It’s Wednesday so let’s wrap up our story.
Here’s where we left off.
“Okay, Monday I’m calling Dr. Gibson. I need to know how you’re doing and what you’re being treated for,” I told her.
Sheepishly, she responded, “Whatever…”
Mother’s Day morning. In the early hours, I was reading my daily devotional which focused on Titus 2:3-5 … tell the older women … to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, chaste, good managers of the household, kind, being submissive to their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited…
The scope of what the younger women need to learn cannot be communicated in words. It is action. It is an older woman who bakes beautifully, whose garden is spectacular. It is the kind of thing that faithful living communicates. It encourages younger women more than you can know – it gives hope towards the future, it gives ideas and inspiration for what kind of women we want to be. But it gives it in a way that is discreet, that encourages without pressuring. It gives it in a way that is not an invitation to complain about your life or fuss about your children. It is encouragement in the best way, encouragement by example…
As I was reading, I heard Mom call out, “Samantha Samantha!” so I immediately stopped and went across the hall to her room.
“What’s wrong, Mom?”
“I just wanted to know you were still here. I don’t want to be alone. Can you sit with me?”
“Of course,” I said, reaching over to give her a kiss on the cheek with a “Happy Mother’s Day.”
“Oh, Happy Mother’s Day to you dear.”
“Do you want some tea? Do you want me to make you some breakfast?”
“No, I just want you to sit with me.”
“Okay,” I responded, “but I am going to take your vitals. You look awfully pale.”
Her BP was still low and I could feel a lower temperature. I’ve seen the signs before. This wasn’t going to be a long journey.
We sat there, me holding her hand for minutes, although it felt like hours. She would drift in and out of sleep.
Suddenly, out of the blue, she patted my hand and said, “Sam, I’m sorry if I ever hurt you. I love you. I always have loved you.”
“Shh,” I said. “I know you’ve always loved me and I’ve always loved you.”
“But we never told each other, did we?” she said. “I’m sorry for that.”
“I am too,” I answered.
“Why not?” she asked. “Why weren’t we close? Why didn’t we ever talk about it before?”
I crinkled my nose and simply responded, “I don’t know.”
Mom, despite shallow breaths, said she wanted to make me strong and independent. “You had your Dad wrapped around your little finger and I had to be the mean Mom. I had to be the one to say no.”
“You weren’t mean,” I interjected. “But you could be hurtful, almost like my feelings didn’t matter. That’s what bothered me the most. I mean, I could get straight A’s and you would focus on my lone B. I didn’t think I was ever good enough for you,” I added, my eyes welling up. “But I always loved and respected you.”
“I’m sorry sweetheart,” she said. “I just tried to make you strong and independent.” She tried to smile, adding, “I think I was successful … maybe too successful. You’re the strongest, most independent woman I know. And that scared me.”
“I’m not that strong,” I said. “I’m not independent.”
“Well, I’m proud of you. You’re a survivor. That’s all a Mom could ask for.”
She drifted off again, so I got dressed, made some tea and warmed up a couple of muffins. I also called Dr. Gibson just to let him know what was going on. When he called back, all he could say was, “Keep her comfortable.”
As I walked back into her room, she half opened her eyes. She wanted no part of the muffin, but did drink some tea through a straw.
“I’m so tired,” she said. “But I do want you to just sit with me and talk to me. I feel we missed that over the years.”
“Of course. What do you want to talk about? Anything special?”
“How did you get through everything?”
“What do you mean?”
“Putting up with me growing up. Burying …” she said, trying to remember “… your husband … uh”
“Yes, Chad. I should have been there for you.”
“Mom, there was nothing you or anyone could do. I had to work through it myself. Taking care of the kids was a big help.”
“How are the kids doing? JR looks just like his Dad and Kate looks just like you.”
“They’re doing okay. You just saw them a couple of weeks ago at Dad’s funeral.”
“I know, but I didn’t really spend much time with them.”
“Well, JR always dreamed of following in his Dad’s footsteps, joined the Air Force ROTC program at Bowling Green and is now a commissioned officer. Unlike his father, though, he is a pilot,” I reported. “The deployments cost him his first marriage, but he and Heather had two girls, Rachel and Nancy. He’s doing more teaching than flying now and has remarried Bekah. They have a son, Chad III, and a daughter, Diana.
“Kate followed my nursing footsteps, although she was harder to get out of my nest. She went to Wright State but stayed at home until she got married to a fine young man, Al Macias, at age 26 and moved to Toledo. She, too, has two children, a boy John and a girl Kathi.”
Mom interrupted me. “Did Kate give you trouble like you gave me?”
I laughed. “No. She wasn’t as flirty as I was. But I was always a good girl. I may have pushed the envelope, but I set boundaries I wouldn’t cross. That’s because of you, Mom.”
I continued to tell her Kate was and is the “fixer.” “She spent a lot of time trying to take care of me. She would try to set me up with dates with her friend’s fathers or uncles.”
“What about you?” Mom asked. “Why didn’t you ever get remarried? Knowing how outgoing you were growing up, I thought for sure you would find someone else.”
“Never was really interested,” I said. “Chad and I had something so special, I knew it could never be replicated. I mean, I went out on a couple of dates, but it just wasn’t the same.”
“What about your neighbor?” she asked.
“George? He’s been just a very special friend. He lost his wife a couple months before Chad died. JR and his son Georgie were best friends, so George made sure he included JR in camping, Scouting and other activities. He helped me around the house and we often would accompany each other to events … not as dates, though. We’ve been special friends … wow … for 24 years.”
“What about Ber … Bet … Betsy?” Mom asked.
“You mean Bernie?”
“Yeah,” she said. “I was never sure whether she was a bad influence on you or you were a bad influence on her.”
“Bernie and I have been tight for ever!” She’s doing okay. Still lives here in Jersey and operate a hair salon. We talk all the time.” In fact we’ll probably get together before I head back.”
“Thank you,” Mom said. “This was nice. Just talking with you. Just having you here with me.”
“Yes, it was nice. Why don’t you rest a little. And remember, I love you.”
“Okay,” Mom said. “I love you, too, and I’m so proud of the woman you’ve become.”
That was out last conversation. Shortly after noon, I felt Mom’s hand go limp in mine and I knew. It was over. I lifted her up and held her in my arms. She had a smile on her face, which put a smile on my crying face. She was home … and we both were at peace.
There you go. That’s our story, for better or worse.
I would like to hear your thoughts about the exercise and the outcome. You can post them on the blog or you can e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the story. I’ve had fun.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: An ounce of determination is worth far more than a ton of procrastination.