She took her last breath that morning in April in bed at Saddleback Women's Hospital. Her pain had become unbearable; the doctor was consulted and asked two questions; could she be given stronger pain medicine and what were the chances of her recovering?
Winifred (Winnie) was a month short of her 90th birthday; she would not be physically present for Mother's Day of 2007. In the last two years, EMTs had been called to her home several times and she had been transported to the hospital ER an equal number of times. She was still mentally alert but her body was giving out.
The doctor's answer was that stronger medication (morphine) would probably be more than her heart could stand and the outlook for recovery was negative. Winnie's family was aware that the hospital had instructions from the patient not to keep her alive artificially. Word had spread to family and friends and many had gathered at the hospital to pay a final visit.
Winnie and Bit (Cyril Holcombe Reynolds) her husband of 62 years, spent their last working years together. Bit had been in insurance during the 1950s and '60s and Winnie had supplemented their income with her seamstress skills making little girls' clothes.
In the 1950s she learned to make slipcovers for a company in Long Beach and soon developed her own clientele; the business grew and she needed Bit's help. They traveled the highways and streets of Southern California, most of it in Orange County until the 1980s. They were never happier because they also were able to spend more time with their grandkids, their greatest reward. They were also able to bring home a son, Jimmy, who had been in an institution since he was six years old.
Sometimes your blessings multiply; in their early 60s they took on the additional task of providing home and care for two of their young grand-daughters. Their small house in Calimesa had been expanded and fixed up; it had a large backyard with vegetable garden, citrus trees and a pomegranate tree and plenty of room for grandchildren to explore.
Visiting grandkids could count on taking home at least a loaf of homemade bread that seldom survived the trip home. Bit and Winnie believed that taking care of the two girls was 90 percent inspiration and 10 percent perspiration. When the girls returned home to their mother they were overjoyed and had a love for their grandparents that was unbreakable.
Bit was the first to go to Heavenly Father; he fell victim to Alzheimer's and other infirmities and passed away in 1996 in a hospice center overlooking El Toro Memorial Cemetery. Now, Bit, Winnie and Jimmy rest side by side at El Toro.
This Mother's Day we honor our mothers, grandmothers and those who have been like mothers to us.
If we are lucky, we will feel that presence of mother near us. If even luckier, we remember that special person each and every day.
Reynolds lives in Pleasant View.