bye, Mom

A friend offered such nice condolences for my mom’s recent passing (1), I felt compelled to offer her some information about this person she never knew.  Here’s what I wrote:

Mom was a spitfire.  Chose to carry me when she got knocked up at 19 even though cad-Dad offered to pay to “take care of it”.  Went on to raise 4 more of her own when she and her Italian electrician husband bolted Dee-troit to live among the Amish in Stanwood by Big Rapids.  It wasn’t a farm, but it had a barn and they had horses and other animals for the kids.  All got college degrees (3 with 4 from MSU!) and thrived except for baby sister Amy, who chose to become a Colorado ski bum – still happy in her own way – and died of a vaxx heart thing at 56 last May.  Mom’s mom made it past 104 (see them on the beach at Anna Maria Island in FL a couple years before I came along), just like my own Grandpa Ike, so I expected to have her around.  Heart issues got her, and she became very frail her last few years, though her mind remained sharp, sharp enough to get zingers to her oldest son regularly.  Her maternal grandparents worked the copper mines in the Keweenaw after coming over from Cornwall before buying cut-over farmland in the thumb, so I can say I have Yooper blood, something of which I’m very proud.   My favorite picture of her is one we took very early in our relationship, back in May ‘09.  We arranged a meet up by her house after the PI had found her.  Kathy rented a plane and flew me and her to the nearby Canadian Lakes airstrip.  Mom drove up in her red convertible, so we both made an entrance.  After that came a visit where Kathy’s jaw dropped to see the similarities in our mannerisms. It was never distant or awkward with Mom. Words between us just flowed. We could talk for hours, but didn’t do so often enough. Mom spent winters in Mazatlán, and we always threw her a party when she pushed off.  See us in October 2020, when Amy was still alive.  There’s a missing son, living down in the “other peninsula”, but we love him too. The last is me, Mom, Kathy, my tall sisters, and some cousins at a restaurant in little Beaufort, County Kerry, last July.  Mom had hinted to her daughters for several years she’d like to celebrate her 90th birthday in Ireland, so we did.  At one point she said she’d had such a good time she wanted to have her hundredth there.  I wouldn’t doubt that her spawn will end up there in July 2032 to summon her spirit.  And to honor her wishes, we’ll have a great time doing it. 

Marlene and Violet Gilbert on the beach at Anna Maria Island, sometime in 1949

Mom meets her first born for the first time (as an adult) on the grass field of Canadian Lakes airstrip, May 2009.

Mom’s girls (and one boy) wish her well as she pushes off to Mazatlán for the winter, October 2020. Front row: Di (a.k.a. Jack, CPA for the State and also MSU volunteer women’s rowing coach), Amy (Amelia, a.k.a.Madge, driving FedEx truck), Mom. Back: Jolene (a.k.a. Ish, became pharmacist after her dream of veterinary was dashed), me.

Mom’s testosterone laden offspring, tempered by their dear wives. On our porch at Madeira Beach January 2023. Spartoon John (B.A., LL.B), Karen, Kathy, me. Yes, John and I smoked cigars beforehand (2). As you can see, John did get some of our mother’s good looks. I trust he’s used them to good purposes.

Gathered at Dunloe Hotel & Gardens in Beaufort, Killarney, County Kerry, near Kilkenny, after Mom’s second or third 90th birthday party. First row: cousin Krissy, Mom, Kathy, Di, Krissy’s mom Laura. Back: Jolene, me. The hats were Jolene’s idea.


  1. Ike B. Mother’s day. WordPress 5/14/23
  2. Ike B. Tobacco Road. WordPress 1/21/23.

Published by rike52

I retired from the Rheumatology division of Michigan Medicine end of June '19 after 36 years there. Upon hitting Ann Arbor for the second time (I went to school here) it took me almost 8 months to meet Kathy, 17 months to buy her a house (on Harbal, where we still live), and 37 months to marry her. Kids never came, but we've been blessed with a crowd of colleagues, friends, neighbors and family that continues to grow. Lots of them are going to show up in this log eventually. Stay tuned.

5 thoughts on “bye, Mom

  1. Confused. Marlene Gilbert is your biological mother?

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  2. Indeed, Marlene Joan Gilbert birthed me as an unwed mom in 1952. Dick and Marion Ike quickly adopted me from the GR facility where Marlene had gone to whelp. Marion Lela Slater Ike served as Mom till she died suddenly 5/17/63, when I was 10. I reconnected with Marlene May 2009 through my adoption papers. A PI was involved.


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    div>Thank you for sharing your interesting story about your beginnings.  I love genealogy and hearing family memories.  It tells the story of how you became the wonderful, kind, caring, snd loving pers


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