Friday, May 11, 2007

Tri-ing on mother's day

I lost my mom on November 30th, 1998 and there's not a single solitary day that goes by that I don't miss her.

She was diagnosed in 1990. She'd spent nearly 30 years morbidly obese. She loved to cook, and loved to eat, and her choice of foods was tragic. She absolutely would not exercise. After losing 100 pounds on a liquid diet, her heart had not reduced in size like the rest of her, and that's when it was diagnosed. Her Grandmother, also very overweight, also died of the same disease.

Idiopathtic dilated cardiomyopathy means, "you're heart's enlarged, and we don't know why."
It means, "you need a new heart."
It means, "there's a 75% chance you'll die in the next five years."

Watching your mother die is mile 21 of a marathon that won't end. The overwhelming sadness as her life slips away is unbearable. When she slipped into a coma the day after Thanksgiving, her heart was pumping 11% of its normal capacity. She died the following Monday, aged of 61.
First, her heartrate soared up to around 200 bpm, and then it stopped. Just. Stopped.

My father, her husband of 43 years, was so grief-stricken I had to pick him up twice. He actually fell down from grief; he hadn't really thought she'd actually go and die on him. He hung around for a while, until this past Christmas, and then he just got tired of being alone.

There are those times when I'm extremely resentful that she didn't take care of herself better. That sounds awful, doesn't it? But grief is a very, very selfish emotion.

My mom will never to see her grandchildren graduate from high school. She never got to meet my Sweet Baboo. She never got to see me get my life together, settle down, and become a teacher. She never got to see me become a runner and a triathlete. She was a talented, professional artist, and loved to take pictures from which she would paint.
I'll never see her at a finish line with her Minolta, snapping away, laughing at my folly.

It's in her memory that I have decided to make the Jay Bensen Triathlon in Albuquerque my annual mother's day celebration.
In her memory I will not become morbidly obese, I will not leave my children motherless too young; I will not leave my Sweet Baboo grief-sticken, haunted, and struggling to cope with being alone. In her memory I will run, bike, and swim on the second Sunday of May.

I don't mean this to be a somber as it sounds. Take care of yourselves, if not for you, then for your loved ones, and have a Happy Mother's Day.



  1. What a touching tribute to your mom. I bet she is still keeping track of your accomplishments and is proud of all you've achieved.
    Good luck at the tri.

  2. You know, all those great things about you that you wrote? Being a teacher? A great mom yourself, a triathlete and having the love of your life and wonderful children....Somehow I bet she knows...I just bet she does!
    Have a great race in her memory!

  3. I think it's a beautiful tribute, and I love the photo of her young and pretty!

  4. As a person who has yet to lose my mother or grandmothers, reading this just made me want to call I did. Good Luck at the tri and I believe you WILL be everything to set out to be (for years and years to come). Thanks for being so inspiring.

  5. HUGS
    I have run the Mother's Day Classic here in Melbourne with my own Mum for the last 4 years, since I became a mum myself. This year my daughter is coming too!(she's doing the 4km walk with her Dad). It's all about being the best Mums we can be, isn't it?
    Enjoy your race tomorrow :)

  6. Lovely post. And how wonderful that you've taken something sad in your life and built something positive around it.

    Good luck at your tri!

  7. I'm sure your mom is very proud of the woman you have become. You're right to be angry that she's not here in person because of something that she could have prevented. You deserve to have your parents, your children deserve their grandparents and it's not fair. Good for you for finding inspiration through it all.

  8. Well here I sit with tears after reading that. My mom passed away also of a heart attack in 2000 and did not take care of herself. It's one of the things that made me want to turn my life around. Thanks for sharing

  9. Fine tribute and personal resolution.

  10. I'm really glad I read this today. I'm visiting my mom this weekend (leaving my own kids behind - they're planning a big SOMETHING for when I get home late tomorrow) and I'm glad to be reminded how much I'd miss her if she wasn't here, since she's kind of getting on my nerves with her bossiness and querulousness. She loves me and I love her and she always means well! We talked about weight a lot this weekend too - we've both struggled with it our whole lives. Anyway, i feel for you and wish you luck in your event - I'll be thinking of you tomorrow!

  11. This was a nice, reflective, very thoughtful, heartfelt post that we can all learn from. Thank you.

  12. you are a very strong person and you should be very proud of yourself. Not everybody can learn from their loss. Thank you for sharing.

  13. Your story sounds so much like my own. I have felt the same way about my mom and her 40+ years of smoking that led to her early death, so I know from where you're coming from. Yet like your mom, she had her virtues. And like you, I wish she had been around longer. A nice memorial and a goal for yourself as well.

  14. You are a very gifted and strong, incredible woman in so many ways. I just have this feeling that your Mom knows this and is proud of you.


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