“Can you give me the numbers I need if I want to call you?”
“Sure.” I repeated the numbers for the third time.
“So, those are the numbers I can use to mail you something?”
These are the common conversations with my mother. Repetition. Confusion. She doesn’t know how to spell many words, and doesn’t read very well. I’ve learned not to worry about if she gets the numbers correct, or if I give her the whole address. She is content to have written something down. She doesn’t call like she used to though…she can only call with Dad.
I miss when she would call frequently. I miss when she would send notes or little gifts…like the gift she got at the makeup counter and thought I would like.
I miss when her mind was whole.
She planned and orchestrated and amazing wedding for Steve and I. I mean amazing. I mean the kind of wedding I still get comments on 14 years later. She was the master of pulling together details and making things look elegant.
She hasn’t lost all of that. She still dresses herself well and in coordinating jewelry and hair bands.
Still. I miss the days when she could delight in children. She loved babies and loved children. When we were expecting Zachary, almost 11 years ago, she and my dad came to Vancouver to help us. They came in the door doing a little dance and singing “We’re the doulas, we’re the doulas”…then they scrubbed our house and made the transition to being parents as easy as possible.
She would laugh and tell stories to the kids.
Now she gets impatient with the older children, and her delight in Maddie is, as I’ve said before, the delight of anyone in a baby…not the delight of a Grandmother with her granddaughter.
I do not like to think about these things. I do not like to because it is hard to fight back the tears when I think on who we are missing. It is, as I’ve said before, a long mourning as we watch her slowly change from an elegant and commanding woman to a child-like, confused woman.
It is not right, and it is not as it should be.
22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? Romans 8:22-24
Creation knows. We know. There is an ache deep within us that things are not as they should be….as they could be.
Sometimes I try to ignore that ache and that mourning. Sometimes, though, I think we need to be taught to mourn well…even in the midst of circumstances. I often want to hold back the tears until the day that Mom is completely gone. I think it is partly because that will also be celebration because we believe that she will be redeemed in her body and she will be finally complete.
For now, though, this was one of the main reasons for starting this blog. To have a place to write about this experience. It sucks. No way around that…and yet even in this there are things to be learned.
Yesterday was mom’s birthday. The boys called and sang to her and she loved it. She knew in that moment that she was loved and that these were her grandchildren. That was a great moment. That is to be celebrated…and the painful moments are to be mourned. Mourned with hope, though, that ultimately things will be as they should be.
Sarah…you help me grieve the slow loss of my mom who has been free and with Jesus now for a number of years. I will say that that going from us felt more joyful because it was too long and protracted in coming. When I arrived at my sister’s house in Birmingham for her funeral, her bag was in the vestibule of Miriam’s house and we knew she was off. I thought Bali or someplace even more exotic. Thanks for mourning out loud and allowing us to participate.
Thanks, Amy. It is amazing how many are impacted by this…and your description of your mom’s leaving is wonderful. Praying for peace for you as well…
Sarah, thank you for so beautifully sharing this intimate slice of your life. What a wonderful way to mark these days that are so fragile. I mourn with you because I remember her grace, and I mourn with you because I too know this loss.
Sarah, I have gone throught this with my grandmother when my son was very little and then again 8 years ago with my Dad. I never could put into words how it felt as elequently you do. I think it hurts more to see them slip away into their own world where we are not a part of it much more than if it was sudden. I still miss Daddy and his Mother but I know they are both whole again and with the angels in heaven. I just remember the good parts and try not to dwell on the last days. But you know, seeing them in those last days makes the good times so much more precious memories. Happy birthday to your Mom and God bless you because you are a very special lady, a wonderful Mom and a blessing to your Mom.
Vicki…yes, you know! She was something, wasn’t she. She still is in a way.
Carol…thank you. You are right that when we experience seeing those we love in this fragile way it amplifies the good times.
I was also thinking this morning that what a glory heaven will be for those who have suffered. We’ve suffered slightly with this…but those who have truly experienced suffering…how much more glorious will heaven be?
Sarah, thanks for writting this so candidly exposing your inner most feelings. It is a big encouragement for all of us going through similar life experiences. And yes, it sucks and yes we need to learn how to deal with the aging of parents. Not just them, but our feelings as well.
So keep writing. We will keep reading. And in everything we pray to our Father who holds it all in His hands.
Love, Diana Cua
Thank you, Diana…
Hi Sarah, I don’t think I have visited your blog in a long time, but am here now! 🙂 Ironically, my dad’s 89th birthday was on the 25th as well. Timely words as always Sarah…beautifully written..what a beautiful mom you have. My eyes kept reading the same words over and over, and Romans 8…God’s peace to you and your mom during this time. love, nene/nancy from the pp
Oh Sarah…you have such a love for your Mom and a tremendous gift for communicating it. Thank you for sharing with us 🙂
Nene…so good to see your name here. Thinking of you and your dad.
you made me cry like a baby … i am so sorry … it will be one year (2/16) for us without mommy… i have sat with many people as a companion , waiting and caring for them , watching and praying as they slip away … often calling for their own mothers ,always calling for God … when those who are christians do finally leave this earth the family is sad but also overjoyed that finally at long last their loved ones are at peace, forever whole and well bc they sit at the feet of Jesus… i think that more than anything has helped me with losing mommy … to be able to know – she is ok .
I remember when your mom passed away, Chris. It is so tough to watch our mom’s getting older and going through these experiences. Thanks so much for reading…and for adding your voice.
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