A Tribute to my Mom

If you don’t mind, I would like to talk about my mom.

I haven’t been to work this week, my mom died late Saturday night.

She was my greatest fan. Nobody cheered more for my successes and happiness – nobody supported me more through my failures and sadness. My greatest support with family and love… and in professional life—on the air…always came from my mom.

Growing up—as the youngest of 4 children with 3-older sisters, you might imagine that I received some special treatment—Teri, Jeanne and Peggy will tell you I was spoiled—they were right...I am not sorry. I was loved…in a way that is unique to a mother and son. By the way, I see that exact same mother-son love play out every day with my wife Kari and our son Jaxson…what a lucky boy to have his mother’s heart the way I had mine.

Let me begin here—we all have our own stories of a mother’s love. This is mine. My mom—Shirley June McDonald, grew up in a loveless orphanage in Green Bay and was never—ever shown a mother’s love. When she married my Dad-Bob, they would begin a 61-year journey together. Three daughters and then a son.

My mom—and dad, had tremendous work ethic—that may have skipped me in the gene pool. They were at every game I played. Baseball, football and basketball games that Mike played in… always took top billing, sometimes even at the expense of important milestones for my older sisters.

That didn’t change when I entered into adult life.

If I was on TV, my mom wanted to know what channel and what time. After my parents moved back to Wisconsin from Florida…and I started my radio show, my mom and dad would many times, get in the car and drive around Clintonville, or Appleton to hear just a little bit through the static on our strong daytime signal. I don’t know that mom ever really cared what it was that I was talking about…she just wanted to hear my voice on the radio…it made her proud.

About 5-years ago, mom was diagnosed with vascular dementia. Yet, she never lost her connection to family, never lost her love and memories, and never lost her place as a mom or grandma—Nonny, or even as a great grandma. She and my dad moved home—to Appleton in 2014. My dad took care of everything in the house, cooking—cleaning—all of the day to day. Incredible love and devotion—inspiring.

Over the past couple of years, my favorite day of the week was Wednesday’s during the Packers season. Wednesday was the day that I would go to Green Bay for locker room interviews and my radio show. It was also when I would stop and spend a couple of hours with mom and dad, drinking coffee and telling stories. Dad said, “Mom loved Wednesday’s.” Not as much as I did.

Last week, my mom got sick. By Wednesday, they stopped medicating. I had just arrived in Salt Lake City after a 20-hour drive to visit my oldest daughter-Amanda. The next morning, my wife-Kari, and I were on a flight home to be with my mom.

Thursday was one of the greatest days of all time. We all made it to my mom’s bedside; all four children, all of her grandchildren and some of her great-grandchildren, her closest friends and relatives. Mom woke up and loved every new visitor. She knew everyone and shared a moment of love. That was her way. She loved her husband and children without condition, and if you loved one of us—she loved you. My mom (given her childhood) sometimes wondered if she was loved. If that was EVER truly in doubt, those doubts were erased on Thursday, February 9th.

Two nights later, just before midnight, my mom took her final breath. 11:56pm on Saturday, February 11th. That will forever, be the saddest moment of my life.

My mom always answered an “I love you” from her kids and grandkids with—“I love you more.” Although it’s hard to imagine that being possible, no one in our family can ever really argue that. It was born out in the way she lived her life—she showed us even more often that she told us.

I have learned to believe, that the greatest legacy you can leave in life—is love. My mom’s legacy is ridiculous.

The greatest gift and honor, is that—I am my mother’s son.

I love you mom—and I know—you will always love me more.

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