I refer to my mom by her first name, and if you follow this blog, you already know a lot about Flo. Over the years, you may have read:
- that she was only 45 years old when our dad died, and from then on she worked full time and raised us on her own
- a post called Flo on the Pot about her first-ever massage and her first-ever phone call from a hotel bathroom on her 92nd birthday
- that she has enough faith in her blind daughter to have me take care of her overnight by myself after she had out-patient surgery for a malignant melanoma
- about her dance with a young handsome stranger at a Louisville jazz club on her 93rd birthday
- how she partied at Hackney’s with bartender Billy Balducci, Mike, my sisters and me after my presentation at the 2009 Printer’s Row Book Fair
- how we celebrated her 95th birthday in 2011 on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Building in Chicago
- a post called Because the night belongs to Flo where she explains that she only wanted two kids, and how it is that she ended up with seven
Hmm. Maybe I’ll end the list with the link to that last provocative post. What can I say? The gal is game! You can count on Flo to rise to the occasion – she goes with the flow.
Flo celebrated her 98th birthday last month at the rehab facility she’s been staying at the past couple months for physical, occupational and speech therapy. She’s made a lot of progress, and when we celebrate Mother’s Day with her there this weekend, she’ll be full of news about her new apartment: next week she’s scheduled to transition into assisted living. She’s feeling downright positive about this next chapter in her life, and that is thanks in large part to our sensational sister Cheryl.
Cheryl had been stopping to check in every single day when Flo was still living independently in her condo, and she is still at Flo’s side every day at the rehab facility. She stops at the condo first to pick up Flo’s mail — thanks to all of you who’ve sent cards and letters, Flo loves getting mail. Cheryl does Flo’s laundry and brings clean clothes along, attends meetings with doctors, nurses, therapists and social workers, then translates the medical jargon into wording that Flo can understand.
And now that Flo has opted to move to assisted living rather than return to her condo, Cheryl’s been helping figure out what Flo should bring to the new digs and what to leave behind, packing boxes and filling out paperwork. Cheryl and her children have been moving select pieces of furniture and other belongings to the new place bit by bit, and it’s already set for the big move.
Cheryl has been doing all this without a complaint, and she shrugs off our gratitude with a that’s-what-you-do attitude that I think she inherited from you-know-who: Flo.
Mike, Whitney and I visited Flo at the rehab place Monday night and found her in great spirits, eager to show off her new place. It’s connected to the rehab facility, so Mike wheeled Flo over while I gave Whitney the “Follow!” command to bring up the rear. “Look at that!” Flo cooed. “Cheryl even put my mother and dad’s wedding picture up, it’s right there above my bed.” She pointed the photo out to Mike and described the oversized old oval frame it’s in so I could, you know, picture it.
Mike sent an email to my out-of-state brother and sisters after our visit and told them, “the place looks like…Flo’s!” He pointed out how Cheryl had already hung a lot of other pictures on the walls and that Flo’s own pull-out couch and kitchen table are already set up there. “Even the Bose radio,” he told them. “I can hear Prairie Home Companion already.”
Happy Mother’s Day, Flo. You’re an inspiration to us all.