Monday, December 28, 2020

Kathleen Anne (Sullivan) Hirsch

In Loving Memory

Kathleen Anne (Sullivan) Hirsch, my mother, passed away on December 21st 2020 at 6:20 in the morning. She is survived by her husband, sons, daughter-in-law and grandchildren. 

She would have wanted me to write her obituary, we shared a love for writing. But, here's the thing with obituaries, nobody reads newspapers anymore and moreover, and they're expensive. I remember my uncle urging my mother to write an obituary for her mother, Dorothy. I called the newspaper to ask what the cost would be, and it was outrageous. Over a thousand dollars for one medium-length paragraph. So this will be different. 

My mom was born on April 22, 1946 in Newark, New Jersey. The family moved to California when she was a young child. She was the third of seven children and often took care of her four younger siblings. She studied journalism at USC, and forged a career in public relations. In 1970, she married my father and had two sons - my brother and I. In 1984 she endured an injury that would change her life. It was a simple fractured foot that, due to a litany of medical incompetence, would lead to a lifetime of doctor visits and hospital stays.

My earliest memory of her was when I was two or three years old, she was giving me a bath. I remember the feel of the warm water, the soft wash cloth, especially when she washed my face. I didn't like that part. And when she would hold my hand at Disneyland. She held so tightly. She was always afraid my brother and I would get away from her and she'd lose us.

The thing about my mom was that she was an eternal optimist. She always did everything she could to raise everyone's spirits. She was always there for us no matter what. At the hardest of times, she was at her best. And there were many hard times. My mom could light up a room with her smile and her attitude; she could turn Spam into dry-aged filet mignon.

I never understood why God chose the life he chose for her, always sick, always having to deal with one medical catastrophe after another. I understand that He tests us, to temper us, as the Bible says, but while my brother, father and I certainly had our own difficulties, my mom seemed to get a double serving. Many times I found myself wondering why, on so many levels, why her? But my mom's resolve was like Job's. She never ever cursed God. Such faith, she never showed any animosity toward Him. In fact, on most days, you'd never even know anything was wrong. I know one thing is for certain, like Job, she has inherited the Kingdom of Heaven. I like to think that she's there with her best friend Patti, our neighbor in California, who passed almost exactly a year ago from cancer, as well. I like to imagine the two of them enjoying time together, painting t-shirts like they did in the 80s. I like to ponder how she feels, happy, healthy and young again; complete.

I was very close to my mother, maybe closer than brother. We could talk for hours. I liked to call her after I got done with work, she was always interested in my stories from work. Whether it was my current job, my time as an Uber driver, or whatever else I was doing. Due to her medical conditions, she had unusual sleep patterns and sometimes could be up all hours of the night. I worked the graveyard shift when I drove for Uber. She would call or text me throughout the night to see how things were going. I can't count how many conversations we had at 4:00 am. I would debrief her on my night, on the strange Portland crowd I used to drive around. I had some of the funniest stories, and she thought they were a riot. She would let me decompress, I always felt better after talking to mom and she loved it most when I would come over for breakfast. 

Every family has their problems, and my mom's family was no different. I truly think that her siblings care for her, but over many years there have been many hurt feelings. I have never known a more forgiving and understanding person, such grace she had, and such grace she afforded to others. She could have an argument with a sibling, not talk for a few days, and then act like nothing happened. It was the same for my brother and I. Sometimes kids and parents don't agree, and they argue, and they fight, but my mom never turned her back on us.

I feel like my brother and I won the "parents lottery." Our parents were neither too hard nor too easy on us. We could always go to them, no matter what. My father taught me integrity, to know right from wrong; my mother taught me compassion, empathy, how to care for others and to love them.

I look forward to the day when we can be reunited with my mom. I'd like to make her French toast at 4:00 am Heaven time and tell her all the funny and outrageous things that happened to me after she passed. I'd like to know that she'll be as proud of me as she was when she was with us. I'd like to shake hands with God and thank him for the time we had with her.

Rest in peace mom.