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August 2006



After the funeral and the reception we had family over to the house.  I was still in a fog for an hour or two after the reception, but as guests came to the house the mood changed.  The kids were playing together in the pool, neighbors brought food, we drank beer, watched the Tour De France, caught up with cousins.  We heard stories about my mother, mostly of the "off the record" variety.  We reminisced about camping trips when we were young and road trips to Allentown and Kingston to visit family.  It was a really nice time.

As my brother Mike remarked the night before, my mother was always the bright light at a party. Her spirit was there and you could see my mother in her brother Ted's eyes and in her sister Carmel's smile. 

Sometime around 10:30 after everyone had left or gone to bed, I went for a run.  The heat and humidity had broken and there was a gentle rain.  I was relaxed and ran for nearly an hour as I've done countless times in the last six months.   But I felt better than I have in a long time.  I realized my mother would have really enjoyed the day.   And I guess she did. 



Today we had the funeral mass at the Church of the Annunciation that my parents belong to.  Many of my mother's golf friends and neighbors were there as well as my mother's sister Carmel and her son Bob, her brother Ted and his wife Joan, our cousins Kevin, Gary, Michelle and Colleen.  I'm sure my mother was pleased to be remembered by so many.  There were more than 200 people there.

My wife Gregg and Tim's wife Kelly did the readings from the Book of Wisdom and from Corinthians.  Father Bill did a nice homily about my mother and taking something from how she lived and incorporating it into our lives. 

Later there was a reception at my parents' golf club.  Gregg and Kelly had set up a nice table of photos of my mother and our families along with my parents wedding album from 1957.  Gregg had also ordered crystal Christmas ornaments of a golf bag with a shamrock on it from Galway Ireland to give to all the families so that they would have a way of remembering my mother. 

I got up to say a brief memorial.  I didn't think I would be able to do it extemporaniously, so I wrote it up yesterday.  Afterwards, many people got up and told stories about my mother, some light hearted, some serious, all of them touching.  Many people said that they had read the web site, which was nice.  I got to thank many people who had posted comments to my mother and I let them know that I had read them to my mother in the final days.

Here's what I said:

I'd like to thank everyone for coming, especially those who traveled far.  Also thanks to those who could not make it, but wrote, called, sent email or posted comments to the web site.  You all meant a lot to my mother.

Especially her grand kids: Austin and Cameron, Brianna and Faith, Ruby and Agnes, Lauren and Brendan who are here today.  She loved you guys and she appreciated that she didn't have to discipline you.

My mother was sometimes strict with us growing up, but I had great respect for the values she had.  I owe a debt of grattitude to both my parents for helping to make me who I am today.  She shaped all of us and she touched our lives.

The last six months, I got to see another side of my mother.  She knew she would not live the year, but she still had kindness, humor and strength.

She accepted what was happening.  But she went with a fight at the end to make sure that we finished saying the rosary before she died. 

Thank you to my father, my brothers, my sister and my wife for helping out in the final days.  They were tough times but they will make us stronger.  That's what my mother would have wanted. 

Please raise a toast to my mother.  Mom, I miss you.



There's still a few last minute preparations for the funeral and reception that we've been working on today.  We had a head start early in the week, but now time is running out and some things are still not finalized.  It will all come together, but it's the kind of last minute stress that puts you over the edge given the circumstances.  I was cursing in the car on the way to the funeral home today after 30 minutes in heavy traffic, but it was just the stress getting to me. 

The rest of the family has arrived now.  My brother Mike returned yesterday with his wife and two girls.  Karen's husband and her two girls came in yesterday.  And today My brother Shawn arrived today with his wife and two of his kids.  With Tim's two boys we now have a house full of kids and they are enjoying playing together by the pool.  When we were kids, visiting with our cousins was always tremendous fun.  It's nice to see that happening with the next generation.  But we don't get together as much as we should and that's a shame.  As my brother Mike put it "weddings and funerals."

My wife ordered some  plastic bracelets for the kids to remember my mother.  They are teal colored, to signify ovarian cancer, and they can add small buttons you can add representing different aspects of my mother's life, a golf ball, a shamrock, a maple leaf, a nurse's cross etc.  It was a nice project for the kids.

Mary Urlocker - Rest in Peace


From the Orlando Sentinel

Mary L. Urlocker died July 4, 2006 after a seven year struggle with ovarian cancer.  She was born in Deseronto, Ontario.  She is survived by husband Bob of 50 years and five loving children: Karen, Shawn, Michael, Mark and Tim as well as a sister Carmel Troxell of Allentown, PA and brothers Raymond and Ted of Toronto.  She was also blessed with eleven grandchildren. She was a Registered Nurse from St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.

Mary's funeral mass will be celebrated at Annunciation Catholic Church, Altamonte Springs, Florida on Friday July 7 at 10:00 am where she received much comfort and inspiration in her fight against cancer.  She was a member of Errol Estate Country Club, the Orlando Women's Golf Association and Women Playing for T.I.M.E, a charity for MD Anderson Cancer Center in Orlando where she received loving care.  She enjoyed competitive golf and developed many close friends who will remember her bright smile.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks for your prayers and for donations to be made to:

Women Playing for T.I.M.E
In memory of Mary Urlocker
3160 South Gate Commerce Blvd, Suite 50,
Orlando, Florida 32806

The Last Breath


My mother was no longer conscious this morning.  Each of us were in with her in the final hours, holding her hand, speaking softly.  I put on some Jimmy Cliff music that she liked and sang quietly to her the song "Many Rivers to Cross."

Many rivers to cross
But I can't seem to find my way over
Wandering I am lost
As I travel along the white cliffs of dover

Many rivers to cross
And it's only my will that keeps me alive

A few hours later, her color was fading.  Her breathing was still erratic with pauses of ten to fifteen seconds between breaths.  All of us gathered by her side.  My sister Karen said the rosary along with my father and my wife.  Two nights ago she had called for Karen and whispered "hail, hail" asking for the rosary.  Tim and I held her hands.  Kids were outside playing.  After one decade of the rosary, that is, ten Hail Mary's, she stopped breathing.  The nurse checked and there was no pulse.  I left her side and I held my wife.  Everyone cried. And then after another two minutes that seemed like an hour, my mother gasped for air.  She was always a fighter and she would not let go. 

She began breathing again, still erratic, still noisy.  We waited.  And then Karen resumed the rosary.  When she completed all five decades of the rosary about ten minutes later, my mother finally let go.  We waited a couple of minutes to be sure.  We said our final goodbyes.  My father kissed her for the last time.  And then the nurse turned off the oxygen pump and everything was quiet.



Last couple of days we've been camped out at my parents' house.  People are sleeping on couches or on the floor wherever they can.  My brother Tim (pictured above) has not left the house since he arrived; he wants to stay close to our mom.  His wife Kelly and two boys are flying out tonight which will be good. 

Yesterday I was pretty discouraged.  I managed to go for a run around 10:00 pm for an hour and when I got back I felt normal for the first time all day.  Unfortunately, everyone was asleep. 

It's hard to be here, but its also hard to be away.  We're all just waiting and there's not much we can do at this stage.  Nurses from the hospice are here around the clock and that's been much appreciated.  They are doing the best they can to keep my mother comfortable.  But she's not responding much anymore.  I think she can still hear us and once in a while she will say something, but mostly she is resting. 

Her breathing has become a noisy death rattle  due to retained secretions in the upper respitory area.  Her breathing is also irregular with deep breaths with long pauses, known as Cheyne-Stokes respiration.  I think she is close to the end.



I caught a flight out from San Francisco to Orlando today.  I got to my parents' house around 11:00 pm.  Everyone was asleep except for the nurse and my wife.  Today was the first day that my mom did not get out of bed.  A couple of times she wanted to get up, but she just didn't have the strength. She hasn't been able to swallow food or liquid today.  She has tried to speak a few words, but not too much.

Earlier in the evening, my brother Tim put his ipod headphones in my mother's ears and played some irish songs including Danny Boy.  She responded to the music and moved her feet to the beat. 

The photo above is me, tired and discouraged.