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  • Garry Gooding

Goodbye Mom: My loss is Heaven’s gain.


Well, in spite of my wishes, my Mother, Velma Mary Gooding, went to join her husband, Jack, and sons, Gary Jack and Thomas Steele, on September 28, 2018. Though I am deeply saddened that she is gone, my focus is on celebrating her life, which she managed to live to its fullest to the very end.


Mom chose to pass when her last two sons were away. We were at my son Jamie’s wedding. The last time I talked to her was via FaceTiming with the bride, Annie, and Jamie right after the ceremony. She was alert, aware, and joyful. Velma had already been blessed with many great-grandchildren, and great-great-grand children but longed to see her last grandchild married.  And she’d made it.


The way Mom managed her own death was just another example of how incredibly selfless she was in life.


There are too many examples of Velma’s unselfishness and generosity to mention here. They could fill a book. Her role modeling is certainly reflected in the lives of her descendants. In her final days many of them sacrificed time, money, and energy at her bedside, writing, and calling. Mom’s family clearly did so out of love and because that was what “Grandma” would have done.


I have never known another person who so willingly made all the hard decisions and plans as she aged totally on her own. Velma didn’t want her children having to face any of those-contentious conversations often required with an elderly parent.


Some of those choices included moving from sunny Florida to be near her sons in cold Illinois (she was always cold), gave up her car, planned her funeral down to her obituary and clothes to wear, and left behind a list of who got what from her final possessions. She did all this to make it easy on us.


Other mothers have lived longer, had more descendants, been more famous, and, had more money. You would be hard pressed, however, to find someone with a more loving family and enduring friendships. These devotees provided a constant stream of support and love until the very end.


Mom’s passing leaves holes in my life that will never be filled. But what I will miss most is the flow of information she shared about everyone in her life every week. She always had news from the many calls and visits since my last call. Velma was the communication conduit for all the family and friends. Now, I wonder who can or will take on that role, let alone become the model of a mother’s life well lived?


I lost the best gift I ever received last week. My loss is Heaven’s gain. Goodbye, Mom, for now.

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