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 together....so 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.