For wrong reasons, this was December to remember

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By ROBERT HARRIS
Publisher, Palms West Monthly
Posted Jan. 2, 2018

I’m looking forward to the new year. They say the new year brings with it new hope, a fresh start, a new beginning.

I’m looking forward to the new year because December was not an easy month for me.

Early December is when I lost my mom. Mom was courageous. Mom never acted her age. When it was time to suggest to Mom, who was well into her 80s, that it was time to think about moving into an assisted living facility, her reply was, “But there’s so many old people living there.”

That was Mom.

Did I mention that Mom was courageous?

This past April, Mom, now 90, began her regimen of dialysis treatment three days a week.

She wasn’t done living. Too many grandchildren and great grandchildren she needed to see. Too many things still worth living for. Like a bowl full of steamed mussels she shared with family and friends during an outing to Carrabba’s.

Like the prime rib dinner and piña colada she consumed during another outing.

And then there was the lunch trip to a Mexican restaurant on her 91st birthday in August, hours before she was to see her vascular surgeon. Maybe she shouldn’t have consumed that margarita. She barely made it through her appointment before snoozing off for hours.

Mom loved to eat, and Mom loved those outings.

But Mom also knew when enough was enough. Dialysis made her sick. Violently sick. So sick that she came to the conclusion she had known was coming. She didn’t want to feel sick anymore.

In early December, Mom decided no more dialysis. Mom knew what that meant.

Nine days later Mom passed away. Peacefully and on her own terms, with family holding and rubbing her hands. A music therapist was softly playing Sinatra’s “My Way.”

As sad and painful as her death was, this is how it’s supposed to be. Isn’t this how we all want to go?

My neighbor, Jay, never got that chance. At just 74 years young, Jay’s life was cut short in late December due to the actions of a reckless driver in which, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, alcohol or drugs played a factor.

Jay was doing what he always did, taking his three dogs for a late-night stroll along the safe streets of Wellington. Oftentimes, I would run into Jay during his walks as I would try to get a few more steps logged onto my Fitbit before midnight.

One of his dogs, Riley, would always bark at me from across the street, but as soon as I got close enough Riley would give me a sniff then calm down.

I enjoyed these brief chats with Jay in the darkness and quiet of our street. Now that I think about it, I hardly saw Jay during daylight hours, as work kept us both busy.

The next time I’m out getting some steps before midnight, I’m sure I’ll catch myself looking for Jay or the sound of Riley’s barking.

I guess all I’ll hear is silence.

Pictured above: Palms West Monthly publisher Robert Harris with his mother, Ina Harris.

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