Monday, January 01, 2007

As my mother's life ebbs

As my mother slowly passes away, I have some thoughts I would like to write. I spent the day today, sitting in the nursing home (where she has been for the past 9 weeks) and contemplating her life. My Mom, has lived with us since 1987. My daughters hardly remember a day without grandma with us. She wasn't terribly kid-friendly in the current way, but she was always there. Today, my youngest daughter, asked me to leave the room while she said goodbye to her grandma, perhaps for the last time. I cried and cried as I stood in the hallway outside the door. My daughter came out of the room with red eyes, but had nothing to say. Her sister went in and said her peace. That was around 2 pm on Dec. 31st. I left at 10 pm, and my Mom, was still with us, but her labored breathing echoed in my ears. The nurses encouraged me to go home (2 miles away) and be with my family, and my young grandchildren, who had expected to have a party and fireworks. So, I went home, with a heavy heart. Before leaving, I told my mother that it was ok if she went to join my Dad and my sister Mary, and that it was ok to leave this plain of existence and be with God.

I got home to see 3 of my grandkids who where anxious to see me, and were worried about Great Grandma. Leo worried that Great Grandma was going to die. Ever the sensitive child, he worried and wondered. How do you discuss death with an 8 year old? The loss, but the hope that there is a life beyond death? After all, matter is never lost, it is merely transformed...a law of physics, of the universe and the heart of all religions.

It has been a very wierd day. I knitted, I read Barack Obama's book , the Audacity of Hope, and listened to selections my husband read from Senator Dorgan's book, Take this Job and Ship It. I stopped by my church (where I attend on a irregular basis) and although church had just let out, the priest had already left and the assistant rector told me he could not help me because he was immediately leaving on a mission. So, I was thwarted from any religious comforting, and had to leave a message at the parish office. 10 hours later, no return call from my parish. I resorted to calling the Catholic priest, where my grandchildren attend. Again, an answering machine. How interesting. When I grew up, as the daugther of an Episcopal priest, we took messages if needed and relayed them immediately to my Dad or whoever was covering for him. There were no answering machines. There was immediate assistance. Not today. There may be no sacrament of the sick for my mother, as she lays dying. No comfort for me, beyond my family and the kind (if fundamentalist) nursing staff. Who, I must say, are extremely caring, and gracious.

Looking back, my mother had a very interesting life and a very challenging life. She was very pretty, but very shy. Not very adventerous, but circumstances forced her to be so. She learned to camp, fish, drive, and raised 5 children, mostly by herself, as my Dad was TDY much of the time. So she had an inner strength that I am sure I will never know. She was tested by WWII, at which time she raised my 2 older sisters alone. Mom braved horrible living conditions, rats, snakes, blizzards and earthquakes, with a calm demeanor. She was petrified of lightning, and used to stand us girls in the door in Omaha, and have us watch the terrible beauty of lightning so we would not be afraid.

My mother also gave us another gift, her mother. Grandma Ida was the go-to person, the person who greeted us with warm home-made cookies every day after school and listened to our laments. She was the one who adored my husband made him pies, with the most tender pie crust on the planet. I will be forever grateful that my Mom and Dad saw fit to bring Grandma Ida to live with us when I was 6 . My parents may not have been perfect, but they worked darn hard to make sure that we had everything a kid could want, from the 1940's to 1970's when the last kid left home. That is a huge generational span, and they met the challenges for each one.

My mother is a typical northeasterner, she did not share her feelings, was not demonstrative, but fiercly loved her family. It is with great sadness that I see her reach the end of her 92 years. I just surely hope she does not linger too long, and will be soon reunited with my Grandma, Dad and sisters. They are calling her, and she just needs to let go.

May peace be upon her soul.


Blogger Madmomma said...

I'm so sorry you are going through this sad time. I know your mom has since passed away. She would have loved your wonderful tribute to her. I'll be thinking of you and your family.

3:24 PM  

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