I started this post on Sunday evening September 21st knowing the next day would be the last time I would see my mother.
It hasn’t happened yet. Mom hasn’t left us yet. But I was awakened this morning with thoughts that I wasn’t expecting; namely, will this mean that I will be an orphan? Can you be considered an orphan at 70 years of age? I know, it seems absurd to have a thought like that at a time like this, but there it was. Mom has never not been there for me … Never! But, sometime in the next few days that will be the reality of my life and I just can’t imagine what it will be like.
I realize that we all feel that our mothers are unique, and they are. After all they are the mothers of uniquely individual human beings, but my mom is uniquely … unique. Would that we could all go this way. And what way would that be? Would it be in your own home, in your own bedroom with family coming and going? Would it be peaceful and without pain? Would it be with a balanced life ledger; owing life nothing and life owing you nothing? That’s the way it will be with Mom.
Ask yourself these questions about your own life. “Have I ever indulged in self-pity?” I have … way too often. I’ve never heard Mom express anything resembling self-pity. It just hasn’t been who she is. The closest she’s come to that is her stock answer when each evening in our daily talk I would ask how she was. Her answer was inevetably “Oh, old aurther (meaning arthritis) has been botherin’ me today.”
She was born on Christmas Eve 1917 in the Panhandle of Oklahoma, the eve of The Roaring ‘20s, but by the time she was old enough to appreciate the good times, they were gone; swallowed up by The Great Depression and The Dust Bowl. As if that wasn’t enough to dishearten a young girl about life, her father died when she was 14. And yet, I never heard Mom utter one word of self-pity about her youth, or any of her life for that matter.
The fact is that Mom has lived a charmed life. I don’t mean that she has had fortune and fame, not in the least, but that her life has been charmed by graciousness and sufficiency. I’ve known many women that have married men who provided an abundant life for them who seemed to think that it was because their uniqueness dictated it. That Dad provided an abundant life for himself and Mom was to Mom a blessing, not a debt owed to her because of her uniqueness, and that has been a part of her unique, uniqueness.
Mom has never kept a blessing to herself; at least not that I’m aware of. Every one of her blessings has been shared with others. Her home was often more of a guest residence than anything. Anyone who has ever known Mom has known that if they needed a place to rest their head on their journey it was there behind that Dutch door. And that brings me to another facet of her unique, uniqueness.
Every home that she and Dad built had one pre-requisite feature. The front door was a “Dutch Door” and for most of my life the top half of that door was open, meaning, “Welcome!” That feature save her life once.
I have known people who were, what I would call generous to a fault, but not Mom. She was very generous, but not to a fault. I cannot remember a time when she shared with someone she felt was not genuinely in need. Her personal blessings were far too precious to her to share indiscriminately with those who created their own misery.
September 24, 2014
So, today Mom left us. I don’t feel like an orphan yet; not yet. I was able to say goodbye to her on this past Monday, the 22nd. In fact both of us said goodbye. The night before I left I sensed the importance of her son saying goodbye to her and I’m so glad I did. In some ways her response to seeing her oldest son sit down next to her bed, was painful. She was more loving and alert to his presence than she was to mine. I can’t tell you why he cried as he did in her presence, but the fact is that he was totally overcome by grief. I, on the other hand, was far more reserved in my reaction, a fact that I find both disturbing and curious.
Frankly, I’m fearful of the gathering of the family and friends for her farewell. My brother has made his absolute hatred of me quite clear. As a result, in the interest of avoiding a scene, I have made the decision for George to attend the funeral and subsequent gathering … but that’s it. It leaves me with a lump of resentment. If our brother chooses to take issue with that he will have to deal with the fallout. It saddens me that on this occasion there is such an unpleasant undercurrent and I’m certain that from Mom’s current view that she is not happy about it.
There were occasions when we were growing up when brother and George were fighting that Mom would set us down at the kitchen table facing each other and make us sit there until we were laughing at each other’s antics. I would love to have that happen now … with me. Of course it’s not going to happen and that is so sad.
At this moment my head is filled with scenes from numerous movies where one half of a couple has crossed over previously and then, at last, the remaining lover makes the final journey. The scene is one of the couple in their youthful bodies greeting each other in a scenario that is meant to convey what heaven might be like. I can see Dad, the Long Tall Texan, I know from the pictures of him in his youth. He’s has his signature Stetson like the ones LBJ wore, a plaid shirt and his beloved bolo tie. His hat is in his left hand as he reaches out with his right hand to take the hand of his bride, our mom.
She is dressed just as she was in the picture taken of her at the time of their wedding. It’s a dress I don’t know how to describe because I’ve never had one like it, though I think Donna Reed was usually dressed in one in her television shows of a similar era. She takes Dad’s outstretched hand and they turn and walk slowly off into eternity … Together again forever at last.
Goodbye my Dear Mom and Dad …