My mom, Sandy Kay Schulz, was a beautiful person, inside and out. It is fitting that she passed away in the fall, a season that shows us so much beauty.
Mom spoke fondly of her childhood and loved her brothers Irv, Stan, and Randy so much. Her best childhood memories were from time spent with her mom and grandma. She loved girl time with them, and Mom lost both of them while she was in her early 20s. Mom mentioned HER Mom a lot during her final days with us. Our entire family rejoices that she has been reunited with her mom, dad, grandma, and sisters.
My mom has always been super strong.
After going through some tough times early in her adult life, my mom only became stronger and more determined to build a loving family. She married Dave, whom I adored from the start, and blessed me with a sister, Sarah, AND a brother, Mitch.
My mom was blessed with a true love story.
When Mom was hospitalized on their 39th anniversary this year – September 9th – I asked Dad what his favorite memory was from their wedding day. He said the moment was when Mom was being photographed at the front of the church. It was early evening, and the sun shone in the church window and cast a spotlight on her. Dad said she looked so beautiful in that moment.
My dad showed us what true love makes possible. He did so much during the early years of her Parkinson’s diagnosis, and then he literally catered to her every need beginning in the fall of 2020. Timed feedings, ordering medications, battling with insurance companies, taking her to appointments with seven or more different doctors and therapists, helping her with personal care, and still sleeping next to her at night when she was loud and restless. I am still in awe.
My mom loved her family most of all.
She was the person I could talk to about anything. My mom was a much more soft spoken soul than I. However, I learned that a soft voice did NOT equate to less importance. When she said something, I learned to listen and take note. She could say more with few words than I could with many.
Sarah recalls Mom showing up at her house with a bucket and rubber gloves when she had sick kids and saying, “What can I do to help?”
Mom was Sarah’s most reliable babysitter ever, even when the kids had a fever or were sick.
Mom was so proud of her grandkids. Her face lit up every single time she saw them, and the last day they saw her was no exception.
Gabriel’s special memory of his Nana was watching outdoor community movies in Durant during the summer. Nana and Papa would take the older kids to the outdoor movies and then have a sleepover at their house.
My mom was a great cook and baker.
Dad has often said that the way to his heart is through his stomach. His mom Laura was a great cook and baker, and my mom and his wife Sandy was a great cook and baker also. Mom made the best bread and buns from scratch, and Dad said it’s part of the reason why he married her.
Mom took pride in teaching her kids and grandkids how to cook and bake. We especially enjoyed our holiday baking days together.
Mom loved gardening.
One of her favorite Mother’s Day traditions was to plant flowers.
When her daughter-in-law Hannah joined the family, Mom and Hannah immediately bonded over their love for plants.
A few years ago, Mom won an award for her beautiful arrangement in a planter on Durant’s Main Street.
My mom always tried to do the right thing and wanted people to think well of her. She was a true example of kindness.
She and my dad always made the time to serve others. And she valued her service to others.
Mom was always willing to help, even later on when she really couldn’t.
My mom had an incredible work ethic.
Her former co-workers all echoed the same sentiments: Sandy was a hard worker, a cheerful giver, and a loyal ally in any project.
My mom was a noble warrior.
After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease more than a decade ago, Mom did so well for so long. And that’s because my mom, Sandy Kay Schulz, was a fighter. She kept the worst things at bay for nearly eight years.
And then, when she was hospitalized and in rehab for 70 days in 2020, she came home with that same fighting spirit. It made no difference that she would never eat or drink orally again, or that she had a permanent trach tube and other obstacles. She was back and making the most of it.
And she could only do that with the support of my dad, whom she said yes to and built a family with.
My siblings and I all checked in on Mom frequently. We were fiercely loyal to the woman who was our rock for so many years.
Sarah and her littles took Mom to visit local parks and fun places during the past three years on what they called “Nana Tuesdays.”
Mitch played cards with Mom at least once a week.
I took Mom out for haircuts and pedicures. We also enjoyed shopping at the mall or at Target.
We all learned how to administer medicine, do tube feedings, clean her trach, and perform multiple caregiving tasks.
During Mom’s four months at Cedar Manor, we all took turns visiting her daily and are so thankful to everyone who came to see her there. The most common word we heard – and even overheard – from staff when they talked about my mom: sweet.
Mom lived with me for the final ten days of her life, and it was the most amazing gift. My dad and siblings all rotated shifts to help out. I was able to tuck my mom in at night, say bedtime prayers with her, and tell her how much I loved her. And in the mornings, since we decided to let her eat and drink for pleasure during her final weeks, I brewed coffee, and we sat side-by-side in my loveseat, drinking coffee and watching the Today Show together.
We were all incredibly blessed to have a great few hours with Mom last Wednesday, just before she took a turn for the worse. Mom repaid our love with even more of her own – by rallying one last time for all of us.
So, what do we do now? Life will continue on.
We keep Mom’s memory alive by leaving here and taking a piece of her with us.
Together, we do things to ensure that up there (point to heaven), Sandy is smiling down on us.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Smile! Mom had a contagious smile.
- Go to church.
- Volunteer in your community.
- Work in a garden.
- Enjoy good food – especially sweets.
- Express your love for others.
- Be kind to those who are struggling – a single mom struggling to make ends meet, someone with a disability, anyone.
- Remember Sandy Kay Schulz not for her disease or her death, but for her wonderful life.
On behalf of my family and my mom, thank you all SO much for being here today. Thank you for loving my mom and remembering and celebrating her life with us.