9/12/1944 – 10/19/2021. My mom, Celia Schmidt, is gone. Her body is free from pain, discomfort, medications, exhaustion, poor mobility, and depression. Her spirit will live forever though. I know she will be looking over me, my two older siblings, and everyone else in the family.
My sister delivered the news this morning around 10:20 am. Mom had a heart attack during a coma and her body couldn’t handle it. On Sunday, she went to sleep and never woke up. God was good to mom. She didn’t rot on a hospital bed. Thank you, God, for making her wishes of dying peacefully come true.
The emotional rollercoaster since then has been real. I’ve been feeling empty inside, physically/emotionally weak, somewhat paralyzed and numb, deep sadness. Time heals. For now, I must do what I preach as a coach…take time to grief, allow myself to feel and express my emotions, and not hide or shut myself down–hence, that’s where this writing comes in. Time will heal. Mom is watching me from above. She wants me to be happy and keep going.
Thank you to everyone who sent prayers and thoughts, called, and messaged me since last night, when I shared the initial news on Facebook. I felt your kindness and love. I will not forget it.
Special thanks to my amazing friend Rachel Nix. She dropped all she was doing to knock on my door to be with me despite the fact I told her to not to come. I am glad she didn’t listen to me. Her presence and compassion, for a few hours, made my day a little easier. Thank you and love you.
After our time together, I headed to a Crossfit gym for a workout to honor mom, health, and my own body/mind.
The last time I spoke to mom was on Tuesday, 10/12/21. It was my birthday and she never failed to call me on my birthday. This Sunday, 10/17/21, on my evening drive home from vacation at the beach, I thought of calling mom. I looked at the clock and was 11:38 pm in Brazil. I thought it was late, I didn’t want to wake her up so I didn’t call. I believe that was mom talking to me, saying her good-bye because according to my sister, whatever caused mom to go in a coma happened between 11-11:30 pm and 2 am.
I will miss mom’s laugh, smile, words of wisdom, stories, and amazing cooking. At the end of our calls, she always blessed me, said she prayed for me and that God and Nossa Senhora Aparecida were looking over me. Over the past years, I noticed mom was more emotional and vulnerable. She ended up every call with ‘I love you.’
Mom raised my brother and sister, 7 and 9 years older than me, and I by herself. I was that unexpected and unplanned child. I think God put me in her life for a reason. Mom said that I was her companion. She told me that everything she asked/invited me to do, I said “yes”. So we went. My sister said that mom and I went to hell and back together. As a kid, I had no idea. I was just there.
There are many great memories with mom. Going river fishing was our thing and the most memorable for me. We fixed and built things in the house together. She loved to watch me play with other kids. She helped me build toys to play with. We played cards and games together and with friends. We raised and killed pigs and chickens together. We had dogs and cats–she got me the best dog ever that became my best friend and protector for many years.
By example, mom taught me to value money, work ethic, discipline, hard work, respect, integrity, and independence. She gave me FREEDOM to play as long as I did my part (homework and house duties). Although she gave me hard time for not wearing dresses and skirts and playing with dolls, she let me be.
She was very stubborn. It was her way or no way. In hindsight, it makes sense for a single mom. She did what she had to do to keep control of things. She learned from the best, my grandma–also a single mom of 6 children. As a mother, she played both roles of mom and dad, just like her mother.
Over time, as I learned more about her past and upbringing, I grew deep compassion and understanding for her and her actions. She did her best and taking into consideration her upbringing, background, and education, she was a champion. She never gave up on anything she put her mind to. She never made excuses for anything—or at least I don’t remember of ANY. It’s quite amazing, actually. Over the last years, books, therapy, and inspirational leaders thought me that we cannot give what we don’t have to give. Mom gave no more or less than she ever had or received as a child.
Mom turned to be an entrepreneur. She knitted beautiful sweaters for us and for sale. She taught me to do it and we would stay up late knitting together. She was proud of her products and always delivered them on time. We made homemade sweets for my brother and sister to sell at school and work. She helped raise a few of the kids in the neighborhood. I helped her change diapers, feed, and bathe these kids. One of them was my sister’s son who was with us since he was a month old. He is now an accomplished man in his 30’s. His wedding in October 2019 was a beautiful event and mom exuded happiness, pride, and beauty.
In my mid-teens, she started selling homemade ice cream from the front door window. On the weekends, I’d buy ingredients and we would make ice cream together. Little by little she built it up to sell all sorts of products. Then, she built her mini-market on the side of the house. All of us helped and supported her initiative for as long as she lived.
“Cantinho da Vo Celia” (Grandma Celia’s Little Corner) became the go-to place for many people’s day-to-day household items. It grew to the point of giving her financial stability and independence for many years. She loved seeing her clients. She made lots of friends. She helped many people. She was loved. In the last few years, although her health was impaired and was difficult to walk, lift, and keep all neat and organized, she couldn’t let it go. That home mini-market and people who walked in gave her a reason to wake up every day. Many people helped through the years, thank you all!
Mom’s life was not easy. As early as 6 y/o, my grandmother put mom to work at a people’s home to help with money. Mom was the older child and helped grandma raise her siblings. Mom loved to learn and school but in 4th grade, she had to quit school to help grandma.
In her early teens, she was seduced by my father who was 13 years older. She fell in love with a man she couldn’t have. They fell in love, the “forbidden” type. He never spent a night with mom or us. He was more active coming and going before I was born. However, by the time I was conceived, he was already ‘out of the picture’ and that impacted me as a child as ultimately as an adult.
The last 6 years, since I’ve started my coaching business, I’ve spent a great deal of time and money trying to figure out who/what/why about myself. I’ve been done a lot of digging, touch conversations, ha-ha moments, and turning points opportunities for me. I’ve been covering very emotional terrains. And I’m so so glad I started this process while mom was alive. The power of parents–their lives, behaviors, habits, verbal and non-verbal communication, practices, etc., is insanely impressive. I learned and decided it was up to me to give my lifestyle and destiny a different/better direction so I could become the best version of myself.
During my life, 47 years, mom had two boyfriends. In the past 2-3 years, she told me many stories about mom/dad love story that started when she was 13 y/o. Mom died in love with my dad.
Mom didn’t understand why I had left my corporate career after completing both undergraduate and MBA school with honors. A career that gave me opportunities to travel the world, live with great financial stability, health insurance, and much more to start my business from scratch as a health/wellness coach. All-new ‘stuff’, no health insurance, and less financial stability.
Indeed, there have been some very hard patches since I left corporate. And although I’d avoid sharing them with mom so she’d not worry, occasionally, she would call me saying she was feeling something wasn’t right and ask what was going on. It seems like moms feel everything.
Eventually, she started to accept my new direction. Once in a while, I would share my wins, how I was helping people, how they were improving, and how satisfying was to me to hear and be part of their progress.
It wasn’t too long ago, I told her she was one of the biggest sources of inspiration for me to change my personal and eventually professional life. I wanted to prevent going through her path of pain, immobility, weakness, dependency, medications galore, etc. I wanted to age stronger, healthier, and fitter. After I saw the possibilities and changes in me, I wanted to transform the lives of others as well.
A couple of years ago she told me that ”If this is what you want, you just keep working hard to make it happen. It is not easy doing all on your own. But look at me and how I started? I did it. You can do it too. When you hit a wall, keep going. One day at a time. I pray for you to achieve your dreams and succeed doing what you want.”
God knows how many conversations I had about her eating, sleeping, and lifestyle habits with mom. She would say she was too old to change; it was not enough time. It seems like I couldn’t help her visualize a better/healthier life for herself. The distance and lack of proper help by her side made it very hard to make improvements. At some point, she asked me to stop making suggestions because she didn’t want to fight with me. This was hard for me. Honestly, I think that she knew she was weak and unless she had a great deal of support from one of us or someone else 24/7, she couldn’t do what I was asking her to do so why talk about it?
Mom wanted to do better, and do, play, and move more. Her body had been breaking down slowly and more rapidly in the last 2-3 years. She couldn’t understand why this was happening to her. Why this was happening to her after all she had gone through in life. She’d tell me things she did at my age, how vibrant and strong she was, and say “look at me now”. She had lost sense of purpose and hardily anything I said made her believe she could rediscover purpose again—especially with the pain and the fact that her children were gone. Her inability to do things as she used to broke her heart and depressed her deeply.
I had to accept certain things about mom. A few years ago, I also learned I needed to take a different role in order to contribute to her life from a distance. I was the child who left home to be far away, left her roof, and left her ‘alone’.
I learned that my role was to give mom space to tell me more about her life/past, do not judge her thoughts and actions, let her vent and speak up, feel heard and understood, and make her laugh and dismiss her pain and discomfort as much as possible during our conversations.
The truth is…I could feel that I was going to lose her sooner than later. Of course, I didn’t want her to go but it has been painful for her. It’s been painful to see/hear her go through this.
I have plenty of other pictures of mom but I want this one to be her flagship. It’s the most recent I have of her that I took in-person in 2019. She looks beautiful, happy, and radiant. That’s how I want to remember her.
Mom, I will be forever grateful for all your sacrifices. I just hope I expressed my gratitude enough times so you left this world knowing it and that I love you above all.
Now go on. Fly high. Enjoy your next chapter. Be happy. Be merry. Be the best version of yourself. Go after your dreams. Send me signs you can hear and see me grow older. We shall meet again.
Rest In Peace! ❤❤❤