Filled With Joy And Free From Pain

My mother died in April of 2003. Below I captured a summary of her last hours and my thoughts. It is very short. I wrote it a few days after her death. She lived until the age of eighty-one. Much of that life was in or on the edge of poverty. Her last twenty-five years were lived as a widow. We helped her with money and housing and furniture …. and we spent time with her. Most Sundays, holidays, and birthdays were family gatherings at her home.

Her health was good until cancer took her.

She was a good and faithful wife. My father's drinking caused a lot of stress in our house but Mama never talked about leaving him. She stayed with him until he died of a heart attack in his middle fifties.

She was a cheerful person in her last years. She listened to problems we might have but respected her children too much to tell them what they should do. She seemed happy. It felt good to be around her. She was a quiet, simple lady who loved her children and grandchildren.

For much of my adult life I lived out of state or in another city in SC. I never felt as though I gave her enough of my time. When PTSD started closing in and work got too hard for me, I moved into the condo community where she lived. During the last three years of her life I spent time with her every day, even when anxiety or depression was hounding me. I cleaned myself up, calmed myself down and went to see my mother.

I miss her.

You can't be the same person when your mother dies; part of you goes with her. If your mother has passed you know what I mean. If your mother still lives, show her …. show yourself …. how much she means to you. Just think about how your life will change when she goes. And let that guide your feelings and your actions toward her.

Even when you know the end is near you're caught completely off guard by how quickly it comes.

Here is what I wrote a few days after my mother died:

Yesterday we thought there was still a chance that she would live.
Last night she couldn't tell me if her hand held any threes.
“We'll play 'go fish' tomorrow;
Let me help you back to bed,” I said.
By morning mama's pain could not be eased by medication.
She couldn't talk.
My sister called the doctor.
An ambulance ride, a doctor's somber words, 
The unfelt sting of mortal mercy,
Then she lays still and silent where her precious life will end.
Our family gathers near her.
We bow our heads.
The preacher prays.
I sit and watch an artery in her pale neck …. until it stops moving.
I call the nurse.
She listens for a heartbeat, 
Shakes her head and tells us mama's gone.

I pray there is a God to pray to
I pray God has a home called heaven
I pray my mother .... is there with him
Filled with joy and free from pain