There’s no other way to say it than to say it: Mom passed away last week.
She’d been up & down and things weren’t getting better; but we’d been there before, collectively holding our breath. And then the little bit would rally and surprise us all, over and over again.
Oldest sister sat with her last Sunday and they talked frankly about things; thankfully Mom made her own choices about being moved from the nursing home to the hospital. “No way,” she said emphatically. But the meds weren’t working as they had before. Sissy asked if she was tired and Mom said yes, yes she was. Sissy told her it was OK to rest that she would sit with her and she did. She asked about calling the others. Mom’s response was a typical Mom response, “Don’t believe that’s necessary.” Sissy did anyway and they all visited the next day. The morning after that, Mom slipped quietly away.
Even when you expect it, there’s no way to prepare for the loss of someone you love. You can’t. All you can do hold on as hard as you can and brace yourself for the waves of grief that are sure to come. Some are Tsunamis, some are ankle nippers. You try not to drown. I’m still there, some days floating, other days gasping.
I had booked flights for my nephew’s wedding at the end of July; our oldest son’s wedding is this Saturday. It was so like her to slip off before all that – not wanting to cause a fuss. It was so like her to put space between those milestones so as not to tamper anyone’s joy.
Tickets have been changed, I’ll leave sooner.
She wanted to be cremated and for us to hold a service “when it made sense.” That was also so her. We laugh about how, even now, she’s still ‘large & in charge.’ Sobs come through our stories.
We’ll have a service at the grave site then a gathering in the town hall with several hundred people followed by a lunch. There’s no church big enough!! And not having everything this week or next gives people time to come. And they are. By the droves. Not just locally but from all over Canada & the U.S. as well. Mom was well-known and loved; friends & family want the opportunity to tell their stories and pay their respects. I’ve tried to help where I can, making phone calls, sending photos, and just being part of things. But I know when I step off the plane that grief will hit me in the face like a wet towel. Drafting her obituary last night stung but I was honored to do so.
As sad as I am and as much as I’ll miss her I know she’s free. She’s with Dad on a date night, holding the winning ticket to a fast horse, enjoying a hot Rye, her purse just a-swinging. I smile knowing Frankie’s tucked up under Heaven’s kitchen table getting fatter by the second; she always called that dog “the Gentleman.” Her Mom and Dad are there, she’s with other pals and family. Farm dogs, barn kitties and ponies we’ve lost along the way are all snuggled up close to her. How can we be sad at that?
Mom and Dad with one of their winning horses – and a date night. An Emjayandthem(C) photo
No, the sadness, that’s for us. The sadness comes in knowing we have to wait to see her again. And I’m not that patient.
But mixed with the grief is the gratitude: for all who she was, all that she did, and how deeply we loved her.
I’ve lived far from home for 32+ years. She and I enjoyed many happy visits, there, here, other places, plus other trips and adventures. We had a thing: we never said “good-bye” we always said, “’till next time.” The last time I was home with her, when it came time to leave for the airport, she stood to hug me and laid her head on my chest. We stood quietly like that, her head on me, me supporting her, and her hugging me tightly. I’ll never forget that hug. Breaking apart we looked each other in the eyes and said “till next time.” She smiled and I smiled and headed out the door.
Soon my siblings and cousins, aunties and friends will gather – we’ll share her stories and we’ll sing her songs. We’ll find ourselves saying the things she would have said. We’ll sip on a Rye and we’ll reflect on the gift of a Mother happy to be one. On the gift that was her.
“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” ~ Kahlil Gibran