By FotoAlex

Jury duty

My mom died today. She was two weeks shy of her 68th birthday. This is the worst day of my life.

I got a jury summons last month for June 5-30 but didn't get called up until today, the penultimate day of the month. I went in to the courthouse and answered questions and listened to the judge for about 2 1/2 hours before being dismissed. I think serving on a jury would be cool, so I was a little disappointed to get dismissed.

Since I wasn't picked, I logged in to work to start a half-day. I got a little bit done before my phone rang. It was from my mom's phone, which was odd because she never calls me. I was immediately worried. It was my uncle. "Bad news," he said. "Your mom died."

He went to check on her in the morning and give her medications, and he found her on the floor. Here's what I wrote on social media:

She wasn't sick or ailing or anything bad. This was a total shock.
She was such a great mom and person overall. She loved my brother, dad and other family members so much. She put up with so much from my brother and me when we were kids, and she had to deal with our antics while being a caregiver for our sick dad. She stuck through it all, good and bad, thick and thin, and we all prevailed. Even after my dad died when I was 18, she was really what helped hold the family together.

I don't know what else to say. I feel like the world is covered in fog. I am hungry but have no appetite. My wife is in China, so all I have are my pets and my friends' virtual hugs, which I greatly appreciate. Thank you to everyone who has reached out when I contacted you.

She was a great cook and especially a great baker. I really wish I had her fudge recipe. She loved being a teacher and helping her middle-school students learn for over 30 years. She was extremely frugal, which helped her retire early and buy a house to live closer to her brother in Oregon.

I called her roughly every week as of late, and she always told me how much she missed Arizona. She was originally from Ohio, but Arizona had become her home. All of my dad's family is in Arizona, and she missed them. They were truly her family too. She often told me she missed her friends from Kayenta. She liked Oregon despite saying it's the "rainy season" no matter what time of year I'd call her. She had a nice home with a fun backyard that had a gazebo. She took care of the dogs, Nacho and Magic, until the end of their lives. Her cat, Punkin, is still alive and something like 600 years old in cat years. He's going to miss her. She loved him so much and always talked about him.

I last visited her in January. I told her before that I was visiting. She had short-term-memory problems, so when I showed up at her door, it was a surprise to her. How fun. We spent a week together exploring her neck of the woods. We visited Multnomah Falls, where I took this picture (in extras). We went to some cliffs abutting the sea and felt the sea breeze. We went to the Tillamook cheese factory, one of my favorite places. We went to an excellent Mexican place in her city. And we chilled at her house enjoying each other's company. It was a great visit, and I am so, so glad I got to do it.

Hug your family members and friends. Tell them you love them. It's been said so many times before, but you really do not know when you'll see someone last. Send an email or a text. Leave a voice mail. They'll appreciate it. I know my mom enjoyed it every time I called even if she didn't remember it.

I'll miss you, Mom. You were the best. I can't believe I only got 40 wonderful years with you on this planet.

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