December 10, 2004 was the day. I was just ending my "shift" of sitting with my mamma at St. Mary Hospital in Port Arthur, Texas. She had been hospitalized the Saturday before because she had broken her back. Actually, it's more accurate to say her back just broke. She had osteoporosis (brittle bones) to such an extent that just a routine movement while watching television caused the bones to crack. She was enduring tremendous pain, so my time with her consisted of trying to find some position that offered even slight relief. My brother and sister were each taking their turns at sitting with her, and they had the same problem. The doctors were offering no hope of a recovery this time. We had seen her very sick on several occasions, but she had always managed to bounce back somehow. When we realized that this time would be different, our goal became to keep her as comfortable as possible, so we allowed the medical staff to give her the strongest pain killer they had.
My sister had arrived to relieve me, and we were sitting in the hospital room visiting quietly. Mamma had settled into a light sleep, but at least it was a few moments of relative relief for her. After a few minutes, we heard our mamma begin to pray. We couldn't understand every word, because it was obviously a private situation between her and God. I heard her say, "Jesus, you know I've always loved you." As I stood next to her bed, her eyes fluttered open and she had a confused look on her face as she spoke to me. She asked, "Oh, son. Have you already crossed over?"
"No mamma. We're still in the hospital, but it's okay if you need to go."
Then the conversation took me by surprise, as mamma said, "Well, I've seen all the family." I immediately understood that she was referring to getting glimpses into heaven. She then said, "You know I've loved you since the day you were born?"
"Yes, mamma. I know that." I felt my throat closing and couldn't speak without my voice cracking.
"Well, I have just one more question for you."
"What is it mamma?
"Are you sure you're saved?"
"Yes mamma, I'm sure."
"Then, I don't want you to cry too much, because I'm going to see you again." After a pause, "Where's Kristi?"
"I'm here mamma." She was standing on the other side of the bed.
Turning her head slowly in the direction of my sister's voice, "Oh, there's my sweet baby girl! You have been such a joy to me."
At this point, tears were flowing freely down my face, and I was trying to process all this. Is my mamma really telling us good-bye?
Talking to both of us now, she told us, "Ya'll make sure you tell your daddy, thank you for all the wonderful years we had together." Then she said to me, "go call your brother. Don't let me go until he gets here."
My brother arrived about 45 minutes later, and she told him her good-byes. My heart was breaking as I was trying to handle this, so my memory is cloudy on some of the specifics she told him, but I remember it being very tender, and her last words to him were something like, "always trust God, son."
Shortly after these conversations, mamma slipped into a comma and went to be with the Jesus that she loved in the wee hours of the morning on December 11th. As time has marched forward, and life somehow slowly began to return to the new normal, I have thought about this gripping scene many times. As hard as it was at the time, I wouldn't go back and change it at all. The peace that she left us with her dying words is strong. The confidence that we will see her again is real.
Somehow, God gave my mother the strength and wisdom to know what I needed to hear. It's also amazing that even on her death bed, her main concern was for her family. To me, that is a characteristic God has instilled in mothers. So, if your mom has already "crossed over" may the memory of her make you happy today, not sad. She wouldn't want you to be sad. If you are blessed with having your mom still in your life, get past the commercial aspect of mother's day and celebrate the Love that is Motherhood.
Happy Mother's Day!
Until next time.......Steve ( www.tidwinkle.com )