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As I sit here in mom’s room at Westside Terrace awaiting the inevitable, I’m reminded the folks at Holman Funeral Home gave me a “homework” assignment. That assignment was to pen mom’s obituary for her eventual passing. She had been in hospice care since July simply awaiting finality of this life after suffering from COPD for the last few years. I have to say, this is one tough homework assignment. But, here goes...
Lois Jean Baldwin Snell was and will always be “mom”. The name given to a billion others and like all others caring and unique in their own special way. She was a strong woman. That was never more evident than in her final days as she struggled with her disease to the last. Born on 16 June 1938, she was one of four children born to Lucille and James Baldwin. Roger, the oldest, died at an early age. Gayle her younger sister passed in 2010. Ronnie, her little brother is still here, thank God. For without the constant care and love he and his wife Debbie and my cousin Rhonda provided mom in her final days, life would have been immeasurably harder on me, an only child, living 2000 miles from home with my wife, kids, and career.
“Mom” was also “Gramma” and “Aunt Jean.” Her three grandkids, Lindsey, Nicholas and Sarah are her legacy. She never failed to give me advice when I was parenting in a manner she thought needed “adjusting.” Of course I took that advice in the loving manner it was intended and used the better parts to great advantage. In the end, she was surrounded by their pictures, those of her nieces and nephews, and grand niece and nephew and the most loving sister in law and niece she could ever have. What a blessing!
I said earlier she was a strong woman. I meant that. Divorced from her husband in the mid 1980s she had to work hard to keep the house in order and make ends meet. It didn’t help that I had a burgeoning US Air Force career that kept me away from home. But, I thank her for that. An employee of the Alabama Aviation and Technical college in the 1960s, she instilled a hunger for aviation in me at a very early age. She always loved the view from on high and made every effort possible to pass that love down. She is the reason my USAF career was so successful. Her vote of confidence when I elected to essentially drop out of the Architecture Program at Auburn to pursue becoming an Air Force officer and pilot, was nothing short of astounding. Upon hearing me state my intentions, she simply said, “well you’re finally gonna do what you’ve always wanted to do, aren’t you!” A child could ask no more from a parent.
“Mom” died on the 3rd of October, 2018, at around 8:30 pm at Westside Terrace in Dothan, Alabama. It was a rough two months on her, but in the end she passed peacefully. We are all so thankful. She didn’t want a funeral. Her exact words were “I don’t want anybody gawking over my body.” No flowers. No casket. No lines. No crying. No gawking. That was mom. She simply wanted to be cremated and leave the disposition to me. I know exactly what she would have liked. I am honoring her wishes. Now SHE is finally doing what SHE always wanted to do. God's speed mom. Every time I look up, I’ll see you. Enjoy the view from on high! Your loving son.