Category Archives: Death

The List

It seemed like it had only been a few seconds earlier when the semitrailer truck jack-knifed across the icy highway, careening headlong into the Honda that Deborah had been driving. She didn’t even have time to scream.

Tunnel Light ImageOne of the highway patrolmen said: “Poor woman, she never had a chance.”

“It’s a shame,” agreed his partner.

Deborah watched as her body was transferred into an ambulance. She observed while hovering high above the ground. Then she realized that she was dead. At first she thought it was just a horrible nightmare that she’d awaken screaming from at any moment, but that moment never came.

Suddenly she was picked up, whisked away, and the next thing she knew she was flying through what appeared to be a long, dark, pitch black tunnel. She felt like she was being hurled forward at a very high speed which was so fast that she felt short of breath. This in itself seemed odd considering the fact that she was dead. Dead people shouldn’t be experiencing shortness of breath.

Gradually she slowed down. Then she noticed shadowy figures lined up on both sides of the tunnel. They were shrouded in the mists rising up from the bottom of the tunnel, but she was still able to recognize some of their faces. She saw her cousin Margaret who’d died of ovarian cancer five years ago; her Uncle Ned who’d been killed in the Vietnam War; her best friend Jennifer who’d been killed in an automobile accident; and her Grandma Jennings who’d died of a heart attack. They were all there, her dead relatives and friends, smiling at her, waving at her, and reaching out to her. But she couldn’t touch them.

Then a dim light appeared in front of her. As she came closer to the light, it became brighter and radiated an amazing warmth. It poured out a feeling of welcome. And there was something stronger. What was it? Yes – love. Unconditional love. She desperately wanted to go further toward the light. She knew that was where she was supposed to go. But it seemed she was only going slower.

“I want to go faster!” she pleaded.

“Not yet,” answered a voice.

She turned around to see who had spoken, but no one was there. There was only silence.

“What do you mean?”

The voice spoke.

“You must wait.”


“First we must check to see if you are on the list.”

“What list?”


A very long time passed before the voice spoke again, and now it spoke like a patient teacher would speak when giving a student an answer that the teacher feels the student should already know.

“The list to get in.”

Deborah was shocked. The list to get in? She’d never thought that this was a possibility. She’d always assumed that when she died, she’d pass with ease into that realm where her loved ones were waiting for her.

Her mind began to reel with the reality of the situation. What if she wasn’t on the list? What if she couldn’t be with the people who loved her? How was she going to face such an awful fate by herself?

“How does a person get on the list?”

More time passed before the voice answered, as if trying to decide whether or not to tell her.

Finally the answer came.

“Good deeds.”

Good deeds? Was that all? That seemed so simple. Deborah was certain she had performed good deeds at some point in her life. She began to frantically search her memory, but couldn’t remember a single good deed.

Involuntarily, she began to move slowly backwards through the tunnel.

“No! Please, don’t take me away!” she pleaded.

“We’re sorry, but we don’t see your name on the list,” the voice boomed.

Deborah felt total despair.

Then she heard a bark and the panting of a dog beside her.

“Molly! Hi girl!” Deborah called, relieved at the friendly sound.

Molly was Deborah’s golden retriever who had died nine years before. Deborah had found Molly half-dead by the side of the road when she was puppy. She’d brought her home, nursed her back to health, and became her beloved mistress. Deborah had saved Molly’s life. And now Molly was going to save Deborah.

“Wait! My good deed! Molly’s my good deed!” Deborah cried out.

The voice boomed once more, and this time it sounded as though there were a smile within the voice.

“You are correct. You are on the list. Welcome home!”

The Saddest Moment

Written for:


It was Labor Day weekend when I lost my mother forever. It came suddenly and without warning. It was the saddest moment of my life.

My husband and I had stayed home just to relax over the long weekend. I was thinking about what I would prepare for supper that night when all of a sudden an idea came to me. I was going to call Mom and ask her over for supper. I hardly ever did this, but for some reason, I just knew I had to see my mother that day. I remember making the telephone call later that afternoon.

When Mom answered the phone, she sounded a little irritated, as though she really did not feel like talking on the telephone at that point in time.

“Hi, Mom. What are you doing?”

“I’m sitting here having a cup of coffee and watching some T.V., except there’s not much on today.”

“Say, Mom, I’m making your favorite meal for supper tonight — pork chops. Why don’t you come on over and have supper with me and Mike, and you can see your grandson while you’re here. You haven’t seen him for a while. We’ll eat early so when you go home it won’t be dark, because I know how you hate to drive in the dark.”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Oh, come on, Mom. What else do you have to do? You can come over here and relax, please?”

“No, not today, I’m really tired today, and all I want to do is lay on the couch and watch T.V.”

“But it’s your favorite meal, Mom.”

“I know, it sounds good, but I really don’t feel like coming over. Maybe next time.”

“Aw, okay, okay. But the next time you better come.”

“Yah, yah, yah, next time,” she promised.

I hung up the receiver with a feeling of disappointment. I just could not get rid of the feeling that I needed to see her that day.

Swallowing my disappointment, I began to prepare our supper. As we were eating, we enjoyed each other’s company, and watched our three-year-old son Joey’s antics while he sat in his high chair.

After dinner, I was washing the dishes, thinking about my mom. She had sounded exhausted when I had spoken with her before. Granted, she was growing older, but I didn’t think I had ever heard her sound so tired. Besides that, she sounded . . . old. That was it — she sounded old and worn-out. I knew there must have been times when my mom grew lonely. All seven of us children were now grown and living our own lives. Our father had died fifteen years earlier, so my mom was basically all alone. I knew that loneliness could take quite a toll on a person, and I was sure that my mom was no exception.

As I was washing a glass bowl, thinking about my mom, the bowl broke and I felt intense pain in my left thumb. Just great; I’ve sliced my thumb open, I thought, as the blood came gushing out from the wound.

“Michael! I think we have to go the Emergency Room,” I called to him from the kitchen.

“Now what did you do?” He walked into the kitchen, looked at my bleeding thumb, and shook his head.

“You always get yourself into trouble, don’t you?”

“Ha, ha. Let’s go. I think I’m going to need stitches.”

So we dressed Joey and were on the way to the local emergency room.

When we arrived, we were lucky in that there weren’t any people waiting, so they took me right away. Being a nurse, I thought I needed a surgeon, because my thumb was numb, but the ER physician insisted that all I needed were a few stitches.

We were back home within a couple of hours. Joey was already sleeping by the time we came back. I remember the time was 9:30 when I put him in his crib.

For some reason, I decided to call my mother to tell her about my accident. My thumb was throbbing, and I needed some comfort from my mother. When she answered the phone, she sounded even more tired than earlier. We only spoke for a few minutes because she said she was going to go to bed. After we hung up, I was glad I had called her. For some reason, I was really glad.

Twenty minutes later I decided I’d had enough for one day.

“I’m going to bed, dear. My thumb is really throbbing, so I think I’ll take one of the pain pills the doctor gave me and hopefully that will help me to sleep.”

As I was lying in bed, I thought about the day’s events. My thumb was pounding by now and I was having a difficult time falling asleep. After twenty minutes or so I began to drift off to sleep when I heard the telephone ring. My husband came into our bedroom.

“Cindy. It’s your sister, Janice.”

“Oh, what does she want? I don’t really feel like talking.”

“I don’t know, but she’s crying.”

Janice, who was my youngest sister, was about three months pregnant at this time. She had already suffered one miscarriage, and I was praying and hoping that this call did not mean she was having another miscarriage. I hurried to the phone in the kitchen.

“Jan, what’s the matter?”

“It’s Mom.” She could barely get the words out, she was crying so hard.

“Talk slower, honey, I can’t understand you.”

“It’s Mom. She can’t breathe. They’re taking her to the hospital by ambulance. I can’t get hold of anyone else. Will you come?”

“Of course, we’ll be right there.”

She told me the name of the hospital and hung up.

“It’s my mother,” I said to Mike as he looked at me questioningly. “She can’t breathe and they’re taking her by ambulance to the hospital. We have to go now.”

I quickly made a juice bottle for Joey and stuffed some diapers into the diaper bag, along with some crackers, just in case. Joey began crying as I lifted him out of his crib and put his jacket on.

“It’s okay, Buddy.  We’re going to go bye-bye.”

He stopped crying when he heard that word. He loved to go for a ride in the car.

Soon we were on the way to the hospital. I was worried sick about my mother. I had only spoken with her thirty minutes before and besides sounding tired, she had sounded fine, but I had a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach.

When we arrived at the hospital, we were shown to a family waiting room. Inside were Janice and her husband, Tom, my sister Diane (her husband, John had stayed at home with their girls), along with my Aunt Gert, my mother’s sister, and her husband, my Uncle Kris.

No sooner did I ask the question, “What does the doctor say?” when the doctor came into the waiting room.

“Your mother has had a massive heart attack, which is why she couldn’t breathe when the paramedics arrived. She is in critical condition. Her blood is not perfusing through her body. We’ve been working on her, but so far, it doesn’t look good.”

As soon as the doctor told us that the blood was not perfusing through her body, I knew it was not good. All we could do now was wait.

“Where are Terri, Margie, Becky, and Len?” (these are the rest of my siblings) I asked Diane. Janice was crying and being comforted by her husband, so I knew it was not the right time to ask her any questions.

“We can’t find them. Margie and her family went to Valley Fair today and aren’t home yet, Terri is up at the cabin and doesn’t answer the phone, and Len doesn’t answer, and neither does Becky. We’ll just have to keep trying, I guess.”

“I don’t feel very well,” I said. Perhaps it was the pain pills taking effect on my stomach. “I have to go to the bathroom. I’ll be right back,” I said as I left the waiting room. I hurried to the bathroom and felt like I was going to be sick. When I reached it, I was sick and felt better afterwards. Then I hurried back to the waiting room.

When I opened the door to the waiting room, the doctor had returned. Everyone looked at me, and as I closed the door, my sister, Diane said, “Mom died, Cindy.”

I gasped and then immediately went over to my sister Diane and embraced her. We began to cry in each other’s arms for our mother, who we would never spend time with again.

Then I asked the doctor for a priest, and also if we could see our mother.

Ten minutes later we were led into the room where our mother lie. I must say that she did look at peace. I touched her hair and I felt as though her spirit were still in the room. I know she was still there, watching us and loving us.

After several attempts, we finally did reach our missing sisters and brother. When we were all gathered we went in to see our mother again. I felt as though things were different this time. I did not feel her spirit with us any longer. I knew then she had gone to Heaven to be with the God whom she loved and to be with our father and her other relatives.

The wake for her was wonderful. The room was so crowded you could hardly move. It just showed how much my mother was loved by everyone.

At the funeral, we sang her favorite songs: “Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace” and “On Eagle’s Wings.” I know she would have liked that. I didn’t cry at the funeral. I guess I just couldn’t cry anymore. The tears were all gone. Besides, I knew she was happy at that point because she was in heaven with her God, and so I was happy for her. I know it sounds strange to say that, but I was happy.

My mother had lived a hard life. She was poor until the day she died. She worked hard to raise seven children and took care of an invalid husband. My mother deserved to rest, and I rejoiced when she finally could. My mother went to be with our Lord on August 31, 1986.

I still think about her every single day. I think about how she would have loved to see all of her grandchildren. She never did get the chance to meet my two daughters, and I know she would have loved them and they would have simply adored her. She never had the chance to see her grandchildren grow up to be the amazing adults that they are. She wasn’t there for my daughter’s wedding. She wasn’t there to see all three of our children graduate from college. She’s never heard my daughter play her cello and she wasn’t there to tell my daughter how proud she is that she’s going on to pursue her master’s degree in music performance. She never had the chance to meet any of her great-grandchildren.

When I was very ill a few years back, there were many times I longed for her presence.  Then I wished that I could call her and talk to her about it and hear her words of comfort and encouragement. And when I’ve had happiness and joy fill my life, I have often wished that I could share it with my mother.

My mother was the single-most powerful presence in my life. She nurtured me, taught me, and loved me through all the ups and downs of life. I miss her every single day. But I take comfort in the fact that I will see her again one day and that day will be filled with joy.


QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “No language can express the power, and beauty, and heroism, and majesty of a mother’s love. It shrinks not where man cowers, and grows stronger where man faints, and over wastes of worldly fortunes sends the radiance of its quenchless fidelity like a star.” ~ Edwin Hubbell Chapin


Dearest Mother-in-Law


Last month was the anniversary of my mother-in-law’s loss with her battle to breast cancer twenty years ago. She was one of the kindest and sweetest people I have ever known, and I’m grateful that I was privileged to have her as part of my life.  I dedicate this poem to her.


My dearest Mother-in-Law,

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 I’ll always remember the day that we met,

When you welcomed me at the very outset.

Your loving ways and kind heart always came through

In each word and each action that you would do.

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Because of these things you were easy to love.

You were a mother-in-law that I was proud of.

All the family adored you; you were a treasure,

And being with you was indeed such a pleasure.

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We were all so happy until we heard one fateful day,

“I have breast cancer,” were the only words you could say.

Then you gathered your composure, looked at us and said,

“Now let’s not be sad – why not be hopeful instead?”

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You faced each day bravely with a smile on your face,

And you endured every procedure with dignity and grace.

You never said a word on the magnitude of your pain,

Although I’m sure it was difficult not to complain.

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Then we received news that the cancer had spread,

And we were all filled with a feeling of dread.

Why was this happening to someone so good?

“It is God’s will,” you said – yes – you understood.

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“Let’s not waste the days full of sadness and despair,

Let’s fill them with memories and good times we can share.”

Those were your wishes and so we complied.

We played games and talked, sitting at your bedside.

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We watched as you weakened with each passing day,

And we knew all we could do at that point was pray.

We dreaded the moment when you’d have to leave.

We dreaded the moment when we’d have to grieve.

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At last the day arrived when God called you home to rest,

Saddened to see you leave, we knew it was for the best.

Your struggle was finally over; you’d have pain no more.

But best of all, you’d be with God, Whom you’d come to adore.

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When you breathed your last, together we all cried,

For the beautiful woman who had just died.

Suddenly we realized it was another special day:

It was Mother’s Day when God called you home to stay.

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I thank God for bringing you into my life;

For allowing me to be my husband’s wife.

And in the not too-far distant future away,

I know that I will see you again one day.

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Your loving Daughter-in-Law,


My Beloved Mother

Today is my mother’s birthday, and although she is no longer with us,  I know that she watches over her family with love from heaven.  She has always remained alive in our memories and in our hearts. This poem is for you, Mom. I love you.




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I remember my Mother lovingly,
My memories of her are crystal clear.
I remember her acceptance and her love,
Memories which are so dear.

She married my Father because she loved him,
Then seven children did she bear,
It didn’t matter how many children she had,
Because she always showed me she did care.

The house she kept was immaculate,
Not a speck of dirt was in sight,
She set me quite an example,
As she worked both day and night.

She encouraged me to do my best,
Whether it be at home or at school,
She taught me how to get along with others,
That I must obey the golden rule.

She showed me how to do unto others,
As you would have them do unto you,
That I needed to be kind and caring,
And to myself I must always be true.

She brought me to church each Sunday,
And she taught me to love our Lord,
How to cherish and care for others,
That in Heaven I’d get my reward.

My Mother was my helper and guide,
She was my teacher and friend.
I loved my Mother with all my heart,
Until the very end.

My greatest regret is that she’s not here,
To meet my children today,
To be their Grandma and show them her love,
Or guide them along their way.

Yes, my beloved Mother is in Heaven now,
She is with the God she adores.
I know when I die she will be there,
To open wide Heaven’s Doors.

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I Remember You, Daddy

Last night I suffered through another bout of insomnia, a malady to which I’m no stranger. It seems the older I get, the more often I have to face this troublesome foe which robs me of precious hours of sleep, and last night was no different. Thus, the reason for my ability to rise and write today’s blog so early.

As the date on the computer screen popped up this morning, the jarring realization of the anniversary it marked surfaced in my memory. Today is the forty-first anniversary of my father’s death. I have not marked this occasion for many years, and why it is any different this year is beyond explanation, but for some reason, I feel compelled to write about my father today.

I grew up as the middle child of seven siblings – six girls and one boy. Ours was a very noisy household.  Sometimes I don’t know how my mother and father survived without going crazy. But we all loved each other, even though there were many arguments and disagreements; and we always reconciled in the end.

My father was not a tall man; he was quite short in stature. I remember his piercing blue eyes and his shiny bald head. He was a strict disciplinarian, and perhaps that trait was necessary, being the father of seven children. But even in spite of this, my father did love his children. At times you could see the loving side of his personality peek out from behind his tough exterior. My father also spent time having fun with us, and he could be generous and kind.

My Dad at Christmas time

My Dad at Christmas time

My father had a hobby that he enjoyed immensely. He raised parakeets. One by one he would train each bird to do special tricks and to talk. There was one parakeet in particular that was special. Her name was Baby, and she could talk up a storm. Baby was truly an amazing bird. My father had trained her well. She knew my dad was her master. Whenever my father walked into the room where she was located,  she would go crazy by squawking and ruffling her feathers. She just would not calm down until Dad took her out of the cage and let her sit on his shoulder. My father loved this bird and I think she loved him in return.

By the time I was fifteen, my two older sisters and brother had married, and I was now the oldest child at home, along with my three younger sisters. Then something happened that changed our lives forever. Our father was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Within six months our father lost his struggle with cancer and died, and we were left with our mother as our only parent.

Then something strange happened to me that I will never forget. It was the third night after the funeral, and as I laid in bed that night, memories of my father swirled around in my head. For some reason, Baby, our parakeet, was staying in her birdcage in my room, with her covered cage on top of my dresser. After tossing about for what seemed to me like hours, I finally fell asleep. I was deep in my slumber when suddenly I awoke to the sound of the parakeet squawking and flapping her wings. She was having an absolute fit and would not be quiet. This was really odd, because usually once the cover was placed over her cage for the night, she was quiet until the next morning when the cover was removed. I was really puzzled.

At the time this happened, I was lying in my bed facing the wall. Suddenly I could feel a presence in the room, but for some reason I was not frightened. Then I could feel the sensation of being held in someone’s arms. I did not roll over to see who it was; I thought it was my mother. I called out my mother’s name and she answered me – but she was down the hallway in her own bedroom. I called her again and this time I could hear her footsteps as she walked down the hallway towards my room. When she entered my room, she turned on the light, and the parakeet finally became quiet. Then, just as suddenly as they had come, the arms that had been holding me were gone.

After my mother reassured me, she turned out the light and left my room. Then I remembered something my father had once told me long ago. He said, “I will always be your father and I will always take care of you, no matter what.”

It was then I knew I had been in my father’s arms.

And so, Daddy, I want you to know that today, I remember you. I will always love you.

QUOTE FOR THE DAY:  “Death ends a life, not a relationship.” ~ Robert Benchley ~