Remembering Mom

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Mom died on this day in 1983. I was in Divinity School that fall and wasn’t with her when she passed away. In July, she had learned that that her brain tumor was back and inoperable. I had gone for a visit in August and then again in October. Sometime in the fall she had been moved from home care to Deaconess Hospital in Oklahoma City. (Pre-hospice days.) Dad had let me know her death was coming soon, so even though her death was a shock, it wasn’t too much a shock.

I think that Grandma had wanted me to come home and care for Mom. I don’t know what Mom wanted, but I was young and “on a mission” and really didn’t want to put my education on hold to go home. In consequence, her dying journey was not one I shared. I wish I had been closer, to learn from her how you do this part of life.

The last time I visited her was in October. She was in the hospital and still conscious, but unable to speak more than a word at a time — and those words just came out of no-where when you weren’t expecting them. I remember Grandma there — dressing her, putting makeup on her, fixing her hair. Grandma was wondering out loud what color a sweater was … and mom chimed up, “Fuchsia.” It surprised both of us.

I was getting ready to go to the airport to go back to Tennessee and wanted to say something. We were alone and I think I told her how much I loved her and thanked her. I don’t really remember. But I do remember that I was getting ready to leave and said, “I love you, Mom.” And she said to me, “I love you, darlin’.” The sweetest words I ever heard.

She still travels with me. I always wondered about how “old people” could talk and think so much about those who were dead and gone. And now, I find myself thinking and talking about Mom and Dad, Grandpa and Grandma. I feel their presence. I forget they are gone and think about calling them. It’s not dementia. It’s love. It’s the presence of the Communion of Saints. They are not gone. They are here. Thanks be to God.

6 thoughts on “Remembering Mom”

  1. Tears here. It’s so hard not to be there. My Grandpa had lung cancer and had been fighting for nearly a year when he got an upper respiratory infection. All that year my Uncle had been persistently encouraging to write Grandpa a special letter (Grandma and Grandpa were living in Florida at the time). We had visited them in Florida that summer before he died. i have a picture of him with my oldest two on his lap and they were wearing his white t-shirts like night shirts (like my cousins and I had when we spent the night at their house long, long ago), and they looked like little angels sitting on his lap. When he got the infection that fall I sensed I needed to write my letter. I told him that because of him and Grandma that I’d always wanted to be a grandparent but, I admitted, that I never considered that I would need to be a parent first. He called me right away and oh, how he chuckled at that line. His voice was very hoarse because of the cancer. I told him he was a sweetheart, and he said I’m too old to be that, but his last words to me were “I love you, girl”. That next week my husband flew me down to Florida to be with him and as many of my family members who could be there because he was in the hospital on a respirator. He was sedated and didn’t open his eyes, and of course, he couldn’t talk, but he squeezed my hand so I know he knew I was there. After we all left that night knowing that Grandma would need to make the decision about whether we should keep him on the oxygen, he died in the very wee hours of the morning. I’ll never forget that. I actually slept in my Grandma’s room that night on the old rollaway bed that I’d slept on when I was little. When my Dad died though I didn’t get to say goodbye or anything because he had a massive heart attack in his garage….however, I thought about him all afternoon and didn’t understand why. Thankfully, Mom, with her early dementia was still present enough to call the squad. I understand what you mean about not knowing when your Mother would speak…or out of the blue. My Mom is like that now. I was blessed to have been with my Grandma the night before she passed this year and none of really knew she would leave us that night later but that it would be soon. I feel like we come from the same kind of family, and I understand what you say about feeling their presence. I wish you a day filled with blessings and love from those closest to you, Beth. I know you’re family is watching over you with much pride and love.

  2. and, for sharing your day with us…75 years ago, my parents at 42 and 49 brought me into life there in OK, also. As I read your note and Lynn’s note, I remember getting home from Mother’s going home day at 86 and on the table was her last letter … a keeper of course. Sitting in her ceremonial going home, I kept feeling a sense of Joy for her to be with her first three they lost in their early childhoods, leaving them childless within a four-year period. I could not weep for her loss from us still walking the face of this earth nor have I wept for her in sadness since. She is with our dad after 58 years of marriage, with her three children, and now! her last son who caught up with her in 1992. Her courage and honor and dignity and humility do walk with me daily.. Thanks to both of you for sharing such intimate expressions. Peace.

  3. You’re welcome, Beth, and thank you for sharing about your dear Mom. It helps knowing others go through similar experiences at this time in our lives, or earlier in your circumstances. Your talk of feeling your loved ones presence really resonated with me. Thanks, too, Carolyn, for sharing about your Mother. I felt that way about my Grandma because I knew she would be celebrating an amazing reunion with her loved ones who went before her. Wishing you both a blessed week. Lynn

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