At around 10:10am today (July 24th), my mom, Madeline Keifer, left this world to begin a new life. The picture to the left was taken just a couple weeks ago, not long after she entered the hospital.
Mom lost a battle with colon cancer. She had a tumor removed from her colon in May, and 12 weeks later it was discovered that the cancer had metastasized. The growth was extremely aggressive, doubling every two weeks.
She went back into the hospital on June 27th to get her pain under control, and it was then that the doctors told us the bad news.
I am one of six kids that my mother brought into the world. Anybody that can have six kids, and give us the wonderful ‘leave it to Beaver meets The Brady Bunch’ childhoods that we had is certainly a hero to me.
Mom was a registered nurse for over 45 years where she dedicated a good part of her life helping others. She took time off from her career to care for us, and didn’t go back into nursing until my sister (the youngest) was in high school.
She had a wonderful sense of humor, and was an avid Yankees fan. She loved all sports, really, but baseball was her favorite, and she was faithful to the NY Yankees for as long as I can remember.
The last Yankees game that she was able to follow was the game against the Rays, where the Yankees pummeled them 9 to 5 back on the 18th of July.
A couple weeks before, she asked my sister “who’s that man standing in the corner?”. Misty replied, “there’s no one there.” “Yes there is!, who is he?” my mom retorted. “Mom,” said Misty, “there’s no one there”. The room was empty and it was quiet. Misty was the only one in there with her.
About an hour later, mom woke up suddenly and said “She just told me they won… the Yankees just won the game” Misty, a bit taken aback asked “what? who told you?”. Mom said “That lady, she told me that the Yankees just now won the game”. Except for Misty, the room was empty, and it was quiet. Out of curiosity, she switched on the TV and clicked over to ESPN. At the bottom of the screen, a marquee was scrolling which read that the Yankees game just finished, and that they had won 1-0!
Was it just a coincidental hallucination brought on by the pain medicine? Perhaps, but it was quite apparent to me that there were many loved ones on the other side watching over mom & waiting to welcome her when the time came.
After that day, she never saw (or at least never told us) any other people who where not physically there. Her mind was very clear, & she was very aware right up until the end. I’m thankful for that. Even though she was too weak to speak these past few days, she still could get out a phrase here and there. The last thing I told her was “I love you mom”. She replied back several times “I love you Jack”. I embraced her as she fell back to sleep. On some level, I knew that it would be the last time that we would talk to each other & it was comforting to know that our last words to each other were “I love you”.
My sister was a Godsend. She is a school teacher, and with summer break, she practically lived at the hospital. In these final weeks, my mom was afraid to be left alone, and Misty spent many a night with her as well. Being a female, she can help take care of her in ways that only a female can.
My mom was worthy of the title in every sense of the word. She would have given up her last dollar for any of us if need be. She was always there for us, and her love was unconditional. I’m going to miss her smile, her gentle soothing voice, her wonderful sense of humor, and a host of other things that I could spend days listing.
The world seems a darker place without her. Mom lit up the lives of all that were privileged enough to know her. That light has now moved on, but the world is still a little better place because she was in it.
The last few months have been a real hell, especially for her. Back in June, she told me that maybe this was all just a nightmare, and that she would wake up from all of this.
The nightmare is now over mom, and I know that you have awakened to a new life, to be together again with all your loved ones on the other side, free from that painful body which has imprisoned you these past few months.
My mom & dad are now together once again, and I’m sure that amongst all this sadness, there is a happy reunion between them. Here in the physical realm, she is gone forever, but someday we will see each other again. Just knowing that will make even my last day, just a little brighter.
-to be continued…
I will always love you Mom.