Saturday, May 12, 2012

Final Words

I learned the sign for the word "independent" yesterday from my friend Karen Emkes.  She was using it in regards to her youngest, Micah, but I filed it away in my mind for myself.  I was born an independent little thing and it proved to be somewhat of a wedge between my mother and me.  She had longed for a little girl to spoil and dress in frilly things, and what she got was me.  Don't touch me, let me play in the dirt, and I'm perfectly fine on my own.  Broke her heart, I think.  But, she forged on and throughout my life we battled over her desire to hug and contain and my desire to do my own thing....go my own way.  We loved each other, but it wasn't always pretty....there were intense moments of angry voices, tears, and it was often a sheer battle of wills, but still we loved each other.

Two years ago, my mother passed away at the age of 87.  She had been quite healthy her entire life, but cancer  is that awful thief that creeps into the bodies of our loved ones and snatches the life from them.  She fought a good fight, but it was not meant for her to live longer, and the Lord called her home.  She had been unconscious for days as we sat by her bed stroking her hands and wetting her lips, singing her favorite hymns and waiting for the inevitable.  She died on a Monday, but that last Sunday was God's gift to me.

For a few months, Mom had been out of her head, talking all sorts of rambling thoughts and not recognizing us. She had wild moments where she imagined herself somewhere else and nothing would calm her, no words would soothe.  Her last full day on earth was different. She woke up and knew people.  My niece Erica had spent the night by her side and when we arrived in the morning, Mom was awake and the two of them were deep in "conversation", Erica talking and mom doing her best to talk back.  Amazed is the only way to describe how we felt as she stayed awake for the day.  Her 94 year old sister came and they sang hymns bittersweet to see Aunt Irby, the older one, saying goodbye to her baby sister.

I made my way over to Mom.  She had not known me for months, not really.  I leaned over her bed, wet her lips and gazed down on the woman I had battled over the years...the one who had longed for hugs and got  Miss Independent instead.  With her filmy eyes, she looked up at me, and said, "Paula, I love you!"   SHE KNEW ME and at the end of her days, her very last full day, she told me in those 4 words what had always been in her heart.

I miss my mother with everything that is in me.  I would love to sit on the porch swing with her and let her hold my hand...the one thing she often wanted to do, but the one thing that was so hard for me to let her do.  I would love to apologize for the many times I spoke angry words to her, but you know something?  She told me with her dying words how she felt.....She Loves Me.....and I know all is forgiven.

If you still have your mother, hug her today and tomorrow and every day she is with you.  Hold her hand and let her play with your hair.  Give her the time she desires and treasure up the moments while you can.  Don't wait, please don't wait.


  1. Dear Paula, Thank you for sharing your heart with us. You made me cry. :'-) You are right....even if our relationship with our mother is tough, we should love them anyway and try to work things out while there's still time. Us moms get it wrong sometimes, and mess things up...but hopefully our kids can find the love underneath the mistakes and come to a place of peace, trust, and acceptance. Happy mother's day. <3

  2. Paula, your words are so touching. I do wish I had done more of those things with my mom -- holding her hand, just sitting and talking. She went home to be with the Lord nearly 12 years ago....and I still miss her every day!

  3. Beautiful, Paula. I'm so glad you had that last moment with her.

  4. Paula,

    You made me cry. Your post reminds me of my situation with my mom. I too have been very independent. My mother also grew up in a different culture where hugs and kisses and words of affirmation were not the normal for her. Its hard and honestly I have never heard the words "Yanni, I love you" from her, but i know that she does. In her way she has shown me. I know that its the way she grew up and I try each day to get closer to her now that she is still with me. Thank you for this post.

    1. Yanni, I think that many women struggle with our mothers. We see the posts about best friends and moms who are almost fairy tale images, but few talk about the differences that can almost break relationships. I'm glad you have your mother still to love and I know the Lord will continue to work in you to honor her.

      My mother never heard the words "I love you" either. She longed, LONGED for someone to tell her that. Like you, her mother worked and did all she could to bring her up, but the words were never there. I hope you get to hear them from your mother and that God grows you closer together!!

      Thanks for your comment:)