Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day -- February 14, 2004

Day 14 in this Month of Love -- Valentine's Day -- February 14, 2004
As usual on Valentine’s, my husband, Ron, took my Mom the single rose in a vase and her favorite box of chocolates. Mom had been living at the Grace Living Center in Jenks, OK for four and a half months because of a severe fall, which the doctor said was reason enough for her to not live alone anymore. “With her heart condition, this could happen again,” he told us.

It was a daily routine for the Nurse’s Aides to get Mom up each morning, help dress her in one of her coordinated outfits, and take her in her wheelchair to the dining hall for her breakfast, and other meals. But, when we arrived at her room (as was my daily routine anyway, but Ron went with me this morning), Mom was still in bed. Patsy, the South Wing Nurse, was leaning over Mom checking her heart with her stethoscope. Patsy looked up at us and said, “Edna’s not feeling so good today. She threw up quite hard last night. Her false teeth fell out of her mouth and the bottom ones broke!” I immediately replied to Mom, “That’s okay -- I’ll take them on Monday and get them fixed”. Mom didn't want anyone to see her without her dentures, so I knew I would have to make that a “priority” errand on Monday (this was Saturday). I could tell she wasn’t feeling good. She didn’t respond heartily to our greetings, and only gave a “little” smile to Ron as he reached down and kissed her, held out the rose in the vase and said, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Mom! Here’s my flower and chocolates for my Sweetheart!”
And, as I leaned in close to her, I assured her that she looked beautiful without those dentures, caressing her face and soothing her with words to comfort the fact that she wasn’t feeling good. I hadn’t seen “my smile” from her yet, so I did my usual coaxing, "Where’s 'my smile'?" To which, she gave a half-hearted little smile and mouthed the words, “I’m okay!” I noticed she had on her red plaid pajamas. “I see you’ve got on your Valentine’s PJs!” Ron then said, kiddingly, “Hey, Mom! Come on. Get up. Let’s go shopping at the Mall. I’ll push you in your silver Cadillac (her wheel-chair)” She always knew when Ron was jesting with her and today was no exception. She responded back to him by her typical sticking-out-her-tongue at him.

Everyone who knew her, knew how she loved to “kid” and “be kidded” by Ron. She and Ron had an unusually close relationship for the 40 years we had been married and five years before that. For many years Mom lived with us when our children were young. Ron would tell everyone, “Mom and I have never had a cross word with one another – well, except for the one time I had to scold her for allowing our 10-year old daughter to coax her into doing her chores (i.e., making her bed, emptying the dishwasher, etc.). Our daughter, Staci, would pay her fifty cents from her allowance.”

Ron’s Mom, Lydia, always came by to see my Mom every Saturday after her weekly hair appointment, which was just a couple of blocks away. This morning was no exception. She came in and greeted her dearest friend of over 45 years. It was these two women who diligently “arranged, prayed, and continued to bless” the relationship of Ron and I since I was twelve, and he was thirteen years old. How appropriate for all of us being together on this Valentine’s Day. It was “Mom” Lydia, and her husband, that drove Ron and I to our first date, which was a church Valentine’s Banquet, 45 years ago. While all of us were together this morning, Mom kept trying to tell me something. I just couldn’t make out the words.

Since I had been through many physical “ups and downs” with Mom over the last few years, I assumed that this morning would be like those from before where I had seen her feeling very low, but would bounce right back in just a matter of time. We all were convinced that Mom had nine lives -- she’d been so close to death several times in the last few years, but would recover and be her full-of-life self, spreading her love and joy to everyone around her once again.

Before leaving her this morning, Ron reached out to Mom in his customary way, joined my hand and his Mother’s hand, and said, “Let’s pray.” He prayed his usual prayer of faith and trusting in God for Mom’s healing, rest and peace. We all took turns reaching down and kissing her and telling her "good-bye". I told her I’d be back after a short while to see her. I guess I had a premonition that Mom needed extra TLC today, so I went to the Nurse’s Station and said to Patsy and the Nurses Aides, “I know you check on Mom regularly, but would you keep an even closer eye on her today, and call me if her condition changes?” They assured me that they would.

We had just gone for a Valentine's breakfast with Ron's Mom, when I got a call from Patsy saying, “Donna, I’m sorry to tell you; your Mother passed away.” Oh, the painful emotion I felt and the questioning ensued -- “Why wasn’t I there? Why did we leave her?” When we got back to the Nursing Home, the Nurses Aides were with her. She was still in the same position as when we left. Nadia, one of the dear Nurses Aides from Russia, immediately told us that she had come in to see if Mother wanted lunch. Being Russian Orthodox in her religious beliefs, Nadia asked Mom if she could pray with her. Mother would always accept an offer for prayer. Nadia recounted her last moments with Mom. She said that she had prayed a simple prayer and said that Mother’s eyes followed her gesture of signing her with the cross. Nadia left her room and after just a few minutes, Nadia came back to check on Mom, and she was gone.

After pondering the events of Mom's final moments of life. I came to believe that with Nadia's gesture of signing Mom with the cross, that Mom, like Jesus Christ said in His final moments, said, “It is finished”, and chose to "go home". Her assignment on this earth was finished.

After someone so close leaves us, we let our imaginations and deepest desires come to mind, hoping to relieve the pain of parting. Ron said, “Papa got his Valentine Sweetheart back today!” (Papa, my Dad and Mother’s husband of 34 years, had preceded Mother in death forty years ago.) My dear Mother-in-Law, Lydia, said, “Donna, remember when Edna was trying to tell you something before we left? I know she was saying, 'He’s coming for me.'" For me, having been a part of this beautiful, precious saint’s life for 56 years, (I deemed her Saint Edna Pearl long ago), who, because of her prayers, steadfastness, strength, true unconditional love for me in all of my growing-up years, caused me to be a the woman I am today. Though I miss her so much, just knowing her daily prayers of going home to be with Jesus and my Dad, were answered, causes me great comfort and joy. I think that my Dad and God had a mutual agreement on this Valentine’s Day, “Let’s bring our “Best Girl and Sweetheart” home!” And, they did.

Happy Valentine’s Day in Heaven, Mom, AND to my Sweetheart! I'm quite sure that you two are having a hay day running around heaven. What a sweet picture that is to me. You're healed, whole and celebrating God's overwhelming love! What a day of rejoicing it is for you there, AND me here!

FB Friends, please indulge me as I share these photo memories with my family and you!