Sunday, June 21 began for… (edit)

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… me at 5 AM. I had slept in the bed that had been set up in the dining room from when my cousins visited the week before. Just around the corner in the living room was Mum in the hospital bed I had bought in January.I had stayed up the night before and allowed myself some sleep when I was satisfied that her breathing was regular.

I wished her good morning, administered a dose of medication and when I saw that her breathing was regular told her I would not be far away. I then brushed my teeth and sat to blog an update from the events of the day before. Once posted I also burned another cd of music she liked. For the 2 days previous music had been a constant… primarily from a cd I had made for her in 2004 that she enjoyed… songs I knew she liked. I thought a wider selection of songs would be nice. I went back and popped the cd in… new music… but still stuff she liked.

I sat with her for a while. Told her that I loved her very much and that I was starting my chores for the day… feeding the dogs and watering the vegebeds. Once completed I went back in with a cup of coffee and listened to more music with her. The cd I had burned earlier came back into its second rotation.

I opened the front door to let the (unusually) cool air ( for June) enter the house. I told her I would step out to water the ferns out front and would be back shortly. Ella Fitzgerald was singing “Take the “A” train” on the cd player. When I returned the song was still playing. I noticed her breathing had stopped. I checked but could not find a pulse. She was still warm. I kissed her forehead and thanked her for being my mother. On the cd player Tony Bennett sang “The way you look tonight”.

I placed a call to the hospice then stepped outside the house and placed calls to several friends who have been stalwarts in helping me through this time. As I did Nat King Cole sang “Smile” on the cd player.

The morning was gorgeous outside with streams of sunlight filtering through the branches of the trees on the street. The air was crisp and cool. Mum could not have picked a more beautiful morning nor a more perfect soundtrack to gracefully make her exit.

EDIT: Monday, June 22, 9 AM

I’ve decided to add the three songs that were mentioned in this blog post.


  1. She was a wonderful, wonderful, giving lady who touched the lives of so many people and left us all the better for it. She was a great mother, and for that you can be proud, because you made it easier for her by being a great son.

    I’m glad, happy, proud, blessed to have known her (and thankful, for her letting sleep all over the house, not to mention feeding me). This world would be a far, far nicer place if everyone had an Auntie Gertie.

  2. B, many many fond memories of Mum. So agree with Vincent’s last line. Loved your post… thanks for sharing her last moments with us.

  3. I am saddend by Auntie’s passing, still my heart is warmed by recollections of her and my experiences of her big heart.

    Its been 33 years since I have seen her, she will not forgotten. I like to pay tribute to the indelible mark that she has left on me, and I am sure, on many others, her generosity, love and grace for all who came her way, her encouragement in facing the life’s challenges with steadfastness and overcoming. Her legacy lives on in all whom she has touched.

    My most memorable Christmas was at her home in KL back around 1974 or 5. If I knew how to post a picture on your blog, I would share the photo from that night …..

    Leong Kwok… thank you for your wonderful words. I’m posting the picture you speak of for you.


  4. I’m looking forward to seeing some more pics, even though I know you’ve posted some in the past. I agree, the soundtrack was perfect.

  5. what love to continue giving in the details of even the music you played for her in her last days and hours. and perhaps it was a gift to you in the moments and songs to which she made her exit. of course you are of the mindset to look for the beautiful gifts even in the midst of sadness. i’m so grateful for you that they were there to find. i’m all welled up thinking about it. hugs to you, my friend. many hugs.

  6. Love you so much, I’m so very glad mom passed peacefully and with beautiful music on.

  7. Mum did choose an amazing moring and I know you and she are at peace. Thank you for being strong through this, thank you for being there for her, and thank you I know she appreciates and loves you.

    Big hugs my friend. Now it’s time for rest. 🙂

  8. So beautiful how you made her the music to listen to….very thoughtful and sensitive of you. And how appropriate that her journey to the Summerland began on Summer Solstice….
    My thoughts are with you….

  9. My love to you Marcel. What a beautiful tribute and she is so blessed to have had you there to assist in her passing over in such a wonderful, magical way. I agree with your cousins, EVERYONE should be so lucky to have an Aunt Gertie. I will be with you all in Spirit on Saturday.

  10. {sigh} and {smile}

  11. I love the Gertie’s Soundtrack.

  12. I am very happy for you and her that saying goodbye was so peaceful and on such a beautiful morning. I feel blessed that I had the chance to meet your Mum.

  13. semi-gloss lacquer

    Marcel, it was an honor to have been around your Mum those days, and to hear her stories.

    Meeting her, listening to her, I thought these things:
    I was grasped by a sense of dignity, wisdom, and intelligence that is so very rare, and not from this age,
    -everything about her was class and patience,

    -how I have never met a woman so proud of her son.

    How you both look at people with the same shy, wise, gaze.

    Bless you both.


  14. My memories are always of you caring for her.

    My memories of her are of loving to see us, treating me like gold, insisting I sit and chat, and always offering food she didn’t have. The consumate host.

    And you, the essential son.

    I only hope you now care for yourself and your loss and sorrow half as well as you cared for your mum.

  15. Hi Marcel
    My tears just rolled out with the beautiful sound track that mum chose to exit with dignity.
    though the years and geographical barriers keep families apart but memories never fade espeacially with the nunis clan so marcel all we can say is you were everybit a son your mum ever wanted and she thought you well
    love cousin Amy

  16. Music has such a power to connect souls and you told this tale brilliantly.
    I’ve only read this one post (will read some more) but must say your Mum found an ‘angel’ in you. I used to play music for a living and know of its power; it is simply prayer with a melody.
    The songs that were playing were of no surprise to me as the man upstairs can be quite poignant when he needs to be.
    Thanks for sharing this last bittersweet moment with your Mum.
    You are both in my prayers tonight.
    Lighting two candles . . .

    ps. I was sent here by ‘Lolly’

  17. When it comes my time to go, I hope it will be as gently as beautifully as this. My condolences on your loss.

    (Sent over by Lime.)

  18. Lime sent me here and I am so glad I came. How powerful is this amazing blogland that I can be weeping for someone I never knew. The music is my music, the love and care you gave your mother is what I would like to have from my children. My very sincere condolences for your loss.

  19. Came over from Lime’s blog and also noticed you’re on Kate’s blogroll (a good friend of mine).

    Sorry about your loss. That’s how I want to go though, in bed, listening to my favorite tunes.

    Music is everything. Sounds like you’re an awesome son. You had her favorite tunes ready for her. I hope Junior knows what songs to pick for me when it’s my time.

  20. I came by way of Lime’s blog. I wanted to say how beautifully you shared your last day with your mom with us.

    Death is such a harsh enemy, though our eventuality from birth is set. Sounds like you had such a lovely relationship with your mom. I’m truly sorry you must face this sadness.

    May you find comfort in cherished memories, in music, in smiles, and in strength of others.


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