While it reminds us of some of the most exciting times of our lives, it also reminds us of some of the most difficult.
This morning, the posts are about the night my mom passed. Waiting on the paramedics as they worked, and pleading for prayer.
The flood of emotions as I read my own words, and look back through old posts, has been hard. – And I didn’t need the reminder, I never need an alarm or a calendar. The day quietly comes along. Most don’t know unless I say something. I do get an email here and there. This morning, one of my children sent a thoughtful text saying they loved me and were praying for me today.
It is emotional, but not in the same sharp way it was in previous years, but the pain is still very real and very much present.
My mom passed just days before Mother’s Day and was buried the day after. I did get up and get dressed for church that Sunday morning, but in the end, I just couldn’t go. Paul dressed the children and took them to church. I sat on the sofa and cried for the longest, just talking to the Lord. It had been a long, difficult period of months. I needed to just pour it all out before Him. He knows all that we are anyway, but sometimes we need those moments.
I wonder, how is it every single year, I’m still thinking the same exact thoughts? “Why did the doctor not listen to me in the days before her last chemo treatment when I was telling them she was dizzy all the time? “, “What if we had gone to another doctor, or hospital?”, “What if I had pushed harder in the earlier months to find out why she was feeling so bad?”.
I don’t know…there are a whole ton of questions and in the end, I always come back to knowing she was terminal when she was diagnosed (we are *all* terminal, she just had a more clearly defined end date), and the Lord was *so* merciful to her to allow her to pass before there was more suffering and more pain.
I know all these things, but I have to constantly remind myself when the doubt and the questions creep into my head.
So this year, I’m doing something different.
I wanted to share things you might not know about my mom. I am wanting to celebrate who she was and her life.
I’m not spending this day sad, I’m planting flowers with my little ones, and spending time with my precious husband, and tonight (the Lord willing), I will be greeted by some of the most dear people on this earth, and get sit next to my husband in church.
Here are some things you might not know about my mom-
- I never thought she was perfect, nor did I need her to be. She was my mom and she was perfectly my mom, even when I know she felt like she fell short so often.
I remain steadfast in my thankfulness for the time I had with her. I know she could have been doing so many other things but instead, she chose to spend time with me, even as an adult. Life is short. I’m glad I was wise enough to make time for her and I’m thankful she was willing to give us that time. It is the absolute best thing she could have done for us. I am absolutely grateful.
- My mama’s Bible is a testament to her faith. In the early days just after her passing, I held on to her Bible. Just like my great-grandmother’s Bible, and my grandmother’s, it reminded me of where she put her trust, it reminded me of where I should put my trust.
To know her hands held these words, flipped through these pages, and held tight to the things she read and learned, is an amazing legacy. I pray my own hands hold tight to His word and that one day, my children look back at my old Bible and feel gratitude for their own foundation.
This was her “travel Bible” that went with her everywhere. It stays in my cedar chest next to our bed.
- My mama was glamorous. She didn’t think so, but she was.
My mom was always dressed. Her make up and hair were just perfect. She always kept the most perfectly manicured, beautifully polished nails. Some of my earliest memories of my mom were of holding her hand and playing with her polished nails. In her younger years she did modeling and was a pageant queen.
- Her hands were beautiful. She didn’t think so (aren’t we all our worst critic?), but they were. Her skin was always soft. She would point to her wrinkled skin and talk about how much she hated aging.
I actually thought it was all beautiful. I had watched her hands hold babies, sew clothes, hold my grandmother and my great-grandmother’s hands when their health was failing.
Her hands were beautiful hands, that did beautiful things. I miss them so much, and that brings tears to my eyes.
My husband tells me from time to time that I have my mom’s hands. I’m not sure if he really understands how meaningful those words are to me.
- My mom was always helping someone, even strangers. So many times, I remember standing in line with her paying someone’s utility bills, her taking food to my great-grandmother, answering a crisis center phone line for anonymous callers who needed help (many that were planning to take their own life), and even the time we pulled up just after a car accident had just happened. She went up to check on the driver just in front of us, saw him choking and pulled a huge wad of gum out of his mouth! He instantly started breathing again.
- My mom could paint, draw, crochet, knit, sew, embroider (oh, do I remember the 1970’s and all that embroidered denim!), macramé, and pretty much anything else she tried to do! This is a doll my mom painted, stitched up, and clothed in a gown made by grandmother. She was my *favorite* dolly, ever.
- She grew the most beautiful roses she and my grandmother planted just outside of one of my bedroom windows.
- My mom could type over 90 words per minute! (No joke!) She also wrote most everything in shorthand. As a little girl, there was no chance to peek at Christmas lists and after she passed, it took us forever to sort through important paperwork because everything was written in shorthand!
- She was always amused by the friends I had around the world and amazed by the international things they would send me. Little did she (or I!) know I would soon collect an Australian son!! She would have laughed and they would have genuinely loved each other- she would have loved Daniel, and Daniel would have loved her.
- My mom drove with both feet, and no, she did not have a clutch. She drove with one foot on the gas and one of the brake. It used to drive my step-father nuts.
- Mama made the best fried okra on earth. She made it every single time she was going to a party or a potluck and she made it every single time we had a family gathering here. I make it now, though it is rarely as good as what she made. I miss her okra. I make it for almost every holiday, mostly so she can be part in a small way- though in reality, she is part of each of us.
- My mom did the craziest things with my kids. She had dreams of filling her basement with a huge train set for my boys. She took Courtney to Chicago once, for no particular reason. She made all of the cars out of boxes while I was in the hospital having a baby …and then there was the time she bought them all a personal roll of duct tape. Every single thing in our entire home ended up taped down, the bathroom mats, the toilet seats, the placemats at the kitchen table, everything. It took me months to find it all. I even once had to un-tape Jacob from a bunk bed.
- One of my most memorable nights with my mama, ever, was the first time we watched Alien (or it could have been Aliens, I don’t remember). We had rented it from the video rental store (I’ll explain it to those of y’all who might not remember these, lol!). We were at a particularly suspenseful part with all the lights out in the living room when my aunt came and knocked at the door. We both screamed and then laughed, as we would again and again over the years.
That was *so much* fun.
- My mom joked with Paul one of the first times they met and (jokingly) told him she expected to have 12 grandchildren. At some point when we had several, she reminded him that she was just joking. At the time of her passing, we had exactly 12 children.
I had completely forgotten about this entire thing until Paul preached my mom’s funeral service. What a sweet story to share! Everyone laughed- there can be joy, even when there is sorrow.
- My mom liked her hamburgers stacked a particular way. To this day, Courtney can tell you exactly the way my mom wanted her hamburger made. She didn’t want certain things touching other things. Being a ketchup only girl myself, it was always hilarious to me.
- The day she passed, she allowed me to make her an egg sandwich. I went to the grocery store that morning for the ingredients. I was so happy she wanted to eat. Afterward, she told me it was the absolute best egg sandwich she had ever eaten. I was so glad to do that for her. Of course, I burned her dinner than night… but, I choose not to think on that too much. 😀 Thankfully, she knew that was one of my quirks- especially with all these folks to care for everyday. She loved me anyway.
- My mom was very much an introvert and bless her heart, I was just the opposite. I would talk and talk- she would laugh and listen.
- My dad left when I was very young. It was not a good marriage and it was a horrible divorce. One of the best gifts my mom every gave me was that she never once spoke badly of my dad- seriously, not even once- not even joking about him. She would often comment about something she saw in me, or one of my children that reminded her of my dad. I know she was hurt terribly when they divorced, but she loved him, I believe until the day she passed. She would say how thankful she was that the Lord allowed her to have the best parts of him through all of us.
- My mom was 5’9 and enjoyed being one of the tallest members of our family. Even in the last year, as Joshua was now towering above her, she held firm to the thought that she was still taller. I wonder how she would feel now with all my young men so tall and handsome?! I think she would be so proud of all them!
I am grateful for the time I had with my precious mama. I continue to love her and am thankful the Lord allowed me the time I had with her. She was a good mom and I’m glad I told her so before she passed.
(This was something I wrote to her many years ago….)
Happy Birthday in heaven, Mama.
This week has been long. We faced a possible cancer diagnosis with my husband. It was an awful, horrible thing to hear and I sat in the parking lot and sobbed for several minutes after speaking with the doctor last week.
In the end, I had to remind myself that God is faithful in ALL things. ALL THINGS. There are no surprises. Nothing outside of His *LOVING* hand.
Our former pastor used to remind us, “God does not do things to us, He does things for us.”
And such is life. Full of joy. Full of hurt.
We (hopefully) learn to trust more, and love more deeply. Grief takes time. I’ve definitely learned in the last 5 years to be more patient with myself. I’ve learned that life is short- too short for dumb things. I’ve learned to be still (and I’m still working on this one).
Tonight, my soul sings the same song I sang the night she passed:
Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.