My Mom, Madeline Falco

My mother passed away October 20. Madeline Falco.

It was and wasn’t unexpected. She had been ill for awhile and each time she went into the hospital we were told that was it, the end, so we sort of mourned throughout the year. Each time we were told that, I expected the worst and I went through the grieving process. Now that it actually happened, I am not in too bad of a shape, since it was building up to this point.

I’m probably at the funeral as you read this.

I didn’t post the memorial info anywhere and didn’t tell any of my friends until this post now. I figured those who needed to know didn’t need to see it posted on social media and I just couldn’t do it – I didn’t have it in me to post it and make it real.

She was 88, and lived a wonderful life. She did it all, and was into everything. One of her grandchildren wrote this about her: “Grammy, I will never forget your unending love for all of us, your laugh, your sarcasm, your meatballs, and your encouragement to blast the music and dance around the house. You were one of a kind.”

Another wrote: “I’ll never forget playing records and dancing around the kitchen with you, watching endless musicals during our sleepovers, sneaking to the kitchen for ice cream or frozen watermelon in the middle of the night, seeing you at every show and every performance I ever did, and cooking with you and the massive amounts of garlic you used. 😂 You were an extraordinary grandmother and I’ll always be so grateful for our time together. I hope they play lots of Frank Sinatra for you in heaven. Rest In Peace. I love you forever, Grammy.”

Truth be told, “Sweet Child ‘o Mine” was her favorite song, or one of her favorites. I would always request it when one of my cousins, a musician, was performing. I suspect everyone thought it was my favorite song, but I would always request it thinking of Mom, who was alive and well all those times.

Mom not only loved to dance around, she loved to cook, she was a gourmet cook a gourmet baker, an artist – she painted wonderfully, she also loved any type of music, including Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Elvis, AC/DC, Alice Cooper, Van Halen, Guns n’ Roses, Bruce Springsteen and so much more.. She loved it all. I remember her at Bruce Springsteen’s concert at the Orange Bowl one year. She used to call him “Bruce,” just “Bruce”. One name. She used to call “Murder She Wrote,” ‘Jessica,’ She would say, “Jessica’s on.” Or “Archie’s on, for “All in the Family.”

One time we had Merv Griffin on tv, and someone was talking about music not being any good anymore. I think it was the mid ’70s, and he was saying all the good music was from the past. Mom said, “Not true, what about ‘The Spy Who Loved Me?” And I laughed because the title of the song is funny, but she was always up on the latest music.

She traveled – she loved to travel and she loved astronomy. So many times we would get in the car in the middle of the night to drive to a secluded spot, away from city lights, to look for whatever was in the sky that night – a shooting star, Jupiter, a full moon, whatever. I bought her a big telescope once, because she loved it all so much.

She loved Britcoms and would always call me to tell me something funny was on. We loved Archie Bunker, we would quote his nonsense to each other. When I was a kid she would sometimes cut my hair and she would ask me how I wanted it, I would say, in Archie’s voice – “Without blood, ma, without blood. And when you get to an ear, for god sake, stop!”

We would go on adventures, like one time we went searching around Brooklyn for the Moonstruck house in Brooklyn Heights and we would do so many things like that.

She worked out at a gym well into her 80s. She would laugh and say, “I was working out at the gym today and there working out next to me was my grandson!” because one of her grandchildren happened to be working out at the same gym.

She worked when we were growing up and she did that along with all her other activities, but I don’t ever remember her not being there. She fit it all in and always had dinner on the table. She never neglected us. Ever. She was at every school event, every sporting event, gymnastics event, etc. She was involved at both – for her kids and her grandkids.

When she was younger, she drove fast. We used to say she rounded the corners on two wheels.

I heard so many nice things at the wake, that I didn’t know. Our former next door neighbor, for so many years, Brian, my youngest brother Joey’s friend, was telling me about a time when Brian’s brand new car was in an accident about 50 miles from home. He and Joey were out for the night. He was scared to call his father, so my mother ended up driving the 50 miles to bring them home. She never mentioned the accident to Brian’s father. But the father found out and started to shun Brian.

My mother found out and went over and really let the father have it, saying things like, “How dare you treat your son like that ….” She was feisty. Love that. She was the first one to Brian’s mother’s side, when she found out his mother had cancer. Brian remembered all this and told me it all at the wake. But we were next door neighbors or so many years, our fathers worked together, so our mothers were each second mothers to us.

My aunt passed six months ago, another second (third?) mother to me. Two wonderful women dancing with the angels today. My father lost a sister and a wife this year. But he is doing quite well, all things considered.

I sent a big thing of flowers to the funeral home and it says, “Thank you, Mom – Love Tommy.” It sounds like a weird message to have on flowers, but I am thanking her for being my mother.

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