Monday, November 29, 2010

Tougher Than I Expected

I promise you that there will be more funny stories to come! Humor will always be part of my life and therefore, part of this blog.

But December 2nd will mark two years for us since Mom changed her address permanently. Naturally, my heart has trouble thinking of anything else right now.

Warning: today's post will be lengthy (about six minutes) and I needed a hankie while writing!

We had moved Mom to a nursing facility closer to Dad over Thanksgiving that year and thought we were settling in for a six to nine month season. Thankfully, I took time to speak to the therapist who had been working with her.

She pulled me into an office, closed the door and asked if she could speak to me as a daughter, not a nurse. I braced myself but nothing could have prepared me for what she said.

"I've worked with your mom a lot these three weeks. Her condition is deteriorating rapidly and I don't honestly think you have months. You should probably prepare yourself for her to be gone before Christmas."

That was on Friday - Mom died the following Tuesday. We will always be thankful that God put that amazing therapist in our path. Otherwise, there would have been no warning at all!

The following is the email I sent to friends and family telling about Mom's last hours here:

It's hard to believe that just two short weeks ago we received the call from Dad saying Mom "had a bad night" and suddenly I was driving as fast as possible to north FL.

For all the rest of my life I will be thankful that Frank pushed me out of the office. "Don't wait, Sheri. Go now!"

I talked with Dad by cell phone while traveling and we thought she had just run into a problem with her sugar. Some insulin and better communication with food services would surely straighten things out.

She was able to eat some lunch and Dad said that she acknowledged a young pastor (one they had mentored) who visited around 4:00. So I fully expected her to rebound.

I arrived at the nursing facility just after 6:00 and found that she wasn't responding. As I stepped to the bedside and started stroking her hair, I realized that things were coming to a close. Quickly.

I wish I could tell you that I was brave and strong. But tears dripped from my eyes as I leaned over her sweet face. "Mom, please hold on until Vonnie (my sister) can get here. She's on her way. We'll all celebrate together then, Mom. Please try to hold on just a little while." It was important that she know we wouldn't try to keep her here if the Lord was calling.

The Thompson's (District Pastors) "just happened" to stop by around 6:45. After some time, Sis. Thompson asked if it would be okay to sing for Mom. She started with "Beulah Land" and as we all sang, Mom's breathing changed ever so slightly.

I must admit to selfishly thinking, "Oh, please don't sing that. Mom will hear Heaven and she'll want to go right now."

"Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus" was next and as we sang the second verse of "Great is Thy Faithfulness", Mom just stopped breathing.

No struggle. Not even a crease in her brow. She just quit breathing here and started breathing Heaven's air.

It was truly a sacred moment that I'll never forget. She was there for my first breath and I was privileged to be there for her last.

Even as she was leaving this world, Mom was used of the Lord to minister to someone else. The Hospice nurse, chosen "randomly" to attend Mom, had a troubled teenage son. He was going the next day to some rehabilitation program called Teen Challenge and she was scared about what he would experience. (Mom and Dad worked two years for Teen Challenge and supported the ministry over forty years.)

Dad was able to spend the afternoon explaining the program and assuring this mother that her son was going to the best help available.

After Mom passed, the nurse slipped over to Sis. Thompson and said, "That was the most beautiful death I've ever experienced. You could tell that the Lord Himself came in to take her home."

Her memorial service was perfect, thanks to the congregation of Carmel Assembly of God. Pastor Tommy and his team cared for us, watching over every detail. Frank and Chris both spoke. The girls sang "My Tribute/How Great Thou Art", John played piano and Frank sang "It Is Well". Rev. Thompson concluded the service with a message of hope.

Our theology with this final story is a bit questionable - but bear with me. If you knew Mom, you'll fully agree with our thinking.

The burial site Dad had chosen was in a rural area right next to a large pasture. As we feared, the curious cows in that pasture lined the fence to check out all the "visitors".

They observed in perfect silence until the pastor said his final, "Amen." At that exact moment, one cow came into agreement with a LOUD "Mooooooooo!"

We all looked up, startled, and began to laugh just the way Mom would have!

That evening our family decided that Mom had probably convinced some poor, unsuspecting angel to kick the cow at just the right moment. The kids wondered if God has a "time out" corner in Heaven.

Yep, I told you the theology is questionable. But that would be just like my little mama who loved laughter so much. Her philosophy was that laughter trumps tears every time.

And so it does, Mom. So it does.


  1. I wish I would have had a chance to know that marvelous lady you called, "Mom." Thanks for "introducing" her to all of us through your blog, your words, and your heart.

    So much of what you wrote reminded me of my dad's Homegoing last August. I'm thankful--for both of us-- that tears are a language God understands.

    Love you,

  2. Thinking of you as you miss your Mom. It's sounds like a good day to crawl up onto the Lord's lap and have a good old cry while He holds you...I really don't think He'd be upset with a whine or two either as you hold the kleenex box in your lap. He loves you, Sheri, and feels your loss.

    My "theology": First we have a human birth...then a come-to-know Jesus birth...then birthed right into the arms of Christ in heaven. The Lord and your Mom must surely be having a dance (or ten) celebrating her first year birthday in heaven!

    So when the tears have stilled for a minute or two, imagine what your Mom and the Lord are doing today as they celebrate (cake, fireworks?) and maybe a tender little smile will find its way to your lips.

    Love ya!

  3. Today I'm thanking the Lord for your Mom and the precious daughter she raised. Knowing how it hurts to miss your Mom, you're being prayed for. Love you!

  4. two years ago in July 6 of us 7 kids, and a whole pile of grandkids were with my precious loving mother when she took her last breath here on earth too and her next one in Heaven. It was so very special to be with her when she passed on to Heaven. I sat reading your post with tears knowing how hard it is to lose your beloved parents but yet how could we wish them back to this earth when they are in Heaven with Jesus? Thanks for the post... It was good to read. I am a lurker so you probably won't hear from me again :-) Wendy