My sister and I went shopping last night… again. It is after Christmas, the sales are beckoning as though we are drowning and they can save us… and Mom is gone. That is why we have been going out to eat, sometimes twice in one day, and why we’ve been shopping together, a lot. We are at loose ends; we need to be together; and we have been given our freedom.
For the last five years Mom was steadily going downhill, getting more frail, more feeble, needing more help. And Mom wanted her daughters to be the ones to catch her on the slide down. Not some strangers in a freezing nursing home (I mean they probably keep it 75; Mom’s was not one degree less than 95). Mom trained us from birth that she never wanted to go to a nursing home, her biggest fear in life, although she had many as she grew older. So when the time came for the care Mom needed, my sister and I were there. And so was my brother as often as he could be, and my older sister was the one who came and stayed continuously at the end, seeing Mom right into heaven.
But the day-to-day care for the last several years was Dar’s and mine. And, really, more hers because Darla lives in the same town as Mom did. So when Mom fell, the little box that sat on the shelf where all the photos of the smiling children and grandchildren were kept, the little box from the “I’ve-fallen-and-can’t-get-up” organization, relayed the message to Darla, and Darla came with whomever she could get from her work to pick Mom up, dust her off, and put her back to rights. Soon, we were going after work and on weekends, staying till we got Mom into bed for the evening, making sure every light was off, every ceiling fan shut down and the air conditioner turned off, and everything locked up tight.
Then she fell and cut her forehead wide open on the carpet. It was time for the outside help that came to Mom’s house during the weekday while we were at work. They would stay till 4:30, and then we stayed, again, till bedtime. Those were good times. Times we got to talk and share and eat ice cream or sherbet together. Times we learned a few things we didn’t know about our mother, about us, about family. We talked about God and Heaven. My mom loved Jesus and His Word and lived her life as best she could for His honor and glory.
One evening I noticed Mom was yellow, so we went straight to the hospital. The time had come that she didn’t need to be by herself at all anymore. So we started staying the nights then, taking turns by the day or couple of days. Get at Mom’s around 4:30 in the afternoon and stay till morning. If Darla and I wanted to do anything, we got extra sitters or worked something out with Ben, our brother. But it was rare that we got to spend time together as we had done in the past. After all, we were and are best friends. It’s tough giving up your best friend, seeing her a few minutes here and a few minutes there.
Mom died, giving up the struggle and succumbing to the arms of the angels as they whisked her away to Heaven. And set us free.
8 thoughts on “Mom’s Last Gift”
beautifully written. my mom is on her downward journey. sometimes I don’t recognize her personality as hers, but then she’ll giggle at something and she’s back. she’s living alone for now and handling things pretty well with daily visits from one of us. we are in the process of trading places on the family ladder. she is the child. I am the mother. I’m ashamed at times by my impatience with her and my selfishness. that’s when I remind myself that I’m doing the best I can, but she is too…
I agree with Jeri…beautifully written. I don’t have any regrets of what I didn’t do for mom. She had very little material things that were worth any value….her tresure was in heaven. She didn’t want for anything except for her children and grandchildren come and spend time with her….and we did. When Bren and I started staying the nights there…we would leave each other treasures – but you had to hunt for them 🙂 There were some tough times – but great memories! So let the shopping begin!!!!!! Where we going next?
Great stuff, B.
Oh, Brenda, this sooo reminds me of my days with my mom was she was going down hill with her cancer. I too took my turn at staying evenings and nights with her once a week. I wouldn’t trade those days for anything! And Jeri is right…they become the child and you become the parent. But memories I wouldn’t trade for all the money in the world. Thanks for making me cry. 🙂
Goodness sakes, Brenda. Did that ever bring back memories of Mamaw Walker and all the time that Mom, Dad, and Aunt Judy spent with her as she was failing with cancer. The last year they kept a journal everyday about what was happening. The reason they kept it was so they could track what meds she had when, and any other important information the next person coming in might need to know. Being the sentimental fool of the family, I now have the journal in my posession. I treasure it. At least once a year I set down and read it page for page. I cry…lots. Each time I read it, I have more and more respect for my parents. It was Mamaw’s wish, too…not to go to a nursing home. And she didn’t. Not one single day. My parents have not voiced their wish to me, although they have the same as Mamaw, I am sure. I am prepared to take care of my parents…the same way they took care of my Mamaw.
Barbie, we kept a journal, too, just like that. It’s so helpful to have in that round-the-clock care. Mom was very blessed in that she didn’t stay here long once she got really down and bedfast. Only a few months. She was always so busy, working, cooking, that it was hard on her to not be able to do those things anymore, but then when she couldn’t even get out of bed, well, she was ready to go home. And you are the sentimental fool of the family, the friends, the community… 🙂 I like that about you.
I am holding my heart and the tears are falling. My, you have a gift!
Just last night I spoke to a dear friend who is going through “the process” with her “passing on” Father.
I am alerted to the reality that I need to soon hop on a plane, cross the Atlantic, and spend some precious moments with my Mom. Thank you.
There is no better comfort than knowing they walk with God the very moment the last breath leaves.