Mother, of course, at the age of 103, was not the first loss we experienced in our family. We lost our brother Glenn in 1968 to a kidney disease. He was 23 years old. We lost our Dad at the age of 63 to cancer in 1974. Mother had been a widow for 43 years.
I must admit, losing her was much harder than I’d imagined it would be. Up until the age of 100, I often described her as ageless. She could still pretty much do anything she put her mind to, even if she had to invent a new way of doing it. But once she hit her triple digit birthday, her failing eyesight took it’s toll and she started to slip in many ways. The next three years would see her decline to the point she was once again an infant, needing complete and total care, unable to walk, to speak, to eat. She was 100% reliant on her caregivers. Considering her age and her zero quality of life, we all knew it would be a blessing for her when God called her home. We knew she would have hated living like this and we knew where she was going so when the day came, it would be an occasion of joy for her. And it was, we were glad she was released from her broken body and reunited with Daddy and Glenn. It has truly shocked me how hard it was to lose her, how sad it was to let her go considering what her life was like. But death, no matter how welcome, is so final. There is no going in to tell her I love you one more time, no more warm soft hand to hold, no more hair to brush in hopes it felt good to her.
Our Dad was a wonderful Dad and he is missed. But he has been gone almost a half century and the purpose of grief is to ultimately heal. After this many years the loss had long been accepted. For these past forty years, mother was our rock, she was the magnet that held us together all these years. She kept our family close, including seventeen grandchildren and sixty great grandchildren. We have so much to thank her for. One of the ways I want to do that, is to record everything while it is still fresh, before time accomplish’s it’s job of softening the hurt and fading the memories. And before I get lost in a world of too busy. I owe her that! This blog is for you Momma.
Today, two weeks after our mother passed, my siblings and I gathered together at my sister’s house to write the thank you cards to all the people that donated to her memorials, sent flowers, stamps, food etc. With four pens doing the work at once, it took very little time. As we wrote, we laughed and shared stories of Mom, a few tears were shed and more than once it was said, “We should write a book.” I kept thinking about that on my way home. I know absolutely nothing about writing a book, but I do know how to do a blog.
Our mother was just three days shy of turning 103 years old on the day she went to heaven. She was born in 1914. Can you imagine the changes she witnessed as she lived 100+ years? She was such a unique person. Fun, stubborn, furiously independent, adventurous, faithful were all words used over and over to describe her. Shortly after her 100th birthday, because of failing eyesight, she finally gave in, gave up her home and moved in with my sister, Carolyn. It was extremely difficult for her to do. The downward spiral in her physical health and her mental alertness was hard to witness, but we were all comforted by the loving, tender care our sister gave her in her final years. We have all come to realize the opportunity we had to get a peak inside the world of an aging person and the trials they go through. I have three close friends who have just gone through or who are dealing with this very thing with their parents right now. It is something most of us deal with at some point in our lives. There will be no rhyme or reason to the stories I write telling of my siblings and my experiences with our aging mother, I will write them as they come to me. My hope is that by sharing our stories, we can help someone else who is going through this with their parent, assure them they are not alone, the emotions they are going through and the things they are dealing with are a common experience they share with many other people. And maybe we can help you see into the mind of their elderly loved one who loses just a little bit more every single day. And maybe we can help future care takers see the struggles, sacrifices and ultimately the huge blessings that comes with taking care of mother.