Saying goodbye to my biggest fan

Some of you may have noticed that I have not been filing the usual number of blog entries and stories recently. That is because I have been busy with something else over these past few days.

Last Friday morning at 6:35 a.m., my Mom died. She and our family had been dealing with Mom's Alzheimer's disease for more than 10 years. It was, as some have labeled it, a long goodbye.

The last few years were such that our Mom didn't know our names and we could not even really have a conversation with her. Of course, it was not the Mom I once knew.

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Her final hours were rough, but our family is very comforted by the fact that she doesn't have to go through any of that anymore. She will now be reunited with my Dad, who died in 1992, and her brothers and sisters.

She had recently turned 88 and she outlived them all.

There are so many things to be thankful for with my mom. As it relates to my career, the biggest occurred in 1978. By then, I had long since decided I wanted to be a sports broadcaster. We went to a career fair and talked to someone, who, at that time, was prominent in radio in Baltimore.

After a few minutes he said to me, "You know, your voice is probably not good enough for radio. Maybe you need to consider another career."

I was pretty much devestated to hear that. In the car on the ride home, it was quiet for several minutes. Then my mom simply said, "You are not going to let that man tell you what you can do. You want to be in broadcasting and you will be."

She said it with such conviction that I believed her. When I left college in 1982 it was not long before I got my first radio job and I've been in sports broadcasting and writing ever since, spending quite a few years working on the Orioles radio network. This season, of course, I host a show each weeknight from 10 p.m. to midnight on 105.7 FM where we talk baseball and about the Orioles, in addition to my duties here at MASNsports.com.

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Had my mom not been dealing with that disease, she would have read every blog I've written here and every comment you post. It would have been a highlight of her day.

We had the kind of relationship where I could talk to her anytime about anything and get unconditional love and support. How can a mom do better?

For years now, my sister Rosalie, my brother Bob and I have helped care for mom and handled her affairs. Her most recent years were spent at Calvert Manor in Cecil County, where they took great care of her and showed her love and respect that was awesome to see.

I am totally at peace with this ending. We did all we could for my mom and she for sure did all she could for us. We took good care of her. It came full circle. We did what she taught us to do and what she would have done.

The end has been coming for a long time and I can look back now at the wonderful times we had and move ahead to the future, using everything she taught me along the way.

She got to see me get to cover my hometown team, the Orioles, and she knew that is what I always wanted to do.

My friends in my baseball life and my personal life have come up big for me these last few days. I have gotten so many wonderful notes and messages and saw so many of them between the viewings Sunday and the funeral yesterday. I hope you all realize how much comfort and friendship you provided me and how that means so much to me that you did that.

Everyone here at MASNsports.com has been supportive and tremendous also. The Orioles sent flowers to the funeral home. I get to cover a classy organization.

Later today, I will write a blog or two getting back to baseball and the Orioles. It will be good for me to jump right back in and proceed with the season and our coverage here.

When I think about the last 10 years I think back on some tough days, and some tears were shed. But when I think back on my entire life with my mom, there are so many wonderful moments. It just makes me feel good that I had that.

About those pictures: That is, of course, my Mom and Dad in the top photo. The other is my Mom holding Vicki, her first grandchild, with me at Christmas in 1967. It reminds me that I was young once and I really love that picture. That was about the time when I discovered baseball and the Orioles.

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