The Loss of Mamma Ross

The Loss of Mamma Ross

It was two years ago January 22nd that we lost Mamma Ross, My wife Laura’s mother. I was at KNZR prepping my show to go on the air when my cell rang, it was Laura. I answered…. “Hello honey.”


There was a pause and then I heard my wife say just two words, “Mom’s dead.”

I felt like a hammer had hit me in my gut. “What?” I said.

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“Mom’s dead, she died in her sleep.”

I didn’t know what to say, I was in shock. I thought that this can’t be true. I just could not believe what I was hearing. Mamma had been battling cancer for years but I thought she was beating it. This just can’t be true!!!

“But.. what… I mean how …. who…. how do you know?”

“Antoinette found her this morning.” Laura said

Antoinette was Mamma Ross’ caregiver and her very best friend, she took care of Mamma every day. She helped Mamma with everything Laura and I couldn’t do on a daily basis. She was a next door neighbor and was there every morning when Mamma got up and every night when she went to bed.

Antoinette had gone to Mamma’s house that morning and was worried when she wasn’t already up. She went into Mamma’s bedroom and found her in her California King with her cats and her dog Emma lying next to her.

It was too late… Mamma was gone.

She had called EMT and then called Laura.

At the station my producer Puck said he would fill in for me for that day and my boss Mary Lou told me to get home to Laura ASAP. And so I ran to my car and headed South a few blocks to our house in Oildale.

All the way home I was feeling that this couldn’t be true. I was in a state of shock, stunned at the thought that Mamma could be dead. But how could that be? She was doing so well, she was beating this cancer thing. I kept thinking there must be some sort of mistake. But there wasn’t….. I just didn’t want to believe it.

I pulled into our driveway and ran into the house. Laura was just sitting in her office staring into thin air.

She wasn’t crying she was just sitting there. I then sat down in the living room and stared at the door. We were both still in shock in our silence I guess.

Our dog Sophie came walking slowly into the living room with her head and tail down and looked up at me as if she knew something was wrong, very wrong.

The coroner then called and said that he would not leave Mamma’s house until we got there because there were firearms on the property and he refused to leave until we arrived. Yep, Mamma was armed.

He told us there were people there. Hey! Who were the people he spoke about?

Laura packed a bag and we left for Eye Street to Mamma’s house in silence. All the way there we drove without a word spoken between us. Down Decatur, South on Chester, through downtown to the big shoe and then right to Eye street.

Upon arrival at Mamma’s house there was that coroner’s car out front. Just seeing that county car made it all seem much more real to me, and I started to cry for the first time that day.

They had already been there and taken Mamma’s body away a little bit ago. But there were also a few neighbors and her landlord standing in the front yard gawking. My first thought was, “What the hell are these people doing here? And where is Antoinette?”

As it was, after calling 911 Antoinette had just broken down and become hysterical when she called Laura and went back home.

After going inside Mamma’s house the gawking neighbors and the landlord followed us. It only took Laura a few minutes to kick everyone out of the place. “Get out! Leave us alone! Get out!!”

I mean what were these people doing in the house anyway? Why did they feel the need to be there? Laura and I needed to be alone.

They left.

The coroner who had waited for us was very nice and gave us some paperwork and then left.

Now we were alone in the house.

That was when I felt the truest sense of loss that day so far. There I sat on Mamma’s couch with her dog and her cats wondering around as if they were looking for Mamma and not understanding what was going on.

On the end table was Mamma’s mug of water. Next to it was a small ashtray with 5 or 6 of Mamma’s cigarette butts all from the night before. It was a stark reminder of how quickly it all comes to an end. The mug still had some remnants of ice in it.

That house was so silent and wistful that that’s when I realized I was shaking like a leaf. As if I had a serious chill I was still in disbelief. I guess you could call it shock or something. Oh my God I thought… what was happening?

Mamma wasn’t supposed to die. She was the strongest woman I had ever known. She was the most truthful and decent and honest God fearing woman I had ever known. She was always there for me for eight long years. She was my best friend. How was it she was gone? The cancer had beaten her badly. And I was simply heartbroken.

Over eight years I had spent so many days and nights talking to her, talking about everything under the sun. I would go over to her house to drop off her med’s or run some errand for her and then sit with her talking for hours and hours about politics, religion, movies or just watch Fox News shows.

I would call her or she would call us and she and I would talk for hours on end. Laura would laugh and say “Hey can I talk to my Mother please.” We talked about everything under the sun Mamma Ross and I.

She told me the best stories of her life from her days as a fashion model in Hollywood in the 1950’s and all the movie stars she had gotten to know. She told me about Frank Sinatra and her long relationship with him. She had a friendship ring David Niven had given her in her youth. She had known so many of the Hollywood folks in the 50’s and her stories always entertained me with such joy.

We talked about our dogs and our cats and about cars and travel.

We talked about food and music and our families and the Bible and just life in general.

You see Mamma Ross was a devoted Christian who helped bring me back to God. She and Laura both helped me realize my faith was not lost but only laying dormant under my hard exterior. Mamma Ross told me that despite my wicked past that God still loved me and felt me worthy of his love. That meant the world to me.

So later that day Laura decided to stay at Mamma’s house and that I should go home to tend to Sophie, our dog and Walter the Cat. So off I went. I fed them both, put Sophie out to potty, cleaned the litter box and then I went to bed.

The next morning, on January 23’rd at about 7am when I woke up I heard a wild wind blowing outside. The wind was wicked bad. I mean it was whipping around like a typhoon. I was lying in bed and I could hear my neighbors tool shed being ripped apart and the metal roof banging against the fence. The howls were as loud as all hell and I just laid there for a few moments before I got out of bed.

Then I went into the living room and opened the front door. And what I saw was mind blowing.

The trees were bending and the leaves were flying in all directions. The garbage cans lids were flapping and the trash was flying all over.

My lawn chairs were flying all over the front yard and the cactus was bent and broken.

The American flag on the front of my home was on the ground ripped from the eves of the house by the vicious winds.

This was the nastiest wind storm I had ever seen short of Typhoon Omar on Guam in 1993. Well, OK maybe not that bad BUT it was pretty severe for Bakersfield.

I walked outside and as I stood there at my front door that morning the wind began to quickly subside. Inside of 30 seconds the wind was gone, and the dark clouds overhead parted for a moment and the sun shined bright on me and my house.

For that moment it was deafly silent. Not a sound. The sun then grew brighter and brighter for more than a few minutes. It was so eerily quite it stood out to me as being a bit freakish…… That’s when I realized what had just happened. I knew what was going on. It was all so clear to me at that very moment. You see, it was a message.

Our Father in Heaven had just opened the gates to his Kingdom to welcome Mamma Ross. The wind, the clouds parting, the sunshine……it was all so clear to me.

I knew just at that moment that she was at peace. She had no more pain, no more difficulty getting around, no more dependency on friends and family and she was home, home with her savior Jesus Christ. She was home with the Lord.

You see, I believe God was sending me a message. He was telling me that it was all going to be OK, telling me not to worry about her, the sun was shining after the power of God blew the hell out of Oildale as a sign to us all. Mamma was home.

Mamma Ross was entering the Kingdom Of God, and that she was in very good hands, safe in the hands of God.

Thinking about the past ten years, one of my only regrets I have in life is I wish I had met Laura and her mother earlier so I could have known them much longer than I have. I wish I had known Mamma Ross for so much longer. Eight years was just not nearly long enough.

I love you Mamma… and I miss you so much, but I know I will see you in Heaven one of these days. Say hello to my mother, Rada Jo and my Daddy, Paul Richard.

Make me a cup of coffee when I get there and we’ll all get caught up.

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