I had left the room for a few minutes when my mother died.
At the end, my father kept a vigil at her bedside, supported my two sisters and me.
On Mama's last night, my sisters went away from the hospital for a much-needed break. My father never left the chair at the side of her bed. I asked if he wanted something to eat, then hurried to the hospital cafeteria to fetch some food that I could bring back on a tray.
When I got back to her room, my father's chair was empty. He had left her bedside. I could hear the shower running in the attached bathroom. And I knew.
One look at the bed confirmed my fears. My mother was gone. I'd left the room for 15 minutes, and in that time her eyes had fluttered open one last time, then closed for good.
After he finished his shower, my father came back into the room where I sat, horribly alone. He touched my mother one last time and said, "Well, we gave it a good fight, didn't we?"
That was all.
I'd read stories over the years of how families joined together to make a beautiful occasion of the passing of a soul from this life to the next. I guess I imagined that my sisters and I would be sitting at my mother's feet, collecting last bits of wisdom and sending my mom off with words of thanks and hymns of praise. Somehow I always thought that this would be a special, sacred time, when we would all feel the presence of the Lord and weep together.
As it turned out, my mom slipped away while I was out getting sandwiches. It was not what I had imagined.
|My older boys with their grandmother, 1996|
But as it turned out, my children were 2, 6, and 8 years old when my mother died.
It's been 15 years since I got to wish my mother a happy Mother's Day. Now Mother's Day reminds me that things don't always work out as we'd planned.
My mother wasn't perfect, but she was beautiful. She was kind. She did her best to love us and care for us. I wish I could have learned more from her. I wish I could have asked her more questions. I wish I could have struggled through the years of bringing up my own children with her to love and support me.
Most of all, I wish I could just tell her thank you again.
Click here for a printable version of this poem (author unknown).
If you have a mother, thank God and thank her. If you have children of your own, thank God for the privilege.
and Weekend Bloggy Reading at Serenity Now.