In Loving Memory
We Celebrate the Life of my Mother Carolyn Monroe Votaw McCage.
We are asking in lieu of flowers or gifts to donate to cover any remaining expenses and for a memorial to place next to daddy’s grave.
On behalf of her family, we would like to thank each and every one of you for your generosity.
Any and all remaining proceeds will be donated to a cancer society in her name or a scholarship fund to train future Technicians or Truck Drivers.
Mom’s Story ~
My mother was an amazing woman. She was such a free spirit. She loved her family and my dad with all her might. She went to school in Paducah TX and in her pre-teen years grew up in Hill County. She and my dad were childhood sweethearts and eventually married in May of 1971. I was born a year later.
Within the next five years they had a total of four children. Bryan, the youngest had complications, he was premature and he was care-flighted to Scott & White Hospital in Temple TX. My dad worked at Goodyear Tire, he also joined the police academy. Later on he took on the family business and worked construction as a concrete and mason worker. After all, they had a lot of mouths to feed by then.
Mom was a stay at home wife and took care of the household duties during the day and hunted down my dad in the evening if he was not home by six-o’clock. She was not about any monkey business. If she had to stay home to take care of all these children then he should be home too after the work was done. By the time we were all in school, my mom decided to go to work. She started out working in local restaurants as a waitress and eventually a cook. She and dad loved to go out on the weekends and either sing at the Chaparral in Blum TX or Mountain Springs in Hillsboro, TX.
The Lake was one of mom and dad’s getaway places. They both loved to go camping and fishing. My dad and his brothers would run trotlines at Lake Whitney and Aquila Lake. Our whole families would all meet up at the lake and spend the weekend. That is probably one the most fondest memories I have of all of my family together, going swimming and eating bologna sandwiches and cheese puffs and exploring with my siblings and my aunts.
My parents were amazing people. I mean they had their bad times but they also had their good. I would like to remember the good times over the bad any ole’ day. My dad did not like my husband when we first met. My husband James and I met at Whitney High School in 1989 and of course like my mom and dad we fell in love. My dad did not like my husband when they first met. My dad told me “He’s a long-haired hippie”! My husband had long hair in high school and played football. He was a young high school girl’s dream. Daddy didn’t approve. Momma loved him to death. She was happy for me. She remembered what it was like when she fell in love with daddy.
James and I lost our first child Angela in May 1990. It was a devastating experience for any young couple. My dad consoled my husband and I knew he loved him. Just like any parents, they want you to be happy but they also want to hold on to you and never let you go. It took my a long time to realize this. My siblings all moved away and got married except my younger brother until about 2009 he married his wife Karina. Eulas married his high school sweetheart Glenda only they never had children. Well except for Rowdy a Lhasa Apso and Tee-tiny a Deer Chihuahua, they are like family. Misty had a prior marriage that didn’t work out but had two beautiful daughters from it. She remarried in 2008 and had more, between biological and step-children they had ten children total.
My dad passed away at age 45 of a massive coronary in August 1996 leaving my 40-year-old mother a widow, it almost destroyed her. She searched for him everywhere for months before she realized he was never coming back. She eventually remarried Darrell McCage in 1998. Darrell reminded mom of daddy. He was the drummer in a band and they met at Country Roads in Whitney TX. They both went to truck driving school and obtained their CDL and drove teams for Swift, JB Hunt and Heartland Express. Darrell and my mom were getting loaded and she felt a sharp freezing pain in her lungs when she took a deep breath similar to pulmonary edema. They went to the nearest Biloxi hospital where she was diagnosed with stage 3 non-small cell carcinoma aggressive cancer. Darrell stayed to finish hauling the load. Mom took a greyhound bus home. I left to pick her up at the greyhound bus station in Fort Worth at 3 am that morning in 2004. From here we began the first battle. My sister Misty after her first divorce stayed with mom to help take her to her treatments and help take care of her house while Darrell stayed out on the road.
The oncologist out of Waco suggested combating the cancer with both chemotherapy and max radiation so at this point mom’s like, well what have I got to lose. The cancer went into remission in 2006. In 2007 mom slipped and fell and broke her wrist which never healed back properly, she constantly had issues with it. Shortly after that had a stroke. At this time she was partially paralyzed on the left side. None of this stopped my mother. She was a fighter. She still pushed forward. Refused to get any help unless she just had no other choice.
The year of 2007 or 2008 Mom and Darrell opened D’ Dandies in Whitney off of FM 933. It was a convenient store, a bait shop and the lunchbox where they hired N.O. (Neal Owen) to cook BBQ. I remember mom cooking breakfast and sometimes when she had to go for her check ups N.O. would express “I ain’t no line cook”. with emphasis, which was funny but he did it anyway. Mom and Darrell moved into town and Darrell started working for his brother’s business Centex Tools in Whitney while mom focused on her recovery. Sometime In 2008 mom and Darrell got divorced but remained good friends.
Mom started struggling to find her way a little while after that, she ended up moving back into the two-story house in Whitney with Eulas and Glenda. Her routine became visiting her kids and grand-kids, her family in East and West TX. and going to follow up appointments. Not only was her health starting to fail but by this time she was having issues remembering things. The radiation treatments from before created white matter in her brain which created aggressive dementia. She was on disability but it just didn’t pay the bills. She was still going through physical therapy. Between Misty and myself we took her to Waco and Whitney to her therapy appointments.
In 2017 she starting having more issues, she had complained of severe sharp pains in her right shoulder blade and she started losing her balance and stumbled and fell a lot. The two-story house was becoming her enemy and the dynamics of the stairwell was becoming very difficult. In April 2018 she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Squamous Cell Carcinoma. We had the biopsy done in August and by September we had her port put in and started the first treatment. She was getting chemotherapy however they were not able to do radiation because the last cancer she received full radiation and because of the white matter damage to her brain they said any more would kill her. The radiologist stated that even if the doctor ordered radiation he would not do it. At this point mom moved in with me because her oncologist and pulmonologist was closer.
We rearranged and made room for her. We fixed her room up to look like her room at the two-story, but she never let it get her down. Mom still got up each day and helped around the house. Sometimes she would cook dinner and even got up some mornings and cooked breakfast. She did start to forget what ingredients went into certain dishes but we still ate it just the same. I was enjoying feeling like a kid again. Mom was in the house and taking care of us. From September 2018 to February 2019 the doctor said that mom was not responding to the treatment. The doctor had suggested an experimental drug “not chemotherapy” but it may make it excel or it may slow it down. Mom decided to do it. From February 2019 – October 2019, the doctor noticed the cancer collapsed. Our hopes were high at this time because we were certain that the treatment was starting to work, it was unlike anything the doctor had seen before. The cancer collapsed and mutated. We then went back to chemotherapy from October 2019 – January 2020. By this time mom was getting weaker and weaker. She went from driving a car up until the end of September 2019 to a walker and by Christmas she was in a wheelchair. January 2020 my daughter and I, we needed help taking care of her and we started in home health services.
The last week or so of January, I asked the doctor if the treatments were doing any good because all I could see was that she was getting weaker. I mean a little over year ago she was driving her car, six months before that she was walking and now she is in a wheelchair and can barely get out of bed. The doctor stated that the hope is…The chemotherapy will help slow down the cancer and give mom a quality of life for however long she had left. The type of cancer she has is terminal. There is no cure but I see that she is declining more and more and so I feel it is time for hospice. That week we started trying to get her affairs in order, we filled out legal paperwork, closed accounts that were not necessary and on February 11, 2020 we started hospice care.
March, April and May were good months for mom except for the fact that COVID19 became an issue and she was getting frustrated because she couldn’t go anywhere. I would put her in the car and we would drive around to get her out of the house. She didn’t believe me when I told her all that was happening in the world. Her mind started going at this point. She had good days and bad days. She would see people in her room that weren’t there. She would see lots of children playing in her room. It was at the point she was yelling at them to be quiet because she couldn’t sleep. I would go in there and ask what was the matter. “Those kids won’t be quiet so I can sleep”. The hospice nurse told me that it was her fantasy and whatever she is seeing was real to her and to just play along with it so I started looking under her bed and in her closet, I slapped my hands together and said, “okay, now you kids get on home or I’m gonna call your momma”. Mom said, “are they gone”?, I replied, “yeah there’ gone honey, you can get some rest now.”
We had many days like this always something different. At times it made me chuckle but sad at the same time because I could see my momma slipping further away from me. When June got here, mom was completely bed-ridden. Her hospice nurse had to reduce from tub showers to birdbaths in her bed because the struggle of getting her in and out of the bath as fragile as she is was too risky. Mom’s birthday was on Friday the 21st of August and I had invited her brothers and her nieces and nephew down for her party. Mom was getting pretty week, I called her RN Lori or Hospice multiple times that week because of small issues. We had a wonderful party, I could tell momma really enjoyed seeing all of her family even though she was so tired. Saturday took on a whole new set of problems. Mom did not want to wake up. She was so tired she slept all day, she started refusing food and water late Friday evening but I figured it was due to the festivities. The nurse said that it happens sometimes, she wouldn’t eat a whole lot because her stomach was smaller. She was so tiny now weighing only 65lbs. from 72lbs a few weeks before that and 84lbs a couple months before that. She finally said she was hungry and so I was able to feed her some egg salad and some watermelon on Sunday when the nurse stopped by to take her vitals. Late Sunday evening mom started throwing up black stuff. It scared me. I called the nurse again, this time it was an on call nurse that told me to give her the nausea meds regularly until we get it under control. She did this up through Monday morning and finally stopped around 8:30AM Her nurse came back and decided she would come back each day from here on out.
This would be the last few days I would spend with my mom. I had already been keeping my family posted of the decline at this point, she pretty much stopped eating and drinking, she started rattling when she breathed, but what I did not realize at the time was that her organs had been shutting down. Tuesday night I laid down beside my mom and wrapped my arms around her and held her for over an hour telling her how much I loved her and that I will be here for her. She kept telling me she was dying. I asked her if she was afraid. She said, “I’m not afraid.” I asked her if she wanted me to sing to her and she said yes. I sang Amazing Grace, Blessed Assurance and Serenaded by Angels. Momma told me that she loved me, she kept asking if it was time to go or are we leaving… she would get frustrated and would say, “Come on with it!”, she did not want me to leave her side but, I had to get some sleep because I had not slept much since all of this started, I had been so sick with worry I was exhausted.. My daughter and I took turns. Wednesday morning I had tried to give mom some water, she did take a small amount for me but then pursed her lips and turned her head away. Mom’s RN Lori came but after she checked her vitals she was there for a long period of time and I knew I was running out of time. After about an hour and mom’s rattle got worse, her breathing became more labored the Nurse said if it was okay with me she was going to call in a 24 hour rotation so that I could be the daughter and not the caregiver. That the nurse would handle her comfort meds and keep her changed.
I agreed and started calling my family. My sister and I sat with her, my husband had been so supportive, I couldn’t have asked for a better man in my life. My aunts showed up to give their support. We told her we all loved her and that it was okay to finally rest. Sometime before mom passed. I played it over and over in my mind…my mom had not been able to lift her own body in months, she was so exhausted, her poor little body was so fragile and so tired, but at some point, I can not get the image out of my mind. Lying in her bed and in an almost robotic-like movement she reached for something toward the ceiling and raised her upper body toward it, her eyes on it…and for a few seconds she was in that position and then she completely collapsed. During this time… she no longer responded, she could no longer hear anyone, her eyes did not open and her breathing became more and more shallow. I know her death certificate says she passed at 4:33 but that was when the nurse wrote it down. She passed at 4:17 pm Wednesday August 26, 2020.
What I believe was that she saw something, I could see it in her face that she saw something…I think she seen Jesus or a divine spirit! and I believe when she held up her hand, he took it and led her away. The moment she collapsed and stopped responding to voices and her breathing became shallow… she was transcending, and the further she went the more shallow her breathing. I believe she was escorted to heaven by God.