This week mom would have her 86th birthday, her 5th birthday in Heaven.

Recently I held the hand of a precious woman as she took her last breath. Her room just across the hall from where my own mother died, in hospice. Those are sacred moments and I’m grateful for the work of hospice who create space and provide such good care for the dying.

I’m so grateful for the time we had at hospice with my mom… three months of sharing memories, conversations, loving. The blog I wrote on June 13, just days before she died has become my most read post.

So I’m reposting it here, happy birthday week, mom. I miss you every day.

Conversations with Mom

  We have passed the three month mark.  Three months at Hospice, an epic journey for mom, for all of us.  The highs and lows have reminded us of that roller coaster ride… yes  there are discouragements, but also joy and love and even laughter.

  I was thinking this morning, as I couldn’t sleep… of all the lovely conversations I’ve had with mom… just this week!!  And I realize that these are gifts I might have missed… and I am grateful.

  So with her permission, I’ll share some of them with you…

  Mom sleeps a lot these days.  The other day, I was busy by her bed, texting my siblings and thought she was fast asleep.  All of a sudden she says with a start…“How are my beloved children today?”  I wondered how she even knew I was just communicating with them!  “Just fine, Mom”… I say, and then I think about that… am I really fine?  Part of me wants to answer NO!  I am tired, and I don’t want to say good-bye… we all don’t want to “lose” our mother… and yet… it is true.  We ARE fine… so very fine.  We have had this gift, the gift of a loving mom, who even in these days her first thought is of us, of her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren.  I’ve heard her whisper their names in her sleep… we are fine because we are loved, because we have each other.  And we are rich.

  The other day, she apologized to me… “I keep forgetting things.”  Honestly, we are amazed how good her memory is with blood levels in the basement.  “You remember the important stuff, Mom”, I reassured her.  She sank back into her pillow.  “I love you,”she said.  “See?… you remember the important things!” 

  She is always concerned about others… “Watch the clock”, she told me the other day… “I try not to bother the nurses during shift changes”… my mom, the nurse, so aware of others.  I assured her that if she needed help during shift change we might ask for it anyway!  But she has taught us consideration of others… and displays such a grateful attitude to all staff who walk into her room.  (And the staff at Hospice ARE wonderful).

  “I don’t want to see June!” she said frequently as the days of May closed in on us.  May passed by… we walked into June.  “I didn’t want to see June”, she said to me this week… “but then I would have missed the roses.  Thank you, God for the roses!”  Last month she read Ann Voskamps book “A Thousand Gifts”.  It is all about gratitude.  I highly recommend the read.  The book encourages us to count the gifts, to live in gratitude.  Even in dying, Mom looks for the gifts, and is grateful.

  Mom has spunk, even now… “how should we plan this day?” , she said to me this morning.   She has no strength left for any projects.  The crocheting has been put away.  The books lie beside her unopened.  “I will sleep”, she said… and then I might eat a little… Oh, I need to make some time for washing up!”  She smirks at me… the days plans are set… and I read to her from the Morning Prayers…”The night has passed, and the day lies open before us; let us pray with one heart and mind…. As we rejoice in this gift of this new day, so may the light of your presence, O God, set our hearts on fire with love for you.”

  A new day, a new gift…another conversation.  And we are grateful.

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