79 years old
Born on November 9, 1940 in Red Oak, Iowa, United States.
Passed away on March 20, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio, United States.
Five months ago in early October, I received a voice message from my mom. She stated she wasn’t well and needed me back home. That’s the day all gears shifted and I knew I had to spend as much time as possible with her. She had been diagnosed with lung cancer and we knew we had a battle ahead. She chose to fight with treatments and was shuffled to various health care places all the while receiving help from friends and family. Some of the stand out moments near the end of 2019 were Phil’s make-shift wheelchair ramp to help keep her in his home where she really wanted to stay, Ann’s countless hours of transporting her to appointments and housing family (including all of Aunt Jolene’s kids... my cousins) during our many and oftentimes last-minute visits, My Aunt Jolene spending weeks at a time by her side and arriving on New Year’s Eve to ring in 2020, heartfelt visit from my Uncle John or my movie-like dash to the hospital on Christmas Day and celebrate the holiday. It was also incredibly special the day Phil, Ann, Aunt Jolene and I had the chance to toast her 79th birthday with bubbles (nonalcoholic, sorry Phil, no 7&7 this time) and share tiramisu that Ann made and was their annual tradition.
After several months of extensive treatments, we found improvements were no longer a reality. We made the decision to move her to assisted living in Cleveland so she and I could have more time together. Before leaving Florida, her friends and members from Unitarian Universalist threw her a going away celebration. To my surprise (I hadn’t realized she was so popular!), she had so many people showing up to wish her a safe journey - they had to stagger the visits because so many folks wanted to visit. This is a sliver of my mom’s life I didn’t have the opportunity to see and be part of. In her last weeks and days, my wife, Sharon, and I spent time reading her Dave Barry, listening to music and holding her hand until the very end. She left us without pain and in peace. She was graceful, beautiful and held more love in her heart that most inspire to reach.
My mom was born in Iowa on a farm with a lineup of wonderful siblings John Bergstrom, Judi Brooks and Jolene Carlson-Bergstrom. She spent 40 years in Florida and several decades teaching English and Creative Writing in Flager county, an active member and president of the Unitarian Universalist Church and the best Mother anyone could ever ask for. She spent her last weeks in Cleveland just blocks from our home and right on Lake Erie. This was a special time together. She was loved and admired and left lasting impressions on all. She will be missed and will stay in our hearts. None of this would be possible without each and every person that receives or is forwarded this message. Thank you to all. With love….
Joan Mergeline Thate
November 9, 1940 - March 20, 2020
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