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Global Leadership Speaker and Premier Work-Life Balance Speaker
Speaking Information at (727) 467-0202 or e-mail info@fawngermer.com

For Mom. Betty Jean Germer, 1926-2013

My name is Fawn Germer, and I am Betty Germer’s Daughter. When I need strength, I always remind myself of that.

Betty Germer was fearless, determined and surefooted in battle. She was stubborn, I was stubborn. We were quite the match, but how we loved each other! If my heart broke, her heart broke. If my heart soared, her heart soared. If I struggled with something, she struggled with it too.

I often wonder what she would have done if she’d had the same opportunities women have today. She was smarter than I. And shrewd! She is the only person I have ever known who actually read insurance policies. Car salesmen ran from her, trembling. The landlord to my father’s drugstore rued the day he signed the lease that she’d negotiated. The contractor on our house wished he’d caught the error in the contract giving her an unlimited budget for flooring. Nothing slipped by my mom.

She always, always, always told me that our most important lesson was to “face life.” I wondered what she knew about such a thing, considering her comfortable life. But, when she was 66, she suffered a stroke. A terrible, blow-it-out, paralyzing stroke that forced her to spend the rest of her time facing life.

She was so funny.  One home care worker asked her, “Betty, have you had a bowel movement today?” Mom looked her in the eye and said, “No. Have you?”

When I moved home to Florida to be closer to Mom and Dad, I bought a house that was really lovely.

“Hey Ma, did you ever think  I’d live in a home so much nicer than yours?” I teased.

“Well, my home is something that yours is not,” she said.

“What?” I asked.

“It’s paid for.”

My favorite caper was the day I borrowed my friend’s remote controlled fart machine. I hooked it to the back of Mom’s wheelchair while she was intently watching the Florida, Florida State game at my house. At just the right moment, I clicked the remote. It made a beautiful fart noise!

“Cut that out,” she told me.

“It’s not me,” I said. “She who smelt it…”

She looked at Daddy and he shook his head no.

Mom pointed at my Golden Retriever. “It’s her.”

“Really?” I put the dog out on the patio. Then I made the machine fart again.

“Stop it, Fawn.”

Another fart. She looked at my Sheepdog, Buster.

Buster was sent to the patio. Then the cat was banished. Then Daddy. Then me. Daddy and I watched from outside the sliding glass doors with all the innocent pets. I pushed the remote again. Two or three more farts. Ma’s eyes got big as she looked around. Fart! Fart!

Papa and I were dying.

Fart, fart, fart! That machine was the best invention ever!

Finally, we went back inside.

She looked me straight in the eye. “I think you put a fart machine in here.”

You never pulled one over on Betty Germer.

In 2001, she started showing signs of Alzheimer’s Disease. She suffered so long and so hard, and anyone who tries to sugar coat it is in denial. Mom endured an existence that no one wants. Yet, she faced her life with courage and joy. What a hero she was.

Her illnesses changed her physical appearance and took away her intellect and her voice. But, when those things are stripped away, what is left? It’s you. Your core. What matters is love and family and God and health and warmth and fresh air and the sound of the wind and your senses of smell, taste, sound, sight, and touch and food and shelter. Whatever transpires beyond the basics is irrelevant.

Even in the end stages of her disease, she was still my mom. She smelled like my mom, she was warm like my mom. If I hugged  her or touched her, I felt so much love – even if she didn’t even open her eyes or look at me. I had a mom who surfaced only occasionally, but existed in a big way as she faced life so bravely. I would often wonder where she was, hoping to God that she didn’t have to spend endless days trapped in nothingness for hours on end. I don’t know what was going on in there. Maybe nothing, maybe everything.

All these years, I’d climb in bed with her and cuddle. When she could still communicate, we’d gossip in bed for hours. After she moved to the nursing home, I’d just hold her because I felt it was so important that she be hugged and held. She loved it so much. Me too.

What I wouldn’t give now to talk to her, just once, for even 20 minutes. I would ask her what the last seven years have been like. How much did she know? What did she feel. Was she suffering? Did we make the right decisions? Did she know that, as a family, we were having problems without her at the helm? To be honest, it’s been like we’ve been driving a car with three wheels. You know that when we are all together again, there is going to be a nice, long Betty Lecture.

I was in bed beside her when she died Friday morning. After she passed, Daddy looked at the woman he had loved so deeply and cared for with such devotion. He said, “Fifty-nine years. Fifty-nine years! Three hundred and sixty-five days a year for fifty-nine years. Wow. What an amazing woman. Wife. Mother. Daughter. University of Michigan graduate. Teacher. Wow. Fifty-nine years.”

It was so hard to walk away from her after she died. I looked at her, but she was gone.

I had to fly to Dallas that night to do a speech the next day. My voice cracked for the first two sentences, but then I found my strength. I held my power.

And that was when I realized where my mother had gone. She was inside of me.

I am Betty Germer’s Daughter.

 

19 Comments
  1. Beautiful, Fawn! Thank you for sharing. Sending you and your family prayers.

  2. Fawn, having lost my parents years ago,I know your sadness.I lost my dear cousin this past year as well. Though it is not an easy journey, it is part of life. You can always talk to your mom. Her energy will never cease. Love you and my thoughts are with you today. Bev

  3. Beautiful Teamy- Perfection, 100%. That Betty has been inside of you all along, Im glad you feel her- we always have. I love you!!!!!

  4. You are im my thoughts and prayers…

  5. Fawn:
    You honored your Mom in such an incredible way. May her strength, wisdom and love continue be your guide for life.
    My deepest condolences to you and your family.
    Love,
    Helayne

  6. Wonderful Fawn, can’t wait to hear. I think all will love it.

  7. Fawn, I’ve always told people I have a wonderful, smart
    cousin, that they should check your website as well as
    your books! I read the eulogy for you mother there were
    times I cried. I think this was the best and I know the most
    important piece you have ever written. I see so much
    of your mother in you. The part about the fart machine
    Had me laughing I was in tears. The fact you were able to
    Go to your speaking engagement after your Mother
    passed proves beyond a doubt that your mom is still with
    you and you are a part of her. I love you my wonderfully talented
    Beautiful cousin. I pray for you and your wonderful Dad.

  8. Oh, Fawn. This is so beautiful! It brought tears to my eyes! You’re absolutely right. Betty (your mom) is inside of you now and forever more. Much love and light to you…Jacqueline

  9. Fawn,

    That is very beautiful and touching. And
    I felt the same way when Dad died. I did not want to leave his bedside and I think I felt guilty when I did. We will miss Aunt Betty tremendously.

  10. Fawn, What a fitting, touching tribute to your beloved Mom. Was so deeply touched by your knowing how important hugging and cuddling her were, Humans shrivel up and die with out another humans touch. I am a huge believer that they extend your life and feed your soul. God bless you and keep you and your family. Your Mom’s spirit is soaring free, grateful for, and Oh so proud, of all you are. Hugs.

  11. Fawn,
    As usual you amaze me. You are so good in so many many ways. Now I know why. Beautiful sweetheart.
    Love you,
    JK

  12. I wish I had known your mother. What an elegant photo of her! I loved your stories about her and her strong sense of self. I now know more of her through you. I just know she felt your presence the later years. I am sorry for the pain that comes with her death. Peace to you and your family, dear friend. Love ya, Dana

  13. What a beautiful eulogy Fawn! My deepest condolences to you and your loved ones. Big hugs… Jackie

  14. Fawn, this is beautiful. So much like (but also many differences from) the experience I’ve had losing my father last year. She gave you a great gift, and you’re giving the gift back.

    Gray

  15. Thank you for sharing this. Makes me appreciate and miss my Mom and hug my kids. Be gentle with yourself.

  16. Dear Fawn,
    This is such a beautifully touching tribute to your mom–I understand so much more about who you are as a person and see the influence and love she offered to you during her life. She will always be a part of you and as one who knows from experience, once the sorrow lessens over time, joyful memories replace it. I am so sorry for your loss, so happy to know more about her, and so grateful that you are my friend.
    Luci

  17. Hi Fawn,
    What a beautiful, moving eulogy. Thank you for sharing it.You’re both amazing women. XO, CC

  18. FAWN I HAVE NEVER HAD THE PLEASURE OF MEETING YOU OR YOUR MOTHER, BUT I NEW MR GERMER VERY WELL DOING MY VISIT TO FLORIDA AND RITE-AIDE. I HAVE ENJOYED YOUR TRIBUTE TO YOUR MOM AND DAD THANK YOU FOR THE CHANCE TO SHARE YOUR LOVE FOR YOU PARENTS. I AM ODIE THOMAS’S SISTER AND I LIVE IN COLORADO SPRINGS COLORADO. MY SINCERE PRAYERS ARE WITH YOU. LOVE AND BEST WISHES

  19. Thank you Ms.Germer for sharing ;my prayers are for you tonight!

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