My video tribute to my mom:

Click the blue link to hear audio:

YOU WERE THERE INSTRUMENTAL Copyright 2014 by Judy Unger


Copyright 2011 by Judy Unger

All my life, every day

you were there, when I’d need you

all the time, I just knew you’d be there

and you’d see me through

I’ve always known, I’m not alone . . .

You were so strong

You’d pick me up when I’d fall down

so I can see all the strength you gave me


Although I try, it’s hard to say goodbye

to someone who’s loved me all of my life

And when I’m sad, because you’re not there

I’ll still see your love everywhere

Everything that I did you’d applaud

You were right there watching me

as I grew, sharing joy and my heartache, too

I always knew, that I had you . . .

Now I’m so strong

I picked you up when you fell down

I’ve learned to see just how strong I could be


Although I try, it’s hard to say goodbye

to someone who’s loved me all of my life

And when I’m sad, because you’re not there

I’ll still see your love everywhere

When you are gone

I’ll say a prayer

And I’ll remember

how you were there

My mother was with me when all four of my children were born.

I use the words “releasing a song” to describe the process of composing the words and melodies that are within my soul. This past year I have realized that with each and every song I’ve “released,” my soul has ached intensely.

The “birth of song” is actually very painful for me – it is an indescribable feeling.

Whenever I hear the chords to my new song, I cry each and every time. My most recent song has left me feeling quite emotional.

My life is very poignant right now. I am so glad that I am able to express myself through my music and words. I wish I were a better singer – but I am finding out that a lot of people appreciate my heartfelt, song renditions. I never dreamed that would happen when I picked up my guitar approximately one year ago!

I recorded my song “You Were There” on Sunday. It is not quite finished, but I can share a “temporary” mix. I spent a lot of time discussing how the song’s structure should go with my arranger, George.

I knew he wouldn’t like having the long instrumental beginning I envisioned! I followed his advice, and ended up loving George’s simple introduction created from the verse chords.

It was another spiritual experience for me when George recorded his solo instrument and piano to complement my guitar instrumental portion of my song.

When he did his “solo” for the instrumental interlude – he did it perfectly the first time he played it. I asked him how he did that. He said, “Jude, I was jamming and I couldn’t do it the same way twice.” I could tell he was pleased with how it came out.

This morning, I thought about what I would write for a post that was named for my new song.

I decided that this song “hatched” a few weeks ago when I wrote something about my mom entitled “She Was There.” I moved those words to this post. There is certainly a lot going on in my life. However, at this moment I want to write about any feelings related to my song.

From the time I was born, I was bathed in love.

I have said before that I had an “unblemished” heart throughout my childhood and youth. I was very much loved and wanted. I was also the youngest in my family and always known as “the baby.” It was hard for my middle brother who had been the youngest for six years before I was born.

My mother was also the baby in her family.

Recently, I remembered I had some DVD conversions of old, “reel to reel” movies. This morning, I decided to watch them. I specifically recalled a scene where my mother “glowed” while showing me off as an infant.

It was especially touching for me to see those images in my “highly charged,” emotional state.

Beams of love shot out of her eyes and face.

Once again, I saw that my mother glowed with pure joy while holding me – she was radiant. She was literally dancing as she held me. I have heard over and over many times that I was “the little girl she had always dreamed of having.”

With my digital skills, I made some “snapshot” images from those old movies.

My mother is pregnant with me in this picture.

This morning, I looked forward to sitting in the garden area with my mom. The sunlight was warm and soothing; it couldn’t have been a more beautiful day. We looked for a nice spot to park my mother’s wheelchair. Her caregiver, Miriam, walked along side of me.

I told my mom that I had recorded a new song. I wondered what she would think about my song, and I asked her if she wanted to listen to it on my iPod.

She did, and I adjusted the music for her while she listened. I was nervous and fidgeted for those few minutes; then she took off the ear buds.

She told me she didn’t like my song!

Miriam also listened to my song. I watched Miriam close her eyes, and tears rolled slowly down her cheeks.

While Miriam was listening my mother said, “Your song is too sad, and it’s too soon. Maybe later on, but not now.”

She didn’t want to think about leaving!

I wasn’t hurt. I smiled broadly and was pleased that I had the courage to share it with her. I wanted to be close enough to still let her know what I was feeling.

We have had great difficulty speaking about anything related to her dying.

I have no idea whether my mother is “dying” or not – I really don’t. According to the hospice team, my mother is definitely appropriate for hospice because she did not have her hip “repaired.

After that, I played my guitar in the golden sunlight. I chose many of my mom’s favorite songs that I used to play. The experience was quite beautiful. After an hour I had to leave to attend a meeting with the staff at my mom’s nursing facility.

The room was full. I was surrounded by a roomful of professionals facing me down. There were nine medical staff members at this meeting. It reminded me of the many times I had advocated for my children. I tried to remain calm and be articulate.

There was a lot of discussion about pain medication. The general opinion was that my mother definitely needed stronger painkillers to address her pain. When my mom has been on any painkiller in the past, she has become extremely disoriented, agitated, or immobile. I explained this.

I have seen my mother in extreme pain before. She has told me she does not have much pain now, even when she has been moved.

The medical staff told me that my mother’s short-term memory prevented her from realizing how much pain she was in. I was also told that perhaps my mom didn’t want to tell me about her pain. It was there when I was not watching.

I reminded everyone that her personal caregiver kept in close touch with me, and had not seen any severe pain that required additional medication. I remained firm that my mother was not to receive them at the current time. If she needed them later on, I’d let them know.

I was told that my mother was not allowed to walk again ever. No therapy would be given.

After that, I requested another opinion from a different orthopedic doctor. I was told the same doctor who did her shoulder repair could give the opinion. That didn’t work for me since his surgery (according to another specialist) was actually not the best approach for my mother.

My mother told me yesterday that her shoulder hurts her more than her hip.

I also mentioned the resident across the hall who walks had told me she had not had surgery for two, fractured hips.

I became sad when I was told that my mom’s “neighbor,” Sara, most definitely had hip surgery; that she was considered too demented to know the truth. Sara seemed very sharp and articulate to me. I will certainly check this out.

But now, I cannot write any more about this!

Clicking on this makes it larger.

The meeting ended and I drove to buy my mother her favorite lunch, a hot dog with fries. I returned with several bags, including soup.

Miriam, my mother, and I ate our picnic. I breathed in deeply and savored the calmness. I was pleased to see how alert my mother was as she relished her food.

Miriam thanked me profusely for arranging this lunch. I was glad that I was able to “make it happen.” I let her know that I received a greater gift in return. Both of us knew this was a special moment I would always remember.

My emotional mood began to overwhelm me. I could feel tears falling inside my throat, because I didn’t want to allow them to fall in front of my mother.

So instead, I unfortunately ate all the leftover French fries. I am so human!

My mother was smiling. I asked her again if she needed any painkillers. She adamantly shook her head no. She said, “I sleep too much already. Plus, I really don’t have any pain, honey!”

As I drove home, my soul ached as I remembered those images of how happy my mom was on the video I watched this morning – of when I was born. I was glad to have seen her so happy today.

I have written four posts that were called “A Daughter’s Love.” I do not plan to follow up any more with the emails that were the beginning of my “writing therapy.” However, I do want to share one message that was one of the last ones I wrote during that time.

I wrote this email message approximately one year ago. My mom was soon to be released from the hospital after being weaned from a respirator for seven weeks.

January 25, 2010

I am finding clarity through writing.  It was always another direction I had hoped to explore; it is possible that I might move into that direction more now.

I sat down early this morning, and I began to craft my final entry for Tuesday when my mom is released from the hospital.  Here it is:

When my mom had the code blue and was intubated, I spoke with my good friend, Janet, who is a writer.  I told her that I couldn’t do anything at this point, so it would be an excellent time to write my mom’s eulogy.  I needed to be able to put into words all of my love for her.  Since I’d have less than three days to write it, while also planning the funeral, this was something I could definitely make time for.  I’d be “on top of things.”  Of course, I was also trying to figure out how to straighten up my home for all the visitors.

Janet’s words were brilliant.  “Why don’t you just write a tribute, not a eulogy? That way, it will be there if you need it – but if you don’t, it’s also a beautiful thing to do.

Well I realized something this morning.  Even though I thought I never found the time to write that eulogy/tribute, it turns out that I was writing a tribute all along through my emails.

My mom and Jason when he was an infant.

(I posted this two weeks ago, but it belongs on this post. I moved it here)


I was an adult in my early twenties. Suddenly, I felt like a baby again with the stomach flu. I was home alone and could barely move. “I’d be fine,” I told my mom on the phone.

I opened my eyes.


It was the kind of fatigue that was beyond being alleviated by sleep. I was full of an intense, restless anxiety while at the same time my eyelids were as heavy as bricks. The night was giving way to dawn.

I had gone another night without a single moment of sleep. Jason wouldn’t stop crying – he was only a few weeks old. I wondered – would I be able to continue this pace of trying to feed this impossibly, sick child without any sleep?

The doorbell rang. Jason was still crying as I opened the front door.


There was no reason to get up. I did not want to get up. I was under the covers. I had no tears left and my body was completely spent from crying for days and days. It had been a few months since Jason died and my husband went to work.

No one was home. Even though I heard the doorbell, I ignored it.

I wanted to die.

She had let herself in with a key. My bedroom door opened, and she pulled down my covers. She lay down next to me, and cried.


© Judy Unger and 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About Judy

I'm an illustrator by profession. At this juncture in my life, I am pursuing my dream of writing and composing music. Every day of my life is precious!
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3 Responses to YOU WERE THERE-PART 1

  1. Emilie says:

    dearest Judy,
    You are an inspiration!
    much love,


  2. inmycorner says:

    Oh, my goodness! What a wonderful relationship you shared with your Mom. It is so very clear that she was a special lady. Wonderful tribute to your Mom – she would have been very proud of you. My heart goes out to you and your family. What a good daughter.

    Liked by 1 person

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