Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rest in Peace - Maureen Withrow

This past weekend, I went to a memorial service for Maureen Withrow in Fair Oaks, California. I dated her son for three years in my early 20s and had the pleasure of getting to know her and was honored to have been loved by her. She was a strong willed, humorous and generous single mother. And she was her son’s number one fan and biggest supporter. Everything she did, she did for him. In Bobby’s speech, he mentioned that although he didn’t have a father around, he never missed a beat and he always had everything he wanted. I can picture her smiling face and her actually doing everything the stories depicted. She burned down a garage, strategically fought with her siblings and talked back when it called for it. Feisty, like me, Bobby also told us how she last told him she loved her. She adjusted herself in her bed, looked at him, winked and smiled and said ‘I love you.’ I believe she passed within the hour. I was tearing up the majority of the memorial service.

Her niece, Trisha, got up to recite the speech for her father. Coach Bob Jones of Cordova High School and Bobby’s long-time mentor and closest thing to a father figure also got up to confirm his last visit with Maureen and explain what an honor it was to perform their pre-game ritual of a gum exchange one last time. He said he left the hospital room in tears though no one knew. How very touching. I have met Coach Jones once before. Then they had a slideshow of a medley photos from black and white baby photos, school, graduation, pregnant with Bobby, with Bobby as a baby, in San Francisco and of course being on the bowling team with her mother.

The last time I saw Maureen was when she was in the hospital dealing with breast cancer in 2006. As usual, she was in good spirits when other people would think their world is falling apart. She was always the strong one even though she first handedly had to deal with the situation. Ever since then, I have added Maureen to my list of people I walk for in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in San Francisco every year. I already do it for my Auntie Gi in Southern California and my cousin Natalie that passed away in May of 2009. Though I haven’t visited Maureen in Sacramento in years, she was in my thoughts. I always sent her a Christmas card, thought about getting her spoons that she collected whenever I traveled and inquired about her whenever I did chat with Bobby. I’m sorry I didn’t do more.

My experiences with Maureen were wonderful. I was pretty nervous to meet the woman that Bobby held up on a pedestal but I discovered that she and I had some of the same qualities and I hope I will be able to be as good of a mother as she was someday. We got along very well and I fell in love her family. I was taken along for trips to Reno to see the family for the holidays, luncheons and was around for the passing of their mother, Bessie. And through that, Maureen was remained strong. It was wonderful to see the family again after such a long time, with Bobby and I in different stages of our lives, and it warmed my heart to know they remembered who I was by name. After all these years, it was really nice to receive hugs and smiles. I have never experienced interacting with an ex’s family on such an intimate level after years of separating. I thought it was great that we could remain friends, congratulate each other on the changes and successes in each other’s lives and be there for each other in these difficult times. I think Maureen is enjoying the view.

May you rest in peach, Maureen. We love you!

Maureen Cecilia Withrow
July 21, 1942 - January 15, 2011

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