Friday, April 29, 2011
On this day...
She gave me life, taught me right from wrong and how to be strong, laid my foundation, paved my path, taught me never to hold a grudge, how to hold onto my beliefs and God's hand. This is the day she died.
While others are celebrating the wedding of the century across the pond, today, I celebrate my mom. I was at her hospital bedside for five days, then I had to go home and plan her memorial, write her eulogy and relocate her husband of forty years, clean out their apartment and move on with my life. Stoically I did what had to be done.
Overwhelmed, with a heavy heart, I did my best. Her memorial service was held at her senior complex sanctuary. It was difficult to walk into her apartment to prepare the food. I turned on the TV for background noise and nearly choked on my own saliva when my mom's favorite televangelist spoke, "Today you have a tough task ahead of you. Lift your head and give it up to the Lord, and you will get through this." I know that a million viewers heard the same message, but it profoundly affected me.
My adult son, with an expectant wife and little boy, had been unemployed for six months. He had recently gotten a new job at half the salary. He wanted a new position which was opening up at work, but he didn't have enough seniority to apply. He relayed to me the message my mom had given to him the week before, "Grandma told me, 'In God's time, everything happens in God's time, not ours.'" I smiled and nodded. Mom was such a preacher. I used to kid her that I could take a spoonful of her daily sermons, but she tried to give me a shovelful each phone call.
"Okay, stop! Im a believer, Mom." We'd both laugh about it.
Her service was planned for 2:00 p.m. The chapel overflowed, and I sat in the vestibule greeting people. Someone came to get me. They said, "You're really late; it's 2:15."
I looked at my watch. It read 2:00 p.m. It had stopped at the exact moment her service was to begin, and I never replaced the battery. My daughter has that watch on display next to her grandma's photo.
As the service concluded, my son's cell phone rang. He stepped into the hall and his face drained of color. I walked to him with a questioning look. I couldn't handle any more bad news.
He said, "That was my work calling. They gave me the promotion." We rejoiced and hugged and thanked Mom and God for that gift.
Then, as I entered the elevator to take food to the luncheon, a woman exited. She looked exactly like my late grandmother, my mother's mother. I nearly dropped the casserole. I couldn't stop staring at her. That was confirmation enough to me that Mom was in the presence of other loved ones.
I spent the next entire week cleaning out her apartment. I had to return to school for a big event and a much anticipated tea party for Mother's Day. I did not know how I would make it through the day having to greet moms without breaking down, after just losing mine.
"Give me a sign to help get me through this day," I prayed silently.
Outside my classroom door I heard a mother say, "Come here and let me wipe your face. Nothing better than mama's spit to get you clean."
EXACTLY what my mom used to say and do to me. At that moment, I could smell her saliva and feel her touch. I was not the teacher, I was one of my five year olds. I made it through the day without shedding a tear.
Two months later, on the anniversary of her birthday, my step-brother called and said, "I am so sorry."
I said, "It's okay."
He said, "No, it's not. I am sorry to tell you Dad died."
This is the woman who used to be that woman's little girl, who grew up to believe that everything happens for a reason, and that there are unexplainable events and occurences that we should be open to and accept as gifts. I don't believe in coincidence.