In Loving Memory Of
Mrs. Sylvia Jean Combs
Dearly Beloved Mother,
Daughter, Wife, Sister, Aunt, Niece, Cousin
Grandmother, Greatgrandmother, And Friend.
December 15, 1944 – December 31, 2020
Mom and me 2013
Greetings sports fans and welcome once more to the continuing saga that is Vegas Valley Sports Beat, that crazy little everything-but-sports sports column that simply refuses to say die. Happy New Year to one and to all, to you and to yours from all of us and all of ours here at Vegas Valley News where we always treat you like family. That said we would like to borrow the car and some gas money, please. Let us turn our attention now to the way of the world today and a matter that is very close to home for me. The passing of my mother last night from COVID-19 and double pneumonia.
On December 15th I went out to dinner with my mother on her 76th birthday and we had a great time but the steakhouse was closed so we got together the following evening and had dinner at the Stockman Steakhouse inside the Pahrump Nugget with a friend of my mother’s. I hit two Royal flushes on the same 50 Cent poker machine that night for just over $900 total. I got the second Royal when my mom walked up beside the machine and asked me what I was doing, and if I had hit the royal on that machine. I said yes and I think it’s going to hit again. She said I think so too and just then I held 3 cards in-suit and hit the royal flush for the second time. I cashed out with $420.90, leaving the royal flush on the screen like I always do.
On Christmas Eve I visited my mom at her house and she was sick in bed. She said she was spitting up lung fluid that was colored with blood and she showed it to me. I told her she needed to go to the hospital but she said she might go the next day if she didn’t feel better. Later that evening I was advised by a Pharmacist friend that the presence of blood indicated pneumonia and I relayed that information to my mom when I visited her the following evening on Christmas Day. Later on that evening my stepfather drove her to Southern Hills Hospital where she is currently expiring from covid-19. She had double pneumonia when she arrived. There is nothing they can do to save her, and she refuses to be ventilated or vaccinated. She hates Bill Gates and she’s going to be a fireball to the end. That’s my mom for you and I applaud her for it too.
Today is December 30th and I have been on the phone whenever possible with my mother because they of course will not allow anyone on the ward to see her. If I visit her as her chaplain it will have to be a virtual visit. She said screw that and I had to agree with her on that. Screw all that.
Earlier today she called to tell me that my stepfather was on his way to the VA Hospital in Las Vegas was symptoms of a heart attack, and then later on he called me to say that he had been admitted to the hospital with covid-19 as well. The good news is his heart is fine. It was just stress related to the fact that his wife is suddenly dying right before his eyes, but he can’t even go up and see her. That, and the fact that his blood oxygen was lowered by the covid-19 infection and so his heart became a little overtaxed, but he was not in any specific danger of a heart attack unless perhaps he had not gone to the hospital when he did that is.
They have been married for 39 years and they are still in love and it’s very hard on both of them to be deathly ill and isolated apart. That is not inherently evil I don’t know what it is. At the very best it’s sick and wrong.
So now I just talked to her and she has just talked to him and she is going to hospice because there is nothing else they can do for her. That’s where we’re at at this very moment in history. I’ve been on the phone with her when a lot of the family has called and it’s so good to hear the outpouring of love. As she said it’s hard to say goodbye, and have to leave behind the ones you love to what you know is going to be such a harsh existence from now on.
I have only recently joined 10 can as a Chaplain and this is not my first time ministering to dying friends and family but when it’s your own mother it takes a little extra strength in order to be strong enough for the both of you. I know she’s scared but she knows there’s nothing to be scared of and she’s facing it as stoically as anyone could expect under such frightening circumstances. Sometimes she talks about what she wants to do when she gets out of the hospital and when she gets better but nothing short of a miracle will make that happen. I know for a fact that miracles are real but I also know that God’s will shall be done regardless of my wishes. Just as certainly as I know that dreams and wishes don’t always come true.
Photobombing Sapporo in Las Vegas with Mom – 2018
Just for a moment it seemed like the wish might come true and she started to get better but it was just a dream. I talked to her several times Wednesday night then early Thursday morning we were talking and she said she was tired and was going to rest but she left the phone line open. I sat here in my home and as I was working I put her on headphones and I listened to her while she struggled to breathe, gasped and many times cried out, and cursed the pain.
I listened to her cry and I heard her say over and over again that she wanted to go home. Meaning she wanted to leave this world. I listened to her practically beg the nurse for water for 45 minutes and they blew her off the whole time. Meanwhile, her kidneys were damaged and only working at 50% each. I listened as the doctor came in trying to sound chipper and optimistic but the writing was on the wall even then and I knew that she was declining quickly.
I heard the doctor tell her that she gave them a scare Tuesday but he didn’t say what that involved. I think that was when her oxygen levels almost crashed and dropped down to 57%. I listened as the nurses interacted with her for over 4 hours before I spoke up and Mom heard me. We spoke for a while longer and then she said that she was tired and she was going to rest and she would call me back later, and then we said goodnight and I told her I loved her and I’d call her back in a couple of hours.
She wanted out of there more than anything because she has always hated being in the hospital. I talked to Terry that morning and he told me to get her out of there so I was trying to get her into a hospice and from there into Home Health Care so she could come home. She was so happy when I told her they were going to transport her to the hospice at 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon, but then they called and said they could not do it at the last minute. They said her breathing was too unstable and Nicole the director said she feared if she took Mom off of the oxygen that she would expire on the way to the facility. It turned out that she was right not 3 hours later.
They sent mom over a hospice nurse to give her a dose of Xanax because the hospital staff at Southern Hills has better things to do and would not give her any to help her calm down. She knew she was dying and she tried to accept it as best she could but as she said it’s hard to say goodbye and she was distraught near the end when I talked to her for the last time. She was in a great deal of pain and she said she was going to ask the doctor to put her into an induced coma.
I finally got things straightened out with Infinity hospice who was very helpful and very kind to her and they went to great lengths to try and get mom out of the hospital to somewhere that she would be cared for. I called Mom at the hospital just after 3 p.m. to let her know they would not be able to transport her and she was upset about that and not being able to get out of bed to do anything for herself since the staff had no time for her. Twice I heard her ask them to come in and help her go to the bathroom and they took so long that she tried to get to the bathroom by herself and had an embarrassing accident on the way.
I spoke to her for a while from the back porch of her house, my Uncle Kenny was there and my service dog, Rhea who kept looking for her grandma and she kept crying for her when she couldn’t find her. She was very upset. While I was talking to Mom, Rhea started crying and trying to say grandma and she was saying I love you because she can talk a little bit. Mom asked why Rhea was crying I said it’s because she’s the sensitive type. We both knew why Rhea was crying though. I could sense it too. We were that close and I know that she understood too. I know she did.
I talked to her again for a few minutes after I got home and then the nurse came in and she had to go so I laid down to take a nap and when I woke up at 7 o’clock the first thing I did was reach for my phone to call her but as I did the phone rang and it was her nurse from hospice telling me that mom passed away around 6 p.m. She said she was very sorry and they had been trying to get ahold of me with no luck. My heart sank to my feet and it’s still there. It’s so heavy right now.
I keep wanting to text her and tell her about some of the things that happened tonight. I went to the Pahrump Nugget, her favorite casino, and they were devastated when I told them that she passed away. The ladies on the staff all knew her very well and they were so supportive and brokenhearted to learn that Mom was gone. Everyone was shocked and they said they really loved her. I have no doubt that they do. They said they were going to notify her friends she knew from the casino for me through their network. I know that many of her friends are going to be heartbroken too.
The hardest part was having to go over to Mom’s house to tell my Uncles, two of her remaining older brothers that she was gone and I found Terry there home from the VA hospital. They let him out of the hospital yesterday afternoon and he did not know that mom had passed away so lucky me I go to tell him. He is taking this very hard I know he is. They were together for 39 years and they never lost any of the love they had in the beginning.
When the hospice nurse called to tell me that mom was gone she told me the hospital wanted to know what I was going to do with the body while I’m still trying to process that there’s even a body involved. I asked her what the hell are they going to do throw her out in the street if I don’t go down there right now? I used to think Southern Hills Hospital was a nice place but now, I wouldn’t let my dog in there anymore. Not even to take a piss on the floor. Fortunately, Starla at Pahrump Family Funeral Home was very helpful. It only took a few minutes to set everything in motion. She had mom picked up and brought back home immediately where we will have to make arrangements for her cremation and memorial service on Saturday morning because they’re closed for New Year’s Day today.
Right now all I can think about is all the time that Mom and I missed spending together because of trivialities. Because of the drama plays acted out by other players that came between us and drove us apart for so long for their own selfish desires, and it breaks my heart. I thank God that we got to clear the air between us, and put all of that aside in the end. I’m glad I was able to sit with her through most of it and minister to her. I know that she made amends with God and went to be with Him on good terms. I was blessed to be able to ease her fears about dying and help her face it because my Mom was one-of-a-kind. She lived her life on her own terms without fear of anyone and she went out on her own terms just like she told me she would.. She pulled her own plug.
If anyone takes anything at all away from this article I pray that it would be this. Don’t waste your breath on the things of this Earth, on things that rust, rot, wither away, and die. Don’t waste a single breath on fighting, fussing bullshit, and senseless drama. There’s no future in it because love is the only thing in this world that lasts forever, and you never know when it might be your last breath. Or someone else’s and then it’s too late. All you’re left with is a bad taste in your mouth from the ashes of a life lost and a lot of regrets that will never be resolved. I am very grateful that I got to spend her last hours with her and to not have those regrets. Only a deep ache from the hole she left in my heart with her passing but I can still feel her all around me and I know from experience that she’s okay now and every little thing’s gonna be alright.
Since I took this job almost 4 years ago, I’ve written a number of obituaries for various celebrities. I never thought that I would have to write one for my mother while she was dying but, here we are. It’s 3:45 am Friday morning, January 1, 2021, and she’s gone. But, a new day is going to be dawning soon which means that I have to edit this article now and post it to the news site so I don’t have much more time. I told Mom, the best way I can describe Heaven is that life goes on without a body or a care in the world. I am so glad that she’s not in any more pain and she won’t fall ill again as she did so often during the past 7 years. I was with her through much of that too and believe me nothing hurts more than helplessness when someone you love is so sick and there’s nothing that you can do to make it better.
Goodnight Mom. I wish I could have stayed awake and sat with you on the phone at the very end so you wouldn’t be completely alone, and surrounded by hostile nurses. But I missed you and now you’re gone. I know that’s how you wanted it and I’m so glad it was peaceful. The hospice nurse, Dawn, said you went to sleep and then you were gone.
I love you so much and I miss you so much already, but I’ll catch up with you soon, just like we talked about. Please give Dad my love, and do remember me, way beyond the blue. Until then I’ll say goodnight with all my love, Mom, and that was the last thing I said to you, but we know we will never have to say goodbye.
Charles Ramos Jr.
January 01, 2021