July 28, 2012

happy birthday, mom

Warning:  This is a wordy post. Feel free to scroll through to the pictures.

Today is my mother’s birthday and she would have turned 83 if she were still alive. Instead, a sarcoma took her from our lives last month after a short, but devastating battle. Today is also the day that both of my parents reach their final resting place on earth with their burial in Gate of Heaven, a mere formality since they are quite nicely settled into their rooms prepared for them by God (John 14:1-6).

Last summer, after my dad passed away, also from a sarcoma, Brianna and I stayed with Mom – Brianna for the whole summer, me for a couple of weeks. During that first week, Mom told us that she wanted to do things outside of the house without having to be aware of the time. (Mom had been Dad’s caregiver throughout his battle with cancer.) One day we ventured to Skyline Caverns and took the long way along Skyline Drive. When we stopped to take in the view, Brianna snapped a picture of the three of us, one that carries strong memories.

I felt the need to make a card for my mom today, but with her being a Depression baby and never wanting anything to go to waste, I worked with a sentiment other than happy birthday, Mom.

This card is an homage to her love of quilts and her ability to deal with adversity. It is also an acknowledgement of the last few months. The following is from a note to a forum friend written the day after my mom’s death:

My mom passed away yesterday morning, which is truly a blessing. The radiation treatments weren't helping Mom, so her doctors recommended that she go on hospice. She started with Hospice of Virginia - they were fabulous - right after Mother's Day. While she had good days and bad, the good were noticeable because they were so few in number. This last week, she wasn't able to get out of bed, could barely communicate and seemed to be in pain even while on pain meds. She developed a high fever Thursday evening and passed away Friday morning after having about four peaceful hours of rest.

I've been with my mom since April. Although I would much prefer that she never had cancer and was still living, I am grateful that I had these past two months with her and all it included. I feel closer to my mom and sisters after this challenge; have a greater appreciation for life and death; and learned and confirmed some interesting things about myself as a daughter, sister and person.

We are all still a little numb. Our lives have centered around my mom and her needs, so without medicine schedules, potty chair breaks, etc., we are feeling lost. I am so grateful that she is no longer in pain and is in a better place, but I do miss holding her hand.

I realize this post has jumped around a bit, sort of like my mind lately. I seek your indulgence and have decided to end with this quote that my mom kept near her:

This I will remember
When the rest of life is through,
The finest thing I’ve ever done
            Is simply loving you!


PS - This is being entered in the Moxie Fab World Hooked on Hexagons Challenge.

paper:  rustic cream c/s (PTI); ancestry.com (K&Company)
stamps:  Happy Hexagons and Quilter’s Sampler (PTI)
ink: robin’s egg and dune pigment (Colorsnap); vintage sepia dye (VersaFine)
dies:  hexagon cover plate (PTI)

My Eulogy to Mom given on June 15, 2012.

If any of you have been lucky enough to have a mother in your life, you probably learned the same basics that our mom taught us.
How to iron – we started our lessons on Dad’s handkerchiefs.
How to cook – actually, Mom preferred her sweets, so we learned how to bake first… cookies, cherry crisp, angel food cake.
How to clean – including the inside of the toilet tank.
How to trim rose bushes – remember to cut above the five-leaf cluster.
How to be patient – you should try waiting in the grocery store for Mom to finish a conversation… especially as a little kid.
And the list goes on and on.

We were beyond lucky, though, because we were blessed with a mother who taught us about more than the basics. Mom taught us about love, all aspects of it. Although, truly, what is more basic than love?

Every day, Mom showed us her love of and respect for life and her love of God for giving her that life. Her actions and her words let us know how grateful she was for (almost) each day of her 82 plus years.

Mom’s love of her family shone in the big and little things she did for us. I remember one instance when Dad was away on a business trip and something in the house broke. Mom informed Dad about it and told him it would be waiting for him to fix when he got home. I don’t recall what the item was, but I knew that Mom could have handled the repair quite easily herself. When I asked her about it, she told me that it was important to Dad to feel needed at home, so she left the repair for him.

Mom’s friends held a special place in her heart. With them, she didn’t have to be wife, mother, sister, daughter with all the expectations inherent in those roles. With her friends, she could simply be herself – a pillar of strength at times, a little ditzy other times, a good listener, quick with a smile, a bit stubborn, and oh so caring. I’ve always felt Mom was the best mother ever, but I’ve also learned that she is a great friend, too.

Although Mom loved with all her heart, she did not love blindly. Mom was realistic about those she loved. She knew each of our foibles and, though they might annoy her, loved us in spite of them. It was either a case of “I’m not perfect myself” or “There but for the grace of God.” She would get angry with us or we with her, but forgiveness was always freely given, which is the greatest lesson of all.

Sitting on top of Mom and Dad’s desk was a scrap of paper with a verse that Mom had copied. When I asked her about it, she told me that it speaks to how she feels about love, not only of her husband, but of all those she loves. This is how it goes:

This I will remember
When the rest of life is through,
The finest thing I’ve ever done
            Is simply loving you!

I love you, Mom.


pamela said...

What an amazing post :) My grandma was diagnosed with gastric cancer more than a year ago, and the doctor said she only had three or so months to live. But to this day, she's doing better than ever, taking chinese medicine, no chemo, no radiation. Even though our whole family doesn't want her to leave, we know that one day, if she does, she will be in a better place. The sentiment you used for the card is beautiful ♥

Diana said...

Beautiful post and card. The verse your mom kept close really touched my heart. Thanks for sharing.

Leigh said...

What a beautiful tribute to your mom, Nancy, as well as a lovely card! My mom taught me how to iron by ironing my dad's handkerchiefs, too. I love that verse that meant so much to your mom--- wouldn't that be wonderful if PTI made it into a stamp?

carol (krillsister) said...

I am so sorry for your loss. This post is a wonderful tribute to her as well as your eulogy. Love your card too! Very CAS.

Emma said...

Im so sorry for your loss Nancy. Your mother sounds like she was an amazing woman. Your post and card are beautiful.

Contagiously Crafty said...

What a lovely tribute to your mother! Your words, thoughts and actions are a testimony to her life. What a beautiful card.

Cath said...

Hey Nancy! Thanks for linking this up to the Hooked on Hexagons Challenge in the Moxie Fab World! I'm so glad you joined in on all the fun!

What a beautiful post as well. :)