And when she reached near the end of her life I was at the US Attorneys national conference in San Diego, and my brother called me and said to me, listen, Mom’s back in the hospital and it’s real bad and if you want to speak to her again you need to come home now, like now. It’s really bad. So I took the redeye flight home from San Diego and I landed in Newark Airport the next morning around 9:00 and got in a car and drove to St. Barnabas Hospital in Livingston where she was, and I got there at about 9:30 in the morning. And when I got there they had started to give her morphine already, and anybody who’s been through this with a family member or a friend of yours, you know that’s really the signal of the imminent end, because she’s in a lot of pain and she’s going to start to go into a coma, and so I didn’t know whether I had gotten there in time or I hadn’t. So I sat next to her. She was sleeping for a while, and then she woke up. And I was sitting next to her, and she said to me what day is it? Now Carol will know that my mother, you know, didn’t, you know, have a lot of niceties when she wanted to say something. So there was no hello, you know, good to see you, when did you get home? She said what day is it? And I said it’s Friday. And she said what time is it? I said it’s about 9:30 in the morning. And she said go to work. Carol just said it, right? You knew that’s what she’d say. She said go to work. I said, Mom, well, I decided to take the day off today. I’m going to spend the day with you. And she said, Christopher, it is a workday. Go to work. And I said to her, like, what are you, afraid you’re not going to get your taxpayer’s money’s worth today? I’ll like make up the time. Don’t worry about it. She reached over. She grabbed my hand and she said to me, Christopher, go to work. It’s where you belong. There’s nothing left unsaid between us.
She was giving me permission to let her go. And what she said to me that day was the way she raised us. Carol would tell you, my mother never kept anything to herself. If Mom had a problem, you knew about it. If Mom had something on her mind, she said it. And she used to say to me all the time when I’d say to her, I don’t need to hear this. Leave me alone. Stop complaining or whatever it was about. She’d say to me, listen buddy, you’re going to appreciate this because there’s going to be no deathbed confessions with me. You’re going to hear it all now. Well, she was right, because when the deathbed moment came she said there’s nothing left unsaid between us. And I know that if my Mom were here now, to experience this circus that my life has become, she would love this stuff, because she would say, they shouldn’t wonder what you’re thinking. They shouldn’t wonder what you’re feeling. They shouldn’t wonder what you believe. You should tell them. They trusted you enough to vote for you twice. You need to tell them.
And so I absolutely believe this morning that my Mom somehow got the instinct to me to look at this woman standing in the back with this awful picture on the cover of Time Magazine of me, which my mother would have hated. She would have said smile, come on, you know? She would have hated it. But somehow it made me ask her to come up here. We have so much to be grateful for in this state and in our lives. It doesn’t mean our lives will be without trouble or controversy or difficulty or testing. But what it means is that because of who we are and where we live and the way we treat each other we have an inner strength that I really believe comes from where we’re from, because of the test that we go through, because of the challenge of living here, and because of the closeness that people feel to each other, that we have a strength to deal with whatever issues are put before us. So we talked about a lot of tough issues this morning. There’s no reason we can’t solve them. It’s like my mother said to me that day at the hospital. Get to work. It’s where you belong. Well, let me just guarantee you something: for every day that I am fortunate enough to be your Governor, those words ring in my head. Get to work Christopher. It’s where you belong. That’s what I’ll continue to do every day you give me the privilege of being the governor of this state. I can’t thank you enough for the honor that it is to serve and I’ll see you soon.
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