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Joanne Decembrio

September 2002….we were in “God knows what stage” of grieving after suddenly losing our Dad in March, 2001. OK…not dealing with our own grief yet….mostly just worried for Mom. She was so depressed….not outwardly….always would put a smile on her face for you….but he went so suddenly…we were all just numb. My birthday is September 20th. My Mom gave me this great birthday card with the magnet in the photo attached….I took it right off and put in on the fridge….it’s been there ever since. That is her in the pics on either side….on the left she was visiting my brother in Ireland…that’s my nephews Brendan and Karl in the pic with her…they spent an unusually sunny day at the local zoo. Every time my Mom visited Ireland…they had a week of sunshine….that picture was taken earlier that Sept….her last trip there. The picture on the right is my Mom, Me and my GrandMom Julia (her Mom)….I had just graduated from nursing school. 1993. Fun party….lotsa laffs. That’s my younger brother’s Chuck Taylors…. Anyway….back to Fall 2002. My Mom was starting to beg off of invites out….saying she was too tired, had this weird pain in her shoulder, etc…. We thought she was just depressed. By November that year, we found that the shoulder pain was referred tumor pain from lung cancer in her right lung and in the hilar region….all around the great vessels of her heart. It’s so hard even typing this….the tears really go…. As a Cardio-Thoracic ICU nurse….I knew how bad her CT scan was….really hard to face that….and face her. I took care of her over the next two and a half months….reporting all the details long distance to my brothers who had left Philly long ago…. I made sure they all got in during the holidays that year….that was when she went on hospice…. on Christmas Eve believe it or not. And Andy, who lived in Ireland…they had a really special relationship…both super artistic & music lovers…..he couldn’t fathom how sick she was as the last time he saw her in Sept….well, you can see in the picture…she looks great. We got him back to the U.S. just in time. Thank God. He and I were the last two voices she heard as she left this world….”We love you, Mom……we love you so much….….” We said that over and over as we held her and she took her last breaths on January 14, 2003. I was 36, but at that moment….I felt like I was 6. I failed to mention, her Mom….GrandMom Julia passed two weeks prior. She was 98 and never even knew her daughter was ill….my mother’s wishes….and the longest walk I ever took…to Mom’s bedside to tell her that her own mother had passed. We had a heck of a few years…..we sure did. Now when I hear that someone has lost their parent…I make such an effort to reach out….I think it’s our duty to….just to say, we understand the loss. OK, so here goes….the magnet from the last birthday card that my Mom gave me reads: “Daughter ~ today and always, please know that I see you. I see the path you’ve made that’s all your own. I see the many unique talents and gifts you have to share. I see your brilliance, your enthusiasm and how deeply you care and hurt sometimes. I see your hard-earned wisdom, your soft pure innocence, your courage and compassion, your unconditional goodness. I see what a difference you make in this world, and I hope you know how very much I love you, and how proud I’ll always be to have a daughter as wonderful as you. “ She may not have realized it at the time…but I like to think of that as my Mom’s parting words to me. Thanks for the opportunity to share my story. Our story….my Mom and Me. I am so looking forward to hearing yours in April, Jonatha… Hope all is going well in NYC. Joanne D. from Philly XOXO 

-Joanne Decembrino