever had someone they love go out this way knows how horrible cancer can be. My heart goes out to you, knowing that you may have watched your loved one suffer far greater and far longer than my mom did.
My mom was married for 39 years (pretty sure that's right) until my dad died in '98. There were three of us kids (my brother died five years ago). She had six grandchildren, and was about a month away from the birth of her first great-grandchild.
My mom was a really special person. Everyone liked her, and she was pretty much always happy. She led life with her heart and with a lot of common sense. While she was always there to bail you out of a jam, it came with the price of a long talk about being more responsible.
It's pretty incredible that this life-long coffee shop waitress and her husband (a local truck driver) raised three children in Elmhurst. It was even more incredible that she adopted her sister's 3-year-old son after his mother passed away. That was me.
So for that alone, I will always be grateful. They took me in so seemlessly and with such love that I never thought to call them anything but "mom" and "dad."
There's so much I wish I had learned from my mom. The opportunities were there again and again, as she set the standard on working hard, saving money, helping others and just being a decent person.
Some of the examples she set for me never quite took. But I know I wouldn't be half the man I am now unless I absorbed at least some of her life lessons.
The great Bingo Hall in Heaven better be prepared. Nancy Noble has arrived.
Visitation will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10, at Pedersen-Ryberg Mortuary, 435 N. York St., Elmhurst. A memorial service will follow at 7 p.m. at the funeral home.