On Luck and Loss – Goodbye Mom

My mom died on Saturday, following my Dad in 2016 and my brother Doug in 2018.

Well, shit.

Okay, that’s out my of system now (fair warning: it’s probably not).

A two-time breast cancer survivor, Grandma Jan’s heart gave out after several years fighting the impact of scleroderma and pulmonary hypertension. The isolation of the past year was tough on her as well, limiting her time with treasured friends and family; if you ever knew her, you know how social she was!

But I like to think she went out in her way.

A medication change a few weeks back gave her a bit more energy, and we finally got her to our new house for Father’s Day, where we arranged a surprise visit from Ann, Will, and Maggie for an afternoon pool party.

She was so happy to be here, sitting on our deck laughing at the pool madness, sitting on a stool at our counter, getting a basement tour from Aly, eating pizza and bump cake with all the grandkids.

She came back Monday for a few more hours of visiting before heading back to Rochester. She firmed up her commitment towards returning to Maine this summer, later in August.

Building on confidence from her trip to Holland, she headed to Cleveland on Friday for a wedding shower at her sister’s house and was delighted to be there surrounded by family she hadn’t seen for so long. She walked around the garden beds, taking pictures of all the plants to send me and show me how proud she was of Mary Lou’s hard work, and asking me to send pictures of our house that she could show off. Classic Jan.

After the shower, she was still visiting with Baker family (my cousins), but got very tired and then was gone, comforted and surrounded by the family she so so so adored. She didn’t suffer at the end, and we’re all thankful for that.

My parents have a stunning number of truly great friendships, but my mom even moreso. Despite only a few days passing between her leaving our house on Monday and going to Cleveland on Friday, many people I called with the sad news had already heard from her about her visit to our house. 

About those calls – they’re tough in a way, because I know I’m delivering news to someone that cared about my mom, maybe cared for my mom, and definitely was cared about by my mom. And so many of those calls were me leaving voicemails – please know when I choked up on your answering machine it’s because I felt the weight of your loss from the impact that you and my mom had on each others’ lives.

If you read this and want to share a call – tell me how to contact you and I’ll call. Or email me. My email is pretty simple: ted [at] (use the @ between the teds).

I also love those calls and have selfishly made as many as I can myself. I get a tiny glimpse into the part of my parents’ lives with people who weren’t their kids like I am, but instead from people who got to choose to share coffee/wine/vacation time/letters/phone calls/book recommendations/prayers/email chains/friendships with my parents as people, not just the parents I saw. 

“Got” and “choose”. Good segue material.

I’m gutted by not only another individual loss from my original nuclear family (my MOM even), but also now the totality of it. In less than five years I’ve gone from having all of them to being the only one left. I never expected to be the last one standing, and certainly not at 47. It has a finality to it that I am not okay with.

I feel horrible loss when I realize that all of the inside jokes, arguments about what happened when, jokes about who threw up where, every single one of the “hey remember that time…” from our family times in my first 18 years….. are all now limited to my imperfect memory, and that carries a weight of loneliness that will probably lighten with time but I know will never alight entirely.

It’s like all of those things we shared are less, well, shared, now. I don’t know if that feeling is going to heal entirely. Shit.

Oh. The segue.

I’m not sure if all families who adopt their kids are like this, but we all took a special pride in using got instead of “had” when talking about how Doug and I joined the Goudie family. It was one of those inside jokes, but used so widely that everyone knew we talked that way.

Many more pictures from Jan’s life are in the gallery at the bottom of this post.

With the wisdom of hindsight, I realize how incredibly lucky I was to be adopted into this family, where they quite literally chose me.  I don’t mean just Bill and Jan, but also Doug (another lucky one himself), and then the extended Goudie and Matilo families. Words cannot express how grateful I am to have lucked into such amazing families, only reinforced by events of the past few days.

The luck continues with my amazing wife Rachel and the fact that we’re somehow raising two great kids in Aly and Leah. And that we’re so close with Ann, Will, and Maggie, plus so many in Rachel’s family. So much to be thankful for.

There will be more good times ahead, I have no doubt. Some other times too of course, because we simply don’t get to choose everything all the time. 

Goodbye and thanks, Mom/Grandma Jan. 

Scroll down for a gallery with several hundred images of my mom 🙂 

If you missed the (shorter) posts I wrote when my Dad died and Doug died, here they are:

If you’d like to join us celebrating Jan, we’ll be having a visitation on Friday, July 9th from 3-8pm at:

Her funeral service will be on Saturday, July 10th at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Rochester (620 Romeo Street, Rochester, Michigan 48307).

  • Visitation: 10am 
  • Service: 11am 


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    Everyone loved your Mom- . She was so interesting and cold carry on a conversation about anything. We
    admired what she was able to accomplish when she wasn’t very well.Her ability to get to her home in Maine
    was amazing ! She will be missed!!!!!

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