Our Mom

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Our mom turned 90 in September and we felt fortunate that up until that time she was still living at home, able to go out for the occasional adventure. During the last week of August we went to the county fair and a family birthday party; a true gift for all of us. Now, at the end of September, everything is different. And it causes me to look back, once again.

Growing up, we were a family with troubles and joys, struggles and celebrations. We had times of riding the wave, and times when we were tossed in its surf. But thru it all, or because of it all, we formed a close, tight-knit bond, one to the other. While we learned from dad about being our own person, mom taught us that together we formed a picture of completeness — a one for all, all for one philosophy of sorts.

It is from this whole family picture, ever growing and changing as each new member is added, that the shadow of dad is still seen. Now, due to dementia, there is a forming of the space my mom leaves; a space deeply filled with love and memories. And it is from this place that my sisters and I, our husbands, and our children, keep the memories warm, the home fires still burning, the light still on by how much we love our family, with all its flaws, unusualness, bumps, warts, bruises, and stumbles.

I know from experience that, in time, our little 3-ring circus will re-configure around the spaces, and bond together in a much different way, forming a new picture. And that, eventually, this new family picture will take hold, tying our hearts together, re-shaping our lives.

But, for now, we are caught in the in-between of dementia. I wish, more than anything, our mom could come back to us the way she was. I still catch myself going to the phone to call her, expecting to talk the way we used to. But, there is a truth here to accept now, and only prayer can reach it. And, we know that there is a much better place waiting for her.

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One Angel, You: In Memory of You

Image     Dec. 29, 2009 our dad passed away.  And our world shifted.  He had been sick for a long time with leukemia, diabetes, kidney failure, and congestive heart failure and, over a period of two years, he was in and out of the hospital.

But the week of Christmas, 2009, I found out about time: there is never enough.  There is never enough time to say “goodbye”, there is never enough time to stand together again on an old wooden dock, fishing.  There is never enough time for one last cup of coffee in your hospital room, watching the sun come up over the mountains in the distance — there is never enough time.

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And that Christmas Eve, for one last moment, I held your hand, weak and old.   I remember when your hands were so strong — and that memory catches my breath, in a sob.  I press your hand against my cheek – I squeeze, I think you squeeze back.   And we know that is the final goodbye. We didn’t have to say a word.

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When two days later, Jayne calls to say you have been sleeping all day — so unlike you, your moving, active self could never sit still unless you were holding a fishing rod — I can’t go to see you. I know I should. But I can’t see you like that. We said our goodbye; and I want to remember you, in that moment, forever.

And that is what we all thought: you were gone forever. Until the signs came. The rainbows, the song, the pennies found in strange and odd places — one balancing on its end — random, but we noticed. And we took these signs for what we needed: that you saw us, and you were on your way to heaven, just stopping by to say “hello”.

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And now we know — we will see you again.

 

 

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