Sunday, February 28, 2010
It's nearly a year ago that I lost my Mom. Her health in recent years had not been good – she struggled with arthritis and resulting complications from a stroke. I remember just a couple years ago when I was first learning to believe God for healing, and seeing miracles of faith in my own life, and trying to share it with my Mom. Mom found it hard though – she was saved, she loved God with all her heart, and she could believe for miracles for other people but somehow always just “hoped” for herself. She was trying to learn, but had a hard time because of how she had been taught for most of her life.
I remember typing up a number of Scriptures on God’s love, and on healing and faith, and assembling them into a little makeshift booklet for my mother and sister. I cried later when my sister told me that Mom had not only read through my little book, but she had specifically asked for it when she was in the hospital, and when I wasn’t there, my sister would read them to her. I just hadn’t noticed the booklet there when I visited her.
The last time we shared a happy visit was when she and my sister came to my home to celebrate my sister’s birthday early. Two days later, she fell and broke her shoulder. She went to the hospital and surgery for her shoulder was delayed due to other medical concerns about her condition. It was one thing after another after that – they tested her heart, and then treated an infection, then she developed pneumonia, and it was the pneumonia and her heart giving out that finally led to her passing. We were told by hospital staff that her last thoughts were of us, her children. She wanted to be here for us.
I have so many wonderful memories of my mother; I am so grateful that I had her. I remember details that surprise even me. I remember her playing with me, kissing my cheek when dressing me as a young child or kissing my wounds when I fell down from running and hurt myself. She always made me feel better. Later on, when I was a grown woman, she still embraced and comforted me when I suffered adult-style hurts and wounding. Mom always made everything seem not so bad, and I could talk to her about anything, tell her anything. She always listened and somehow always understood. And she always loved me.
One of the biggest things was my Mom singing to me from a child to young teen – she made up a “Friday song” that she sang to me when she woke me up on school mornings on Fridays… “Today is Friday, today is Friday, the best day of the week… it’s time to wake up, wake up from sleep…” My Mom and my grandmother before her had operatic voices – in their youth, both had auditioned and been selected as singers for shows – my grandmother for a famous NYC stage show, and my mother later on for a radio show. Both of them chickened out from stage fright. But my mother continued to sing around the house as she worked when I was growing up. She had a beautiful voice.
My Mom was able to stay at home and work around the house with housekeeping and raising us kids while my Dad went to work. Every day, she walked me to school and back in the morning, at lunchtime and in the afternoon to come home. Every day she cooked hot meals for lunch and dinner. Breakfast too.
She was beautiful and got dressed up particularly when we were going out as a family. She was always dressed in typical 1950’s classic style, curled light brown hair, simple dress and heels, pearls, lipstick, powder and some rouge. I remember watching her, fascinated as she put it on ever so lightly.
We didn’t have much money growing up – at times Dad worked 2 or 3 jobs. I learned later on that whenever Mom received gift money from family for her birthday or holidays, she put it aside for us so she could buy us a treasured toy or trinket, or an ice cream. I remember her playing with me and my toys as a child – somehow she always made time for me in the midst of all her housecleaning. Our home was spotless – to this day, I don’t know how she did it all. It brings a lump to my throat to think of all the work she did to arrange parties for our birthdays or special occasions. She would cook a special meal – we loved Mom’s cooking, especially her famous towering lasagna – and she would decorate the house with balloons, streamers; prepare tons of home-made food and special cakes. Dad always helped her with this too. I remember family drives up NY State to the Red Apple Rest (now gone); to picnics up in the Palisades, or down the shore to the beaches and amusement boardwalks. Always filled with fun and with love.
She and my Dad were a team. You couldn’t get something from one without the agreement of the other. My Dad also was amazing – I still remember him as well though he died just after my 16th birthday. They were a great match – both loving, both responsible and giving, both good parents, both deeply compassionate, and both deeply loved God. I have been so lucky to have had them for parents. They taught me about love and peace and acceptance. Both my parents were loving and good to everyone; they embraced everyone. It didn’t matter if your life was messy, if you had problems, what religion you were, political beliefs or the color of your skin, rich or poor – my parents laid out the red carpet for everyone and made them feel like family.
As I got older, when I was still living at home, I too became a “night owl” like my Mom. She always stayed up a little late at night to watch the news or if a good old movie came on; when I got older, I would join her at times. Sometimes she’d get hungry at midnight and quickly cook up a batch of pasta or something else, and we’d eat some at that hour while watching the movie! (I know, bad habits… I don’t do this anymore.)
It’s only in recent years that it occurred to me that Mom essentially raised me the rest of the way as a single parent. I still don’t know how she managed it all. Throughout her life, she was my Mom, my nurse, my cheerleader, my supporter, my confidante, and my best friend. Even when her health wasn’t good, she loved to come out shopping with me and my sister, and Mom and I for a long time had our own special night out for dinner every week. To her last year, she would talk with me on my cell phone every night as I drove to my home from work (I used a hands-free device). And my sister said Mom wouldn’t allow anyone else to tie up the phone at those times I was to call her.
Today is a hard day. It’s been a hard year. I know Mom is in a better place with the Lord and reunited with my Dad, but my sister and I miss her so much. I miss her more than I can possibly convey here. I still hear her voice at times in my memory – when I play with my dog that she adored, or see a beautiful sunset, or enjoy dinner at a favorite restaurant of hers, or even just remembering the scores of conversations I had with her. I still have her love with me, her wisdom, her caring but I miss her physical presence here, her physical voice. I can still hear her cheering me on for victory over my weight struggles. I’m trying to live a good life here on earth but I look forward to the day when I will see my Lord Jesus Christ, and be reunited with my Mom and Dad again.
Mom and Dad, here’s to the both of you – thank you for everything. I love you and I will never forget you or the things you taught me. Until we see each other again someday… all my love, Karen