This year marks the 1 year anniversary that my mom, Valerie L. Oser’s passing from Stage-4 metastatic breast cancer. She had already survived stage one, which lasted several years. However, when the coronavirus hit, so did the health problems.
Her problems began around Thanksgiving 2021. She was having back issues, eating problems, and just didn’t feel or seem like her normal self. Soon, she found herself bedridden and unable to move and when she tried to get up she felt a couple times. After her last fall, she went to get checked out at the emergency room. That’s when the diagnosis and fight began. And it was a hard fight.
Anyone that knew my mom knew how she was. The apt word to describe her would be feisty. And if you talk to anyone who knew her, they would agree. She was a presence. In life and now even in spirit.
That’s how her funeral was planned. She wanted it the old-school Catholic way. She wanted her casket to be there with a full mass and a full burial. While we had to simplify and shorten things a bit because COVID-19 levels were still pretty risky at the time, my dad and I made sure she got what she wanted.
She wanted some thing that was very religious but nothing too dingy. That’s kind of how she lived her spiritual life. She watched Mass on TV or wherever she was able to when she couldn’t physically go, prayed the Divine Mercy almost everyday, and went to adoration when she could. She was also very active in church by joining several different parish committees until she decided on singing in the choir with my dad as well as myself. She might not have had the best voice, but she did love singing and she enjoyed the friendships she made.
My mom was the type that if you needed an extra prayer boost, she would give it, even when she was really sick with her cancer and otherwise. In fact, she’d put you on her prayer list that was pretty long. And when that prayer was answered, she’d scratch it off. When she prayed it was always the rosary. And because of her strong spiritual belief, her prayers always seem to come through. That’s one aspect I really do miss about her.
My mom also loved visiting churches. One of her favorites was the Church of Notre Dame in Montreal where famous opera singer Luciano Pavarotti gave his famous Christmas concert performance in 1978. She was also a big fan of other Christian singing artists such as Amy Grant and Sandy Patty. Her favorite classical piece was Handel’s Messiah.
Anyone who heard of my mom’s passing are just in shock. While we were thinking she was going to last at least a couple months where she could feel comfortable at home in hospice, we also did not expect her to go as quickly as she did. However, when she did, those of us who needed to know received a sign of roses, which was her favorite flower.
For me the day of her death it was the smell of fresh red roses. For my cousin Lisa, she just saw some pink roses out of nowhere. And the list goes on.
So now, there is just a small family. It’s just myself and my partner, my dad, and of course her sister and brother-in-law all on the immediate side. One of my mom’s wishes while she was still able to talk was to have us together communicating and supporting each other. That wish has definitely been granted.
During this past year, a few tears have been shed. Sometimes it happens while listening to certain song like “Rivers of Babylon” by Boney M, which I still find difficult. Other times the reality of her absence is felt when the big holidays have passed such as Thanksgiving or Christmas. As a matter of fact, when she was buried, it was on St. Patrick’s Day. So, I guess you could say she got a heavenly Irish blessing.
For those reading this, I hope that this story touched your heart and that you saw something in yourself or someone you loved. I’d like to thank those friends, family members, and other contacts who are reading this for supporting me through this past year, especially those who took their time to connect and say hello. That means a lot and you are the real ones in my life right now.