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