Recalling mother as she faces end of her life

Published 6:16 pm Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It’s a universal experience — the loss of a parent — and there are no governing rules about age appropriateness for either child or parent.

This week’s column is being written from Chandler Health & Rehab, where my mother, after suffering a second major stroke, seems on her way to making her transition — a euphemism that some may abhor when marking that undeniably final one, but a term I rather like, as I do believe our souls continue to other realms.

Six weeks ago I had this dream: My father, his once young and jaunty self, is driving a 1950s convertible with the cocooned body of my mother in the backseat. She appears much as she has looked this past week.

But even before this week, I made the connection that perhaps he, who passed in 2005, was coming to be at hand for mother when she emerges from her cocoon into life beyond.

Jane Anne and Donald Brookhart were married for 60-plus years, having eloped to Georgia before he went off to Europe mid-World War II.

For 30 years after he returned from service with the 159th Army Corps of Engineers, they ran the family newspaper in Crossville, Tenn., which his grandfather established around 1896.

As newspaper owners, they traveled to places such as Cuba and Alaska before it became a state.

When my father’s health and mind begin to fail him in his mid-’50s, they sold the newspaper and a few years later my mother opened a small travel agency.

There, my father puttered around, proudly advertising his status as ‘General Factotum’ — doing a few errands and conversing at length with everyone he encountered about matters historical or Battle of the Bulge memories.

My industrious mother, who it must be said, squeezed every drop of living from her almost 88 years, visited all the continents except Antarctica with my father in tow.

She was known as a feisty redhead who called the shots and made sure most things went her way.

She has reigned as Our Lady in Purple the past two years from her purple accessorized room in her wheelchair, dressed in purple polka-dot socks and purple Crocs and purple polished nails.

Nurses, aids and visitors have gifted her with objects of purple and have become teary the past few days upon confronting her obviously fading persona.

Let a special loved one hear from you today.

Laura Brookhart can be reached by e–mail at