The Fight of Her Life

A week ago today, my mom passed away in her sleep. For the memorial service on Sunday, I stood by her casket and talked to family and friends about how selflessly devoted she was to her kids. I joked about how she would often tell people that she was the daughter of a used car salesman and how she didn’t take no for an answer. My mom was tough. You wouldn’t believe it from the picture above, but that was after 15 years confined to her home, shriveling up from Hyperkyphosis with a variable sleep schedule that was directed by unbearable back pain. I’m glad to know she’s free of pain now, but I wasn’t ready to let go of my mom yet and I can’t help but be a little angry about the circumstances.


The picture above is probably from 1993 and that’s how I’ll always remember my mom. Before you ask, yes, that’s me in the blue stripes. Mom’s struggle started in 1998, while working as a medical records organizer. She moved a heavy box and injured a disk in her lower back. It was a pretty typical back injury but getting treatment through Workers’ Compensation was a slow, frustrating process. When she finally did get authorized for surgery, she was assigned an inexperienced doctor who terribly botched an attempt at a spinal fusion. After that surgery she was in more pain than before. She fought to get several more corrective surgeries, with pain levels increasing after each one until, eventually, no doctor would take on her case.

Nearly 10 years after her original injury and being told that there were no more surgical options on the table, my mom settled her case with Workers’ Comp and slowly, surely, withered away. I have to emphasize the slowly part because she didn’t go down without a fight. I’m sure she stuck around for 2 reasons, my Dad and her grandbabies!

Mom and Grandbabies

My dad is amazing and represents everything I can ever hope to be as a father, grandfather and a husband. Over the years he transitioned from being a busy cabinet maker and volunteer church elder to a full-time caretaker for Mom. For a while, Mom wanted to move back “Out West” where she was from. In her condition, that wasn’t possible so in May of 2010, my parents bought a fixer-upper of a house on a few acres in nearby Fellsmere. Despite her deteriorating health, Mom loved her rural home where they had 3 cows, some chickens a Chocolate Lab named Sadie. A month after closing on “Lil Bit Ranch”, Mom and Dad became “Mom Mom” and “Pop Pop” with the birth of their first grandchild. Now they have 5 grandchildren with one more due at the end of March.

While I wish my mom could’ve held our second baby, that would’ve been wishing her 4 more months of pain. She knew the due date, so if she could have waited, I’m sure she would have. Mom fought long and hard but I’m happy to know that she’s in a place with no more tears, no more pain, and no more sorrow. As I said though, I’m still a little angry. Instead of directing that anger toward any particular person or agency, I’m just going to leave it here with this takeaway, “Don’t let anyone mess with your health.” If you’re injured, do everything in your power to get well as fast as possible, regardless of the cost or red tape.

I’ve been pretty silent about Mom’s death over the last week but have appreciated the condolences I’ve received in person, on Twitter and on Facebook. I got to talk to friends at the memorial service that I haven’t seen since elementary school and I spent time looking through lots of old family pictures while playing with my nieces and nephews at the ranch. I still miss my mom terribly but I’ve got a lot to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Eve.


Patricia Gail Beaird, 58, of Vero Beach, passed away on Wednesday, November 20th. She was born to John and Patricia Neely, August 22nd, 1955, in Covina, CA. Patty married Joel A. Beaird on December 24th, 1976, and they lived together in Vero Beach before moving to Fellsmere, FL. Patty was a loving wife and mother of three children. She enjoyed spending time with her children and grandchildren away from the city at their property, Lil Bit Ranch, in Fellsmere. Her family is comforted knowing that she is now with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Patty is survived by her husband, Joel A. Beaird, and three children, Jason Beaird, Jered Beaird and Jenna Power. She is also survived by 5 grandchildren.

9 comments on “The Fight of Her Life

Ralphael Austin says:

Sir, I truly understand the love that you share & devotion that you have for your mother. I too know of the amount pain that you feel. Realizing there was such a distinction from the person I knew who was so a vibrant person to the person that suffered through so much pain. It’s hard to accept the lost on the aspect that my children don’t get to know the love that made me who I am. Her pain is gone, but her love lives forever!

Dagan Ocaña says:

Hey man, I’m so sorry to hear about this. You’re striking the grieving balance of loss + knowledge of her better state well. I have fond memories hanging out with you guys and my only wish was that I hadn’t let time and life come in the way of continuing our relationship. Your whole family is awesome and do miss them all dearly.
The last time I saw your mother was after an interval of 6 years. I didn’t experience the slow degradation, I experienced a quick one. The immediate change from how I knew her to what her body had become. Even in the pain (of which I’m intimate) she had a glowing soul and her cynicism was disproportionate to her experiences in life in that it was less than it could have been.
My heart goes out to all of you.

Amber Gwinnup says:

Aunt Patty was the most joyous soul I know. I will always remember her at her best. She was devoted to the extreme to her children, for that we are all grateful. We all have many fond memories, we will continue to share. We will strive to heal our pain while we look to our side and see her footprints in the sand. She is resting in peace and her soul will go. xoxo

Paul Bryant says:


So sorry to hear about mom. She was a great woman. I will be praying for you all. Psalm 55:22

Kathy Summerlin says:

A beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman.

Cara Monroe says:

<3 That was very sweet and we'll said Jason I have pictures of the memories of my childhood with all the kids from the neighborhood and ur mom and my mom when you all use to live next door to my grandma and grandpa my thoughts and prayers go out to ur family she will never be forgotten let angels will be with u all <3

[…] planned to spend the holiday here preparing for construction, but that all changed when my mom passed away on November 20th. We quickly packed some clothes, the baby and our cat in the SUV and rushed to […]

Marcia Loewinger says:

I will miss sending her political jokes that I know made her laugh. She was a lovely person. The pain is gone, but the wonderful memories remain. I love the picture in the go cart.

Thank you so much, Jason, for giving us a glimpse of your love for your mom. Your writing revealed a wonderful picture of a family’s love the way it should be. A wife with enduring love for her husband, a mother commited to her children, a husband letting go of all else to love his wife to the end and children loving as they observe and embrace the source of their parents love, God. Thank you so much for sharing! We continue to pray for you and your family.

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