Had we known, had she herself known, we’d all have chosen the other alternative.
It didn’t seem to be anything other than a condition that a surgery would correct. The specialist physician determined that her body would tolerate the surgery well.
We are a family of faith. Mom knew that whichever way it went, all would be well. We prayed for her quality of life to be improved or that the Good Lord would take her home. We knew it would be well with her soul.
I remember the small apartment in a German village where Mom, Dad, my sis and I lived when I was very young. I remember a time it was very cold. We were sent to bed hungry because Mom didn’t want Sis and I to witness the abuse when Dad came home from the NCO club. Sis and I listened and knew anyway. After a long while Mom came into our room and brought us oatmeal. Then she rolled each of us up in a wool blanket, like cocoons, pulled more blankets over us and kissed us good night.
Once, when Dad was stationed overseas, we lived with his mom. Sweet Southern memories of a huge front porch complete with swing, a China berry tree in the front yard, and skittish kittens in the tool shed that we wanted so badly to cuddle. Mine and Sis’s birthdays are a day apart which, of course, meant we shared one birthday celebration. This particular year Mom worked tirelessly to make a beautifully decorated cake that looked like a basket of flowers. I can’t remember exactly why, but I felt like I let her down by not appreciating her efforts as much as I should have. I remember her being depressed and crying that day. Was it something I did?
Seymour Johnson AFB, NC was our Dad’s last active duty station. Sis and I were shocked (more like appalled) one day after school to find Mom sitting in our house trailer visiting with a friend. Mom was wearing an extremely short mini-skirt and heavy make-up and smoking cigarettes. Making a point, she was. It was the late nineteen-sixties. Sixth and seventh grade girls are naturally going to dress fashionably and probably get caught smoking cigarettes to fit in. It was funny. Mom had a way of making her mind known. Not quite so subtly or diplomatically in these latter years however.
Now who can know her mind? Strong enough to take care of her children in adversity, forbearing in a life of loneliness, opinionated and passionate about deep topics, generous to a fault, witty and clever too. Where is she?
The Good Lord didn’t give her a better quality of life and He didn’t take her home during the surgery, which at a couple of points was just beyond the curtain, the light drawing her near.
The white-headed woman, a spitting image of myself in twenty more years, confined to a hospital bed for 9 weeks now, has been working for the church today, she’s planning to cook something special from her cookbooks if the nurse will bring them to her. She tried to quiet those noisy children, and she planned to be in a special program but she missed it. She dreams all day. She’s confused when she wakes with no memory of where she is or why she’s there.
I will love the woman she is, though I don’t know her and she doesn’t know herself. I will cherish the memories and miss the woman she was. I will visit often to try to catch glimpses of my momma within the woman in that bed, and I’ll let her know she’s not been abandoned by the four children she sacrificed for.
When she is gone, I will rejoice that the Lord is good and that she is whole again– mind, body and soul.