Saturday, September 27, 2014

Goodbye Sweet Mama

It's been the roughest of weeks for me as I said goodbye to my dear sweet Mama. Russ and I had just gotten back from our Jekyll Island trip and were just sitting down to relax for the evening of September 23, when Angie called to tell me Mom had passed away. It hit me hard because I'd just talked to her the day before and she'd told me she was doing well so I guess I really wasn't expecting it so soon. She died in Angie's arms which was a great comfort to me although Angie will probably be haunted by that for a little bit. Angie was an excellent caretaker and it was nice to know that if Mom was scared as she passed from this life that at least she knew that Angie was holding her and helping her up to the very end.

I had a tearful evening as I reflected on the past year. Russ was in one of his weird moods that night and kinda deserted me to grieve alone. It was not one of his finer moments. I think he figured that I knew it was coming so I shouldn't be too upset or surprised. Maybe he wanted me to be tougher but I wasn't. She was my Mom, my biggest fan, my person that had been with me from the beginning. I loved her dearly and it will take me a little while to sort through all the many phases of grief. If I could change one thing about this week, it would have been to have a more supportive husband that night. I called each of my kids and Hannah sat and cried with me on the phone. Cory and Amber were both working but sent messages through the night checking on me. Later I talked to Kara who also cried with me. It was a lonely night. All my siblings were together and had each other and I was here grieving alone.

The next day Russ and I packed our bags and drove towards Akron. We spent the night in the Cincinnati area and arrived mid-morning on Thursday at Angie's house. The church group had already begun bringing food. Angie and I cried together and she told me all the details of the night before. I told her about my night. Kara and family arrived a few hours after we did and we all had lunch at Angie's and then got dressed to go to the funeral home for our family viewing time. I have to say that I was quite impressed with the quality of care that went into fixing her up for the viewing. She looked very natural and true to her. She looked like she had just fallen asleep. They dressed her in one of her favorite pink dresses. She looked beautiful and I think all of us found comfort in seeing her that way. They had her set up in a private viewing room and allowed us as much time as we needed to be with her. We each took some time to say our goodbyes and Bobby Kara and Neal and I stood around and told Grandma/Mom stories. There was a little laughter and a lot of tears. Mom would have wanted it that way. She loved watching us joking with each other. Before we said our final goodbyes, Angie suggested that we sing to her. There was only one song that fit the occasion. I asked Russ to lead "God Be With You Til We Meet Again". It was beautiful to have the whole family standing around her casket singing and harmonizing together. It brought chills up my spine as one of the most beautiful moments of the whole week. I can't say we all made it through the song without crying but we were each strong for part of it and it was awesome.

Yesterday, (Friday) we had a graveside service for her and Don Wright officiated the event. My cousin, Tim Boyd came in from D.C. and Tina and Kim (Aunt Myrtie's girls) and Kim's husband, Donald came in from Florida. They had five chairs set up for us and we sat in birth order. As I sat and listened to the sermon, I thought about what an awesome gift that Mom had given us by living a faithful Christian life. We knew that she was now onward towards her reward that she'd spent her lifetime working towards. I felt a sense of happiness for her that day and I felt a sense of calm as I sat there knowing that her suffering was over and she was with Dad now. I could picture in my mind him standing at the gate to take her hand and say "I've been waiting for you". None of us knows what truly happens at the point of death but it's comforting for me to picture in my mind her joining my Dad and all her siblings and cousins and parents in singing praises to our God.
She was buried in the same grave as my Dad. They used to joke that he got the bottom bunk and she gets the top bunk. We stayed until they lowered her down into the grave with him. Her name was already put on the grave marker. I looked at my sister as they lowered her down and said "I guess we are now orphans". No matter how much you think you are prepared, it's always hard to lose a parent. In a sense we'd lost her the year before when the dementia kicked in but we could at least still give her a hug, say I love you and hear her say I love you right back. Although they called it alzheimer's I'm not sure that's what she truly had because she just went into a silent world. She knew each one of us until the very end. She could also identify every relative in any pictures I showed her up until my last time with her at her birthday. My siblings may have been together the night of her death while I was alone but they all described to me how hard it was to see her after she died. I, on the other hand, was blessed to have my last memory of her as a beautiful vision. She was laying in her bed as I was leaving Angie's that night and she raised her hand and waved to me and smiled. I ran into her room and hugged her and told her I was leaving. I told her I loved her and she said "I love you too hun."(honey). We waved one more time and I walked to my car crying because in my heart I knew that was my last time to see her alive. But oh what a beautiful memory to comfort me this week.

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