Quad Cities, IL/IA

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Life is NOT a Spectator Sport

 Dawn Ramos embraces her mom whom everyone called “Sunshine”.

“She knows my voice. She knows my touch. I don’t want anyone else to take care of my sweet lady. After all, who gets to walk the last journey with their mother? Only the lucky ones, I’d say.” Dawn Ramos, East Moline

In the spring of 2006, life as Marjorie had known it, was about to change and the whole family was about to embark on a new journey with daughter, Dawn Ramos, at the helm.

Dawn’s 79-year-old mother, Marjorie, had suffered a stroke. For some people, hearing that your mother has had a stroke, prompts thoughts of the end of an era of independence, compromised cognitive skills, and physical weakness. Others may think this diagnosis closes a door to favorite family activities.

Dawn and Joe Ramos of East Moline pondered this diagnosis and looked to it as a catalyst. Now was the time to open the doors of their East Moline home to Dawn’s mother and embrace this turning point in Marjorie’s life as an opportunity to spend precious time with their family matriarch.

“If you are ever faced with the decision to care for your parent or grandparent in your home, know this: Walking the final journey with your family member will shower you with so many joys. It is hard work and a huge responsibility, but it is a commitment of love and the blessings far outweigh the challenges. Being my Mother’s caregiver was my honor and privilege,” shared Dawn Ramos.

Never looking back, Dawn considers this family decision — the best nine years of her life. “Our family has always been close. For years, we have vacationed together and ‘Grams’ joined us. My mother was always there for me and each of my children. She never missed a school function, church program, or sporting event. My love and respect for her surpasses all understanding. I wanted my own children to know their grandmother and be guided by her values and words of wisdom (which we call ‘Grams-isms’). She ushered me into this world and carried my burdens on her shoulders for years — why wouldn’t I be there for her when times got tough?”

Life’s Lessons
As a lifelong teacher, Dawn will tell you that teaching life values in a classroom can be challenging. Enabling people to learn “one-on-one” from a mentor who has lived a life full of hardships and joys take education to a highpoint. That is how she viewed her role as her mother’s caregiver. She retired early from teaching in the Davenport schools to fulfill this commitment.

Dawn shared, “My mother, Marjorie Hoskins, was such a positive example of a strong woman. She was blessed with wisdom and a non-judgmental personality, which is very indicative of her generation. She emanated this positive attitude throughout all of her surgeries and amputations, through her many trips to doctor appointments, infusions, therapies, always wearing a smile, and living her faith as she faced every adversity with courage. That’s why we called her ‘Sunshine’”. To Grams, every day was a good day as long as she was alive.

The after effects of a stroke were only one of the health considerations Dawn faced in providing care for her mother. Grams also had severe diabetes and vascular disease, eventually restricting her to a wheelchair. That did not stop the Ramos family from including her in fishing trips, flights to Florida, family reunions, Cubs games, and every Augie baseball game, where grandson, Mark, was a standout player. Joe and Dawn invested in a wheelchair accessible van to safely transport Grams since “Let’s go, Hallelujah” was her mantra.

This Daughter Was Not on the Sidelines
“Grams health was slowly failing from the debilitating effects of battling diabetes for four decades. It was so hard to see her slipping as she was trying to hold on. It was difficult to stay on top of dressing changes, as wounds were less responsive. Making protein shakes and finding nutritious food that she could swallow was challenging. It’s hard as a caregiver, to see our loved ones weaken. Grams was having difficulty processing information, wanting to jump into conversations but slowly became more and more silent as the words wouldn’t come. I would cry because I knew I was losing her and then [get] angry because I wasn’t winning the battle. I didn’t want to face her death and hoped she would just bounce back again, like she had done a hundred other times,” lamented Dawn.

Facing Reality
Taking one precious day at a time, Dawn tried to capture all of the activities that made their mother-daughter time so special. Grams loved singing the old Methodist hymns as well as other favorite melodies. So, Dawn made sure to record their voices together adding more and more to the collection. In the summer of 2014, they sat together while Marge dictated her autobiography.

Marge also faced death with strength and faith. While she lived each day knowing that God would care for her, she was practical enough to share her wishes for some of the details in preparation for her “Celebration of Life” service at Trimble Funeral Home & Crematory and at her church, Bethel Wesley United Methodist in Moline.

Then, one fall day in 2014, after a full day in the sunshine at the soccer field and at the movies, Grams had a seizure followed by a stroke. She slipped into the beginning of a nine-day coma. Many friends and family, church choir members, and Marjorie’s pastor stopped by the Ramos home to tell Grams how much she meant to them. In their hearts her visitors felt she could hear their voices. Dawn recalled, “Lovingly she moaned as we sat around her bed sharing stories of her love and how much she taught all of us. Tears ran down her cheeks as we sang, prayed, laughed and cried together.”

Each wanted her to know — one last time — how much she was loved. Grams quietly passed away surrounded by her two daughters, son-in-law, and three grandchildren on October 20th, 2014.

Eric and Reid Trimble, licensed funeral directors and embalmers for Trimble Funeral Home & Crematory, encourage families to discuss pre-planning options. To receive a complete pre-planning kit and price list or to make an appointment, call 309-764-1144.