Memorial Day Fever Memories

jean compton
3 min readMay 12, 2022
Photo: Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash

My mom died on Memorial Day Weekend.

She had been ill with Lewy body-a form of dementia. She had probably had a few strokes prior to that as well-according to my father who was busy taking care of her while he was dealing with his own health issues (unbeknownst to any his children). He left us four years before all of this.

Mom had departed our family home for assisted living which turned into hospice in the same facility when her Lewy body progressed to the point of no return.

When my mom’s impending death and the Memorial Day holidays were converging, we decided to celebrate. That didn’t sound right — we just wanted to be there for her. With her. Just outside her window.

We were lucky that her room was on the ground floor. We knew she would be able to see us outside, well, at least hear us and we hoped that it would be of some comfort to her.

We actually were able to come and go through the window. Directly outside, there was a grassy area, even a picnic table. We had brought a cooler full of food, beer, a grill, some outdoor games and we set about to have a feverish celebration. It was me, my older brother, my two daughters, the oldest’s boyfriend and his buddy.

For all its spontanaity, it all worked out. At least, we enjoyed it. And one last hurrah for the Materfamilius.

With the window open and our mother in earshot of our chatter and laughter, some of us played frisbee or softball, while others took turns sitting by her bedside, holding her hand, saying our goodbyes, our thank-yous, along with any other, private, heretofore things left unsaid.

I like to think that she was aware of us and that she enjoyed it. I hope she could and I think she did. It was certainly therapeutic for us.

When my grandmother, my mom’s mom, lost her first child at 18 months to Scarlet Fever, my uncle’s toddler body lay on display in the living room on the first floor where visitors could come and pay their respects through the window without being exposed to the disease.

Grandmother had let a man in church hold baby Glenn, after the man’s son had passed away from the disease. Not knowing how contagious scarlet fever was, it was a fatal mistake. My grandmother told my…

jean compton

I have an eye for the artful and influence. Essays, Memoir and Musings on this and that. Currently working on a memoir about my life as a dancer in 80's NYC