My mom died suddenly the week after Thanskgiving. She had struggled with her health as she got older, but this still came as a complete shock. The Tuesday after Thanksgiving she had been diagnosed with pneumonia, and despite what the doctors had said -- that she was doing well, that the antibiotics should kick in, that she seemed to be on the right track -- in the middle of a quiet night her heart gave out and she passed away. I won't ever forget talking to my brother and him telling me our mom was gone. Even now there are times when it doesn't quite seem real.
I didn't talk to my mom every day, but I called her nearly every day. Some days she'd miss my call or I'd miss hers. I miss those calls -- I miss being able to pick up the phone just to talk to her, even for just a few minutes. Nearly every time I would talk to her she would ask the same thing: "How is Lincoln? How is Lillie? How is Mary Margaret? How is Jack Henry? How is Oliver, and what new things is he doing?" I miss her voice and knowing that she's always a phone call away. I know that I could go on and on about how blessed I am. I've never felt anything but unconditional love from both of my parents. My mom was a beautiful and sweet woman. She was genuine and laughed easily and rarely smiled bigger than when she saw her grandkids. I know that she knew how much I loved her, but I would give anything to tell her one more time -- to tell her how thankful I am for all that she did for me.
My brother and I both wrote things about her for her service. Here is what I wrote about her:
I've said before that I never knew how hard it was to me a mother until I became one myself, and that most of the time my mom made it look easy. She was tenderhearted and kind. Patient and caring. When I was little, not a day went by that she didn't tell me she loved me. And when I got older and would see her or talk to her, it was always the last thing she said to me.
I think my oldest memory of my mom is sitting next to her in church. I can't remember how old I was, but I was too young to pay attention to the sermon so I would sit and trace her hands. She had the most beautiful hands. I would take my little finger and go up and down her fingers and hand, over and over --hoping that one day I would have hands like that.
I also remember when I was about 5 and we were moving overseas to London. I remember sitting next to her on the big 747 before we took off and I glanced over and saw tears rolling down her cheeks. I can only imagine what she must have been feeling at the time. Our family was leaving our familiar life, family, and friends in the U.S. and going to an unfamiliar place where she didn't know anyone. She must have been afraid, but I don't ever remember that I was afraid to be moving. Why should I be afraid? My mom was right beside me.
I remember when I was in grade school my mom was always one of the volunteers for field trips and homeroom mom. She was the leader of my Brownie troop and the leader of my Y-Teens group. For my birthday she almost always made the same cake for me: an angel food cake with a bouquet of flowers in the middle. It's the same cake I make for my girls now. I also remember one time when I was in about the fifth grade and I had a complete meltdown because I didn't have anything to wear to school. Of course I actually did have something to wear – just not anything I wanted to wear. It was around Christmastime and my mom went and got one of my presents and let me open it and wear it. I still remember what that outfit looked like -- a red plaid skirt and a cream top.
I think one of my strongest memories of my mom is that she was able to sew just about anything. In middle school and high school when I had a dance to go to, she would take me to Tulsa and we would spend hours and hours going from shop to shop looking for the perfect dress. I don't ever remember that she got impatient or told me to hurry up. I have two teenage daughters so I know how hard that is. It's rarely how my shopping trips with my girls go. During all of those countless shopping trips I don't think I ever bought one dress. Instead I would find things about several dresses that I liked and ask my mom something like this: "Can you make it have these sleeves, this skirt, make the back like this, and make it pink?" And the thing is, she always could. She could combine patterns and make up her own patterns and make a dress that I had only imagined in my mind. It was magic and she had the gift of creating the most beautiful things.
I remember when I had Lincoln, my first baby. I still remember the big casserole of chicken spaghetti she brought over when I came home from the hospital and the new outfit she brought me to wear. And during those first few months with a new baby I would often call her and say, "Can you please come over? I need to take a shower." Or I would say, "Can I bring Lincoln over? I have to go to the store." And of course the answer was always yes. Never once did she say she was busy, and I imagine if she had been busy she probably canceled whatever it was she was supposed to do. She was also the only other person who could get Lincoln to go to sleep when he was a baby. You couldn't just lay him in his crib for a nap. You had to hold him a certain way and jiggle just right and you had to be standing up walking back and forth. She knew just exactly how to hold him and how to get him to go to sleep. When I moved to Edmond she would still make trips down to see us and was always happy to come just to watch the kids if I needed someone. She would show up with candy and treats and and games for the kids and she was always fun.
Not only was she a caregiver to her kids and grandkids, but she was a caregiver to anyone who needed it. A few days ago my brother said this about our mom: "She was always the happiest when she was taking care or helping other people." This is true. She was happy taking care of people, but she was the kind of person who would have done it anyway. She basically put her life on hold to take care of her parents as they aged and died, and she also took care of her grandfather when he couldn't take care of himself. I won't ever forget how tenderly she cared for her dad at home as he was suffering from brain cancer. And later when her parents and grandfather died she would sit with dying patients for their families as a part-time job.
My brother and I have both said that our mother was truly one of the sweetest people we have ever known and would do just about anything to help someone. I know that her friends would say the same thing about her.
I found a letter that my mom wrote not long ago. In it she said that her "kids and grandkids were her greatest source of joy on this earth and that she loved them more than she could say." I think one of the things that was hardest for her as she got older was that she couldn't do so many things for and with her grandkids that she wanted to. But she loved them so, so much.
My mom will be missed not only by her family, but also her friends. But even though we miss her I know that we can grieve with hope. I know that my mom trusted in the promise of salvation through Jesus and His sacrifice. We would talk from time to time about God's sovereign plan and how we can't understand it but just have to trust Him. I know that now she is with Christ, whole and healthy, and is finally able to meet her granddaughter she wasn't able to see on this earth. She has joy unimaginable, and as sad as I am that she's gone I rejoice for her. She's home. Finally home.