Remembering Mom

momMy mom passed away 29 years ago today. I was in seminary in Nashville and she was in Oklahoma. We had learned during the summer that her brain tumor had grown back and was inoperable. My mom wanted me to stay in school rather than come home for the duration of her life, so I decided to become an expert on death. I enrolled in Pastoral Care for the Sick and Dying. I read books like May Sarton’s The Reckoning. I wrote poetry and did art about death and how I felt.

Mom was cared for at home by Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, and many, many people from Grace United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City. At some point she was moved to the hospital where she lived for several months before she died. (I guess hospice care had not come to Oklahoma yet.) In October of that year, Dad called to say I might want to come to see her while she was still conscious. I flew home, all ready to have meaningful conversations about life and death and whatever Mom wanted to talk about.

I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but it didn’t happen. (Life is funny that way.) Mom couldn’t really talk … at least with words. Every so often she would say a word or two that let us know she was still in there. But she spoke with her eyes and with the squeeze of her hand.

One day, Grandma was there getting Mom dressed, fixing her hair, and putting on her make-up. We were trying to figure out the color of the sweater Mom was wearing. Mom said, “Fuchsia.” (Only thing she said that day.)

I wanted to do death “right.” And ultimately, I realize, I did. I was there with her and she was there with me. We sat in silence or I talked to her. I feasted my eyes on her and felt my feelings. When it was time for me to leave for the airport. I leaned over and hugged her. “I love you, Mom,” I said. She said, “I love you, darlin.” Those were the last words I she spoke to me.

Some weeks after that she slipped away into sleep. And on the 16th of November, 1983, she passed into the loving arms of God. I’m grateful beyond words for Mom.

11 thoughts on “Remembering Mom”

  1. Thanks, Dave and Aunt Sandy. I’m so grateful to be able to remember her, celebrate her, share her.

    Blessings and love,
    Beth

  2. My mom passed away from cancer after my first year of seminary. The last thing she did before entering the hospital for the final weeks was to attend my ordination. She was weak and not able to sit in the congregation, so arrangements were made for her to sit on the stage, off to the side. She died 4 weeks later. I was preaching my fourth sermon in my first appointment. During the sermon I stopped talking, unable to continue for a few moments. Then I continued, finished the sermon and the service, and called my father to learn that my mother has passed away during the time I was preaching, and, I am sure, at the time I was unable to speak. I believe that she was with me in a miraculous way for those moments.

  3. Beth, I’m not sure you and i have ever met, but it seems like you are a long-time friend. Your dad was one of my best friends. We had lots of fun marveling at the miracles our Kaypro computers could do and exploring ways churches might someday use computers to minister more effectively. As you will recall, not all church leaders saw their potential. During our frequent lunches together, he shared with me his love for you and Charley and your mother. I read your Facebook entries regularly and everyone makes me feel like I’ve had a visit with your dad. This one did especially. I appreciate its sensitivity and insight. I’m proud the UMC has you to help communicate.

  4. Pam,

    Thanks for sharing about your mom. We must have been about the same age when our moms passed away. What a powerful memory and a strong connection that you had/have with her. I’m grateful to have reconnected with you through FB.

    Many blessings,
    Beth

  5. Hi, Boyce,

    Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I think we must have met. Were you in urban ministries?

    I didn’t know about your connection with my dad and I’m so glad to hear your stories. Dad and you must have been early adopters!! He introduced me to his Kaypro computer and I bought one myself and did my early editorial work on it. That’s amazing!!

    I’m so glad to be reconnected with you, especially since I’ve lost both Dad and Mom. Thank you for being Love to me.

    Beth

  6. OK, now the tears are really flowing. I loved your mom so much. The last time I spoke with her was on the phone. I had brought Mama De to OKC to the heart doctor. Mother wasn’t up to a visit, so we called Marty. We had a wonderful visit, laughing and crying. I remember Marty saying that she was lying down and the tears were running into her ears.
    In 1979, your dad and mom were at Daddy De’s funeral. (Papa De? I forget what you kids called him.) Your dad may have helped to officiate; not sure. Afterward, Marty told me that she realized at the graveside that she was standing in an ant bed. She considered that to be my father’s last joke on her.
    Love you,
    Mary Lou

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