My Mother had enjoyed a remarkably healthy life for eighty-nine years. But after her heart attack in early 2002, things were never the same again. At first, my caregiver efforts (with a homecare agency assist) worked out fine. But the following year, after she broke her leg, she wound up in a nursing home. It was there that pneumonia seriously complicated matters.
My cell rang in the eleventh hour on that fateful Tuesday morning. Her doctor’s prognosis was grim…
“Your Mother is in the active stage of dying.”
The nursing home only a mere mile away, I was seated at Mom’s bedside within fifteen minutes.
What was to become my twenty-two hour vigil had begun. For the first six hours, Mom was talkative. We professed our love, prayed, reminisced, at times, even laughed. We reveled in our joyous, carefree mood where… had I not known better… I’d have believed she’d soon be homeward bound… homeward bound…
Late that afternoon, it must’ve been Mom getting her first glimpse of her Heavenly, family reunion that prompted her final words… among them… I kid you not… her spoken with awe…
“They ALL came!”
And then… she spoke no more.
As her vital signs waned, the twilight in her window faded into nightfall and the overhead light fixture’s pale blue fluorescence now suffused her room. Throughout the night, I was experiencing what Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, author of “On Death and Dying”, describes as “The silence that goes beyond words.”
Shortly after sunrise, I had nodded off in my chair but, somehow, did manage to open my eyes just as Mom was drawing in her final breath. “Wednesday’s Child” had made Wednesday, April 16th her final day on Earth. True to her lifelong morning person traits, twenty-three minutes into the ninth hour, Mom had reached Earth’s exit signs.
After composing myself, I, too, headed for the exit signs. Now standing outdoors, I had left that nursing home scene far behind… inhaled the onrush of sweet, fresh air… joined… already in progress… a spectacular, birds chirping, spring morn awash with warm sunlight.
I sat on a bench to mourn. As I looked up to the sky… I could envision Mom still lingering at Heaven’s threshold… her loving gaze upon me. I could almost hear her say…
“My gifted son… I love you dearly and wish you continue to do well”*
I could practically feel her till-we-meet-again blown kiss touch my cheek… see her slow farewell wave as she reluctantly… oh so reluctantly… turned away… took those final steps to fade into the Heavenly mist.
On the drive home, I thought back to everything Mom had taught me throughout my lifetime. And how she had saved the very best lesson for the very last. To teach it to me, all she had needed were the three words, “They ALL came!’ Her way of assuring me that everlasting life really does exist.
My own mortality no longer seems quite so scary as it once was. I know that when my final day on Earth arrives… Mom will be there to show me the way home.