Sunday, May 14, 2006
Note to my sister: Don't read this or get your hankie ready, preferably the gauzy embroidered hankies Mom saved from our childhood.
For many years, I didn't realize how blessed I was by my mother, but I came to my senses long before she died. When Aunt Katherine remarked how much my sister and I reminded her of our mother, I know I beamed on the outside because I was beaming inside...except a part of me could not accept it. I'm more than satisfied if I am just a dim reflection of my mother.
My siblings and I were not the only ones to be blessed by her. At her memorial, a 60 year old man fondly recalled the mission lessons she gave when he was a teenager. So many people recalled silent kindnesses. The neighbor lady related the joy of finding a kindred spirit.
I was particularly moved by a friend's comments, moved to the point of trying to emulate Mom even more. My friend did not know my mother, but due to the long line of people waiting to pay their respects, she had time to study the posters my nieces created of their grandmother's life. With tears in her eyes, my friend told me how lucky I was to have an active mother who embraced life, who was filled with joy, with fun and with love. It made me realize how many people do not have that type of mother and how much I want to be that mother to my sons.
At the family interment of Mom's and Dad's ashes, all 30+ of us shared a memory of each of them and then sprinkled a shovel of dirt over their ashes. I talked about how Mom was "up for anything." She went rappelling in her 70s with her granddaughters. She traveled overseas for the first time in her mid-70s and returned again and again, even taking a barge down the Rhine River. She went kayaking for the first time on Buffalo River with her children and grandchildren in her late 70s. She was 81 when she went tubing behind my brother's speedboat. When she was 80 years old, my sister and I tried to talk her out of a long hike in the Ozark Mountains because of her bad knees. She would have none of that, outhiking all of us but her ten year old great-grandson, who ran up and down the Ozark Mountains along the trail.
Her final illness came suddenly. After flu symptoms for two days, she was hospitalized for rehydration. The next morning, the "flu", belatedly diagnosed as sterile site pneumonia in her bloodstream, attacked her heart valves. When I got to her bedside that morning, held her hand and kissed her forehead, she squeezed my hand with the most beatific smile and her eyes filled with joy at seeing me. That was her final blessing on me. Pure love. Pure joy. Pure mother.
I miss her so much. I've been feeling like a motherless child this spring. Oh, I know she has shaken the mortal coils of this fallen world. I can envision her feasting at the Lord's table, but I long once more to serve her a humble meal at my table.