My Hero

Liz Gelber circa 1946. Bye, Mom. And thank you. I miss you already.

My Mom died today. She suffered a severe stroke recently and this, in addition to injuries sustained 18 months ago in a home invasion/robbery, has robbed her of any quality of life. Before her injuries, she was the most extraordinary human being I have ever known (and I’ve known some pretty famous and powerful people). In 2009, she struggled to regain what she lost from a massive brain injury at the hands of an intruder. She regained some of her speech but never walked again. Now, she has been totally disabled by a stroke and is no longer able to communicate or swallow or even understand language. She was wise enough to leave instructions that made her wishes clear: No heroic effort to keep her alive once she is beyond hope. She continued to hang on for a full three weeks but now she is gone.  She was made of tougher stuff than most. My Mom was born in the wrong century. She would have made an ideal frontierswoman. Had she been born in 1825 instead of 1925 you would have heard of her as a pioneer crossing the country in a covered wagon, enduring without complaint the hardships of the journey. She would have been killing her own food and any hostiles that might have impeded her progress. She would have built her own home with her bare hands and planted crops to sustain her family. But she didn’t. Instead, she raised 9 sons. Three doctors, four in financial services/investment, a geologist and me.  That, in itself, would be extraordinary. She also went back to school after her children were gone and got her Masters in Communications and directed and edited a cable TV program (following in my footsteps, I guess) called “Women Together” which anticipated many women’s issues by a decade. But that isn’t the pioneer part. My Mom never learned the meaning of the word “can’t”. If a room needed wallpapering, she was a paper hanger. She was also a seamstress-she made most of her own clothes because she thought she could do it as well as anyone. She was a landscaper, a party planner, a fine artist (like her father), an accomplished cook touting all the things that the food programs talk about now that food is hip. She taught herself to windsurf when she was in her 60’s and cross country skied into her 80’s. She was the “mama grizzly” that Sarah Palin wishes she was. She nearly died protecting her home and her husband. Liz Gelber had no help and needed none in anything she did. She never left a job unfinished and never listened to criticism. She just did. Scraped knees, broken bones and perhaps the occasional broken heart didn’t phase her at all. Two parts caregiver, one part wife, a dash of Psychiatrist and a healthy handful of arcane knowledge made her the “go to” expert in every situation. There was no stain she couldn’t remove, no hurt she couldn’t make better, no casserole she couldn’t burn and no better person on this Earth. There’s a word for women like this and it’s a real little one. Seems a little puny for such a huge presence: Mom.

I’ll get back to the guitar stuff later in the week.

11 Responses to “My Hero”

  1. blewsbreaker says:

    Really sorry to hear about that Charlie…she sure sounded like a wonderful lady.
    What a great picture!
    All the best,

  2. OK Guitars says:

    Thanks Bob. She was all that and more. We all looked pretty good at 21.

  3. frickengruvin says:

    Heartfelt condolences to you and those that are close to you Charlie. You described my Bubby almost to a tee wiwth the description of your mom…
    Gone, but never forgotten…Seems the longer time goes by, the more lessons I learn from her without her being physically present.

  4. Larry/ bluesjuke says:


    I’m deeply sorry to hear this news of your Mom. You all are in my Prayers.

    What a wonderful tribute you have written to a Mom that went all out for those she loved and lived her life to the fullest not wasting any of it at all.
    You boys have been truly blessed and it’s apparent that you have always been aware of that blessing.

    Her Love endues, Bless you all.

    Larry/ bluesjuke

  5. ajmojave says:


    My sincerest condolences. it sounds like your mom was an amazing person. May she rest is peace.

  6. Thierry says:

    Dear Charlie,

    All my sincere condolences. My wife past away last year, I miss her every minutes and seconds in between. Our children are now my engine and a good one. Music helps a lot as well. Basically I resume to play the guitar as a therapy and it works.



  7. Didier says:

    Very sad for you. Read also about your father’s day.
    Bless you all too.

  8. Lindsay says:

    Very sorry for your loss. Really honest, loving, heartfelt and beyond touching comments you wrote in sharing a little bit of your mother with the rest of us. Thanks for that. What a nice way to share and honor her.
    I would say that she was as blessed to have you as her son as she was to have you as your mother.

    My best thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.


  9. Lindsay says:

    What I meant to write (and thought I was until I re-read it…) was that she was as blessed to have you as her son as you were to have her as your mother.
    Apologies for the shoddy typing


  10. thinline says:

    Thanks for sharing your touching tribute and wonderful photo. My best to you and your family.

  11. Matt J says:

    I was away on vacation from the middle of last week until last night and just saw your most recent post. I was deeply saddened to hear about the loss of your mom. I can see that you were truly blessed to have her in your life and obviously she was blessed to have you as a son. I have been fortunate to have been raised by a similar mom and your tribute to your mom has inspired me to thank her and God for her being in my life.

    My deepest condolences to you and to your family during this difficult time.


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