All this week, I have felt such a heaviness in my heart and spirit coming up to May 6th – this was the last day that I spent with my Mother. May 6th of 2017 was on a Saturday, it was such a busy week and I was exhausted mentally and physically. My Mother had been ravaged by Alzheimer’s for about 5 years and it seemed to attack with such quiet calculation with the goal to completely engulf my Mother’s whole being of the Woman, Wife and Mother that she once was. It may have begun before the 5 years when it quietly and ever so gently began letting her forget names, places and key events and we of course chalked it up to getting old and then it slowly started creeping into her precious memory bank and quietly taking days, weeks, months and then years away – erasing her seven children from her mind. At last, that was not good enough for the this unwanted visitor and adversary, Alzheimer,decided to ravish her frail body taking her ability to walk, talk, swallow and lastly to breath…..
On this Saturday morning, I received The Call, the one I had been expecting for a few weeks. It was around 7:00AM and the phone rang. The sound was so loud that it seemed as thought it could be heard throughout the house. I wasn’t frazzled as people get when they have an early or late night call. Before I could even grab the phone that lay on the nightstand beside my bed…I knew what it was about and what the message would be. It was my oldest sister, that had so graciously moved back to our small south Georgia town 3 years ago to be with our Mother because she could no longer live alone anymore. She was speaking but I only grasped the words that I felt was important,; the nurse, it is time and everyone should come home. I remember saying I am on my way and will be there in 3 to 4 hours – the time I needed to grab a few things and drive from Atlanta to my childhood home. I called my baby girl, all of 24 years old but still my one and only baby, who usually provides me with 2 choices for early morning calls either to not pick-up or a snarling growl. This morning was different – she answer on the 2nd ring and her voice was so clear. With as much calmness as I could muster up I stated we have to go home to say good bye to your Grand Mother and with such strength she said “Mommy I will be ready in 15 minutes” no questions just I will be ready. The next call was to my “sister niece” we are 6 years apart so we have more of a sister relationship. This girl will be late for her funeral, I actually think she invented the word late. This morning like myself – I think she was also waiting on “The Call” with a calm voice she just stated I will be ready when you come over – let’s go.
Our drive home was as normal as we could make it. We were entertain by my 4 year old niece – the daughter of my “sister niece” who like any other 4 year old – talked insanely too much with such innocence and joy; a stop at Chick-Fil-A for breakfast; discussions on the entertainment and current politics and sing alongs from the radio and my R&B selections via CD. All of this was a large mask to keep us from breaking down – we knew we would have several opportunities for this upon our arrival. We just needed to be calm until we could make it home.
I had visited my Mom and sister about 3 weeks earlier but upon opening the back screen door that had that distinct squeaking sound I was not prepared for the vision of my Mother laying in her hospital bed that resided in the Family den. My oldest sister greeted us at the door with exhaustion all over her face. As I hugged her I could tell she had lost weight due to the stress of caring for my Mother – she was doing her best to keep it together. In just 3 weeks, my Mother’s already frail frame had reduced to skin and bones, her mouth did not completely closed as thought this was the only way that air could engulf her body. Her skin color had changed and what I will always remember is the sound of her breathing, which was a low rumble. That was it – I could not hold it together any longer, the pretending was over from the drive. My Family was in the thick of it…it was her last day and we had to say good-bye. We just cried and cried, I so hated to see my daughter crying and experiencing her first death of someone from her immediate family but I could not hold or console her because I had reverted back to a child and was aching from my soul.
We all took turns talking to her, rubbing her hands and whispering with all of the confidence that we had the strength to say that “we will be fine, go ahead relax and let go – join Daddy”. I prayed for God to send angels to comfort her and make this a smooth process but she held on throughout the day. We all gathered in the Den and watched movies, sent a family member out to grab hot dogs and fries from our favorite hometown shack because it certainly isn’t a restaurant, but the food is so darn good. We reminisced over old family stories of Mamma and my Sweet Daddy that left us in 1989. I felt as thought she could hear us, that she laughed with us….I am confident that she knew that we were there. As the darkness of night came upon us and our bodies and spirits allowed exhaustion to settle in. Our den became a girls sleep over we put on our pajamas and rushed to claim a sofa or comfortable chair to sleep in the Den near Mamma. We watched Lifetime movies, emptied the cupboards of junk food to try to stay awake and we all took turns staying awake while the others slept. I am comforted that my Mother had her last duty as a Mother….she just quietly waited us out as all good Moms do….she knew we would eventually lose the battle to sleep. At 3:13AM on Sunday morning, my sister woke to go to the bathroom but as she passed by my Mother’s hospital bed. She touched my mother’s still warm hand and placed her fingers to her nose and mouth and realized that she was no longer on this earth with us. My Sister’s voice with such calmness said “she’s gone”. I envision that my mother’s spirit rose up and she smiled as she saw us sleeping like little kids on the floor, in the sofa and in the big chair and she let go. She let go of the pain, darkness and feeling of being in the world of strangers. She walked in the arms of God and in my mind my Daddy .
May 6, 2017 was the last day I spent with my Mother.
The lost of a parent can be so devastating and leaves a hole in your soul. Please feel free to comment if you would like to share your comments or thoughts and I hope you enjoy the read.