I am saddened to report that my dear mother passed away on Sunday, September 6, 2015. She was just 3 months away from her 80th birthday. My sister, Rebecca, gave her a surprise birthday party for her 79th birthday.
Mother was challenged with many difficult conditions for many years, but she remained a strong-willed fighter to the very end, when her body simply had no strength remaining.
She fell extremely ill with congestive heart failure and kidney failure at the end of July. She was not to return home and spent the next 5 weeks in either Sacred Heart Hospital or The Haven of Our Lady of Peace, a rehab and extended care facility in Pensacola. Her final 3 days were spent at Covenant inpatient hospice. At her insistence, I sat with her, holding her hand as she peacefully left this earth that Sunday afternoon.
We will always have the precious memory of her rallying to visit with Becca, Steve, and me the Wednesday before her life came to an end. When she heard Steve was coming to see her that day, she was so thrilled; she began to speak again and insisted on having a shower, getting dressed, and getting her hair done. “Steve is coming to see me!” She was incredibly present and lucid, rather energetic and astonishingly talkative (even played a joke on Becca), and very, very happy – in fact, I would say she was thrilled. She was back with us, almost like her old self, if only for that morning and afternoon which completely exhausted her. The next day she went into hospice care.
Her conversation with Steve and me just before lunch on Wednesday, while holding our hands, was the greatest gift my mother could have ever given us. We were both astonished and more deeply touched than any words can ever express. The conversation was completely unexpected and from her heart to ours – no more unfinished business.
She could manage to speak and be understood a few times at hospice. At one point she clearly told me, “I don’t think I should go yet. I think I’m getting better. I feel so much better–much, much better.” Thankfully, the powerful drugs had taken away her suffering. She would often repeat the names of the family and pets, “Steve, Becca, Tim, Annie…” I suspect she was trying to hold close those things that were dearest to her.
On Saturday afternoon, out of the blue (no pun intended), she spoke her last words, “Becca’s favorite color”
I replied, “What is Becca’s favorite color, mother? I forget.”
She said confidently, “Green.”
“Oh, that’s right. I remember that now that you say it. You know my favorite color was blue for many, many years, but now I think my favorite color is green, too–like Becca. For as long as I can remember, your favorite color was blue, but in the last few years I suspect you changed it to pink or mauve.” The fleeting moment of presence was gone.
Because she said so many of her friends preceded her in death she only wanted a graveside service which was attended by almost 30 people. She would have been thrilled that her retired pastor conducted that service. She hoped for that–even asked him when he unexpectedly came to visit her in the hospital. The same minister had also conducted my father’s funeral service almost 18 years ago.
I thought I was prepared for this day, but I can not describe the depth of my sadness or the extent to which I will always miss her.
November 23, 1935 – September 6, 2015 (79 years old)
Rest in Peace and in Love, my dear mother.