Although my mom had been dealing with many health issues for over 5 years, she took an extremely quick downturn after being home just a short time from her last trip to a rehabilitation facility. She had been doing so well at the facility that I was excited when she came home. "She'll be more confident getting around with her walker," I thought. "She'll be able to get out and about a little more now." I was wrong.
I went to see her Sunday the 5th. She was having trouble speaking. "Dorothy. Where's my Dorothy?' she asked and smiled when I said, "Here I am" and leaned over to kiss her. Before I left that evening I told her that I loved her and we kissed again after she told me she loved me, too. Those were the last words I heard her speak to me.
Monday the 6th my dad called to say my mom wasn't doing well. I drove over. She was lethargic. Not moving. Not really communicating. I stretched out on the bed next to her. I held her hand. I read her the prayers she always loved me to read to her when she was in the hospital. When I went in the hallway I asked my dad if we could call our priest to perform the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. In the afternoon, Fr. Mark came and prayed over her and anointed her and led all who were there in a Litany of the Saints.
Shortly after that, her physical therapist came and, after she saw my mom, she spoke to me in the hallway. Well, first she cried. "I'm sorry. I've treated your mom for so long. I really love her." The therapist called the nurse. It was determined that her doctor should be called and hospice brought in. My mom's visiting nurse spoke to me on the phone. "This may be an odd request. Please give your mom a hug and a kiss for me. I love her." It didn't sound like an odd request to me. I knew how my mom impacted people she met.
Hospice came the morning of the 7th. We spent the day reeling from the news that she had hours to very few days to live. We held her hand. We prayed. We cried. We talked to her. We reminisced.
Wednesday the 8th was a continuation of our vigil. Sometimes a bunch of us would be around her and sometimes only one of us. I put the Chaplet of Divine Mercy on for her, because she would pray that at least once a day. At one point I asked my dad if he wanted some time alone with her. "No. I woke up at 1 last night and I talked to her until 5. We had our alone time together." One of my sisters was scrubbing the kitchen. I cleaned the bathrooms and washed the floors. My mom always was such a great cleaner and she used white vinegar and water when she cleaned the floors. When I finished, I went and took her hand. "The house is all clean. I bet you can smell the vinegar. I cleaned the floors just how you like them."
Later in the afternoon, I was talking to one of my sisters in the kitchen and we heard great belly laughs coming from the bedroom. We just HAD to find out what that was all about. We headed to the bedroom to find mom surrounded by most of my siblings and some of my nieces and nephews. They were trying to figure out why it was so funny when you saw videos of people falling and were just laughing and laughing. My mom loved music and the Alan Jackson song, "Remember When" was playing. I had used that song in my parent's 50th wedding anniversary video 12 years prior. Her breathing became more labored, but she was peaceful. Many of us were crying as her breaths slowed down, we were touching her, and I suddenly felt incredible heat spill over us. As the song was coming to a close, she stopped breathing. My nephew looked up and said, "Should I go and get Gramps?'
As my dad was coming into the room, she began to breathe again. Shallow, labored, slow breaths. My dad went up and put his hands on her face. "“It’s okay, Lovie. It’s okay to let go. Your mom is waiting for you, and your brothers. Dot is there, and Kay. They’re all waiting. It’s okay, Lovie, to let go." Someone suggested we pray. Our Father. Hail Mary. Glory Be. Our Father. Hail Mary. Glory Be. Our Father. Hail Mary. Glory Be.
I asked my sister to put on "You'll Never Walk Alone." That was my parent's wedding song. We cried. We held her. We held each other. My dad remained near her face - touching her - looking at her. Again, I felt heat pour over us. Then my mom was gone.
When my mom was in the hospital, my sisters and I would take turns spending the night with her. She told some of us how when she saw my dad's face she would feel safe. That was all she needed. Just to see his face and she knew everything was okay - she was safe. How fitting, then, that this is the man who was by her side, looking in her face, as she left this world and entered eternal life.
I've been numb since her passing. However, the reality is slowly beginning to sink in and the truth that she is no longer physically here crushes my heart. But there is hope. We have hope in the Lord. She taught me to trust in the Lord and right now I cling to what she taught me.
Wednesday, March 8, 2017. A great woman passed from this earth, but her impact is like that of a pebble that is tossed into the water. The ripples go far beyond what she could have ever imagined. I just pray that in my lifetime I can touch people even just a fraction of the way my momma did. That is a life worth living, indeed.
Memorial Video for My Momma
"But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,