Hospice, a medical service for terminally ill patients, came into the home and set up a hospital bed for my mother. As her condition worsened through the long months, the doctor put Mother on stronger dosages of pain medication, which caused her to hallucinate, and oxygen to help her breathe for what time she had left. I watched my mother all day and night for several months as other family members had to work or go to school. Several times a month, extended family would drop in with ready-made meals that I could warm up for my father and I. It was a good thing too because I didn’t know how to cook, which was something I had strongly wished I had taken the time to learn from my mother. Oh, how much I could have learned from her if only I had taken the time to help around the house. I felt so guilty for not having learned what I could have from my mother by simply taking the time to help her with chores. I always saw chores as something to be despised, and never saw it as a necessary part of life, an area in which, I would have to learn and do on my own for my own family one day. With my mother passing away a little more each day, whom would I have to learn domestic skills from? I didn’t know and was greatly saddened.
Days dragged on and all seemed to run together. Mother’s condition deteriorated and she became thin, and her skin drawn, the once vibrant light in her eyes I used to see, was now gone replaced by a haze and a long distant stare. I knew my mother would be gone soon.
There came a day my mother did not want to speak to anyone and asked to be alone so she could speak to God. I knew months for my mother to live was now down to maybe a day or two…perhaps only hours. I stayed in the living room with my mother, resting on the couch behind her bed and watched her. I knew she couldn’t see me, but I wondered if she knew I was there anyway. The living room had a different feel to it. I felt like there was a presence around my mother. I wasn’t alarmed in any way by this feeling, but comforted knowing my mother was in the best hands she could be in. As much of a good “nurse” I was to my mother, I knew I could not match the caring touch of God’s hands.
It was in the month of April of 1999, my mother went to be with God. This year, 2015, will be the sixteenth year since her passing. I am in my early thirties now, but I still remember the struggle of caring for my mother when she was ill, watching her slip away, the whole time concerned for what would happen after she was gone.
I never asked myself how I got through it all. One of my mother’s closest friends asked that question when she had come to visit shortly before Mother’s passing. “How do you this? How do you manage to take care of your mother?” I knew what my mother’s friend meant. I had my mother’s demeanor when it came to stressful or painful situations and I appeared calm to everyone and seemed to handle everything well. “I don’t know,” was my answer. But I did know. I knew it was God sustaining and holding me up through everything I had to endure. Until that question was asked, I had not thought much about how I was dealing with the whole situation. At that moment, I had full recognition that God was there, in the midst of absolutely everything that had happened.
God helped me to be calm and think clearly while caring for my mother and to be brave at times when I felt I could not. I remember feeling closeness to God after my mother died. I prayed a lot and often held conversations with God in my head, just asking so many questions. I asked, “why”, but I knew why. Mother was sick and it was her time. Besides, I had prayed once, when mother was in severe pain, crying out to me to make it stop, that God would take her home and release her from her pain. I had a hard time praying that prayer. I did not want to lose my mother, but I knew if she stayed in this world there would always be sickness, pain, and death. She would be better off in God’s hands where she would be free of any pain or worries.
After a while, I no longer asked the question why. I understood how things worked. Yes, I knew there was sickness and death, but I knew it was all because of sin. Eventually, every one of us will die and it was just my mother’s time. The more I spent in thought and writing in a journal, I realized that because both my mother and I had accepted Christ as our savior and were following Him in daily life and seeking His guidance and will, that we would be reunited. Her physical death, was and is, a temporary separation. This doesn’t mean I don’t miss my mother. I certainly do and so many times, I wish I could pick up the phone and just tell her everything, or ask her questions about cooking, sewing, or raising children. For all of these things I have had either to ask other mothers in the family or learn on my own. A great deal of it I learned on my own, which is how my mother learned many things.
Sixteen years and I still dream about my mother. I still long to speak to her, hug her, share cooking success and blunders, crafting ideas, photographs and just have a good old conversation. I often wonder what she would have thought of me and where I am in my life today; what would she think of my husband? Her granddaughter? The books I have had published? The woman I have become? I believe she would be proud of me and happy for me. Especially since I have grown up to be so much like her. The fact remains that she is not here, not on this earth, where I can do these things. I miss my mother so much, but being a Christian and reading God’s word certainly has helped me with my mother’s death as well as other deaths that have occurred since.
Stay tune for part 7 coming Tuesday!