As we drove home this evening, the clouds gathered on the horizon and the Good Lord painted the evening sky with a thousand shades of red, orange, mauve, purple and other colors for which there are no names. I thought to myself, “Now there's a sympathy card you don't see every day.”
When I stepped out of the car, the wind in the pines sounded like the angry surf. I love that sound, and I longed to be standing on a beach somewhere with the ocean mist blowing in my face.
The lights flickered as we walked inside and I thought for a moment that the wind would knock the power out, but thankfully it didn't.
We've been so busy with arrangements, visitation and the funeral that I had forgotten to feed the deer who wander through our garden each day. I changed clothes and stepped down to the shed for a scoop of corn.
After I poured the corn under the apple tree, I moved to the middle of the field to get a better view of the sky. As I stood, I saw the first star of the night. Off to the south, a plane winked silently across the darkening sky and a profound sense of sadness swept over me.
It was the first time I've really been alone since mother took a turn for the worse. After she died, I was surrounded by friends, family and neighbors who wrapped me in a warm blanket of love.
I talked until I was almost hoarse and there was little time for the sadness to sink in.
Jilda, who has lost both her parents (her dad in 1991 and her mom in 2005) told me that losing one parent was brutal, but losing them both was indescribable. It's beginning to sink in just how true those words were.
My mom's health began to decline over 10 years ago. She had heart surgery, broke both hips (at different times) and suffered a stroke.
She had always been a fireball until the stroke. That changed something inside. It took away much of her fight and changed who she was.
My sister took my mom into her home and provided care for many years. When my sister began to have health problems of her own, we had to make a family decision.
Talking to my mom about the nursing home was the most difficult conversation I have ever had in my life.
She didn't like the idea of a nursing home, but she didn't want to make things worse for my sister so she decided to stay.
It didn't take long to realize that Ridgeview Nursing home in Jasper was the right choice for us.
The nurses and staff at Ridgeview were remarkable. Mother could be snippy when she didn't feel good, but those caregivers took it in stride and showered her with love and attention. I know this because my sisters and I were there almost every day. I am humbled by the caring and kindness they showed to my mom and our family throughout her stay there.
My cousin Bruce Levan spoke at the funeral and I'm not sure how he got through it. He lived with us for a time when his parents moved up north to find work.
He described my mom as a weaver who, through her work raising her family, her service in the community and work in the church, wove a kind of tapestry that will live forever.
I smiled when he said those words because they fit my mother like a glove.