Friday, July 19, 2013

July 20

This darn day comes every single year.  Saturday, July 20th, the day my precious mother gained her angel wings.  I've talked about her so many times in my blog postings, on facebook, and in my conversations with friends, that I've had so many people tell me that they feel like they know her.  Since I moved to Benton, 11 years ago, right after her death, not a soul in my "day to day" life actually knew her.  While I still have so many connections to those that did.....I sometimes feel lonely in my thoughts and memories.  I just love it when someone posts something about her.....nice words, a memory, anything to do with my mom.  I hang on those words.
While I know I am biased.....I know for a fact that you could search the world over for something bad to say about her....and you'd come up short.  She was a Godly woman, a wonderful mother, a loving daughter, my best friend, and the glue that held our family together.  I know I will see her again someday.  So I find the ultimate comfort in knowing that my salvation will lead me back to her.
I have a friend that has gone through the death of a parent, as recently as tonight.  She and I have talked at length about her father's final days....what to to feel.....etc.  I just don't have the words to comfort her.  Much like that day....11 years ago....that I had to let go of my mom....her earthly existence to move on to prepare a place for me in heaven.....there are no words.  It never gets easier being here without her. 
Got me to thinking about that day.  I've written about her battle.  I've shared memories and lessons she taught me.  I've shared photos and about my love for her.  But I've never written about the day she left us to go on to eternity. 
That's a toughie...
A little history:  Mom battled breast cancer for 5 years.  Diagnosed at age 44.  She immediately had a single mastectomy and chemo.  Her lymph nodes showed it to be in 3 of 9.  I don't think they had "stages" back then....or if so, I don't know what it was.  But her prognosis at the time was good.  She went over 2 years being "cancer free".  One evening, I was hosting a "circle meeting" (A ladies group at the Methodist Church we attended) at my home.  She came in, helped me with refreshments, ran the meeting and after everyone left, she informed me the cancer was back.  This time in the lung.
Surgery followed.  A very intensive surgery that was very hard on her.  Followed by more chemo.  Months and months of chemo.  I remember each visit with the doc.....our "guideline" was...."chemo?  or no more chemo?"  Never really "life or death".  Mom never complained.  In fact, she kept so much from us.  She kept a journal throughout her illness.....a very detailed journal....that for us, her children, is sometimes very hard to read.  She shielded us from her hurts.  Her fears.  Her worries.  She thought of us....her children.....first.  Always.
I am fuzzy on the exact timeline, but I know that the chemo wasn't successful for a complete cure.  The cancer ended up in her brain.  She went through months of radiation and at the time.....we were told that if that wasn't successful, she would be a candidate for the Gamma Knife surgery that was fairly new at that point in time.  Mom was just happy that she didn't have more chemo!  Those are the victories that we counted.
Mom's childhood best friend, who was also a nurse, accompanied her to her doctor visits.....for love, support, and deciphering the medical "mumbo jumbo".  To this day, if I need to feel close to mom....I think of Judy.  Sometimes call her or send her a text.  She is the person in this world who knew her better than anyone.....and loved her.  A true friend for her entire life.  She stood by mom through every major life event, and many, many small ones.  God placed Judy in our lives. 
In late May, 2001, mom called me at work and asked if we could come by the house that night, and not bring the kids.  I got a funny feeling because it was almost a CRIME to show up at her house with the grands.  lol  She loved her babies.  I got there, and Jay was there too.  She informed us that her oncologist had informed her that the radiation had failed. The cancer was in her brain stem.  The surgery was too dangerous and was no longer an option.  He basically told her to "get her affairs in order" that they had exhausted all known efforts. 
She told us she was quitting her job.  I was devastated.  Honestly, I acted a fool.  I had been in denial that this cancer would ever really take her life.  I knew it was hard on her....but never really expected this.  It had also spread into her liver.  They could treat that with chemo....and given her maybe a few more months.  But it would have been aggressive, invasive, and so severe that her quality of life would be awful.  Hence, she elected to stop treatment.  To me?  that was giving up.  I ranted and raved.  Second opinions?  Let's go to Little Rock or Memphis instead of Jonesboro?  Blah Blah Blah.  My mom.....quietly touched my hand and said "I'm tired."   I'll never forget that. 
My brother led prayer....and I left there that night like I'd just took a bullet.  Both sides of my family "upped" their annual family reunions to earlier in the year so that my mom could attend.  She insisted on a last vacation with us and took us to Branson.  I remember how quickly she began to leave us. She insisted that we pre-arrange her funeral.  Again, I was aggravated and not willing to give up.  Hospice was called in to help us......and in two shorts months, we were there....this day.  July 20, 2001.
Funny how God worked with my mom...."to plan her own death."
I was on week 1 of my 2-week vacation.  I always chose these weeks for two reasons.....As youth director, I led the youth VBS, which was a big job.  And it was also the Newport Country Club 4-ball Invitational, that was a huge weekend for golf and fellowship.  (I didn't have to take off work.  At all....I was already off.)  I spent most of that week with my mom during the day.  My mamaw and papaw were there that week, as was Judy popping in and out.  My dad, hospice, etc.  I am so grateful for that time I had with her.
On this Friday, I arrived early that morning so that my mamaw and papaw could head home for a bit to check on things.  He could not miss opening the church and making the coffee!  haha  Hospice came in and we bathed her, shaved her legs, and just sat with her a bit.  She had begun sleeping most of the time.  Her color was a bit jaundiced and her nail beds showed the slowdown of circulation.  The nurse asked me..."When are your grandparents coming back?"  I answered that most likely it would be Sunday evening.  She gently told me that I might want to get them to come on back.  I could see in her eyes that it was close. 
I called them, I called Judy, I called my brother and they all started trickling in.  Her brother was working in the area (another God thing!) and he had planned to stop in anyway.  So he was there.  My Mamaw Ethel, aunts and uncles....everyone was there in a matter of hours.  John (my husband then) got off work about 5 and headed over.  After "everyone" was there.  She opened her eyes, just before taking her last breath.
Noone had to be contacted.  Noone had to make calls to loved ones.  Noone had to travel under distress.  She waited until everyone was present.  And with her.  It wasn't until much later that I realized what a cherished gift she had given us.
Her service was standing room only.  In and out of the chapel.  500+ people.  My brother and I spoke, Leah sang.  And it was a beautiful tribute to her life.  We had no idea how we were going to get through our duties without tears.  We, as a family, prayed over her Emmaus cross, and each of us held it while giving our tributes.  No doubt, she was holding us up and God was speaking through us.   I still have the cross.  :)
I'd never seen so many flowers, cards, and people who loved her.  She was adamant that she didn't want her service at the church.  The church where she was at every time the doors opened.  Where she taught the pre-schoolers up until about 2 months before.  Where bulletin boards still held her artwork and decorations in the children's department even months later......She didn't want her service there.  I couldn't understand.  Her reason?  She never wanted us to ever have a reason not to go to church.  She didn't want our last memories of her at church, lying in a casket.  She wanted us to remember her there....lively and happy.  What a gift?  Still thinking of us....
I still have her last letter to me.  Written on hot pink stationery.  Her last words were "Continue to raise your children in the company of Christian friends."  You got it mom!  <3
Every memory of my happy times throughout my childhood include my Mom.  I only hope she knows how much I love her. 
Here are a few pics I dug up.  She was usually the one BEHIND the camera!  :)  But here are some good ones....
Have NO idea who's cat.  lol
Mom and Judy.  Blessed BFFs!  <3 

This was the day we brought Sam home from Children's!

My graduation  1989

Our last vacation to Branson at the Dixie Stampede.   

This is how I remember her....being silly!  My favorite pic ever!

Fishin with my dad!

Her engagement picture from the Newspaper, 1970  She was beautiful!

One of the last one's with my babies.  They loved "Mamaw Patsy"

My wedding, May 22, 1993  Some of the most beautiful memories with my mom. 

Senior Night, 1989

Love this....<3

July 11, 1970
 I love you mom!
Why did she have to go
So young I just don't know why
Things happen half the time
Without reason without rhyme
Lovely, sweet young woman
Daughter, wife and mother
Makes no sense to me
I just have to believe

She flew up to Heaven on the wings of angels
By the clouds and stars and passed where no one sees
And she walks with Jesus and her loved ones waiting
And I know she's smiling saying
Don't worry 'bout me

Loved ones she left behind
Just trying to survive
And understand the why
Feeling so lost inside
Anger shot straight at God
Then asking for His love
Empty with disbelief
Just hoping that maybe

She flew up to Heaven on the wings of angels
By the clouds and stars and passed where no one sees
And she walks with Jesus and her loved ones waiting
And I know she's smiling saying
Don't worry 'bout me

It's hard to say goodbye
Her picture in my mind
Will always be of times I'll cherish
And I won't cry 'cause

She flew up to Heaven on the wings of angels
By the clouds and stars and passed where no one sees
And she walks with Jesus and her loved ones waiting
And I know she's smiling saying
Don't worry 'bout me
Don't worry 'bout me
Don`t worry 'bout me

No comments:

Post a Comment