Tomorrow, June 19th marks 20 years since the world got a little darker. That was the day Mom officially died. I could say passed on, went to a better place, took the next step in her journey or whatever other polite euphemism people afraid of death use to avoid admitting what happened. That would be to demean who and what she was though.
The last few months of her life were pretty miserable. Bedridden at the end, ravaged by morphine, destroyed by chemotherapy and cancer, she was a shell of her former self.
Before becoming bedridden there was a time when her life consisted of spending the week unable to get out of bed because of the effects of the prior chemo treatment. She would get just strong enough to walk to the car to go get the next one. She hated it. It was hard to watch.
As an aside here...it is no secret how I feel about intentional short hair on a woman or why. But you will seldom if ever hear me comment on it because for all I know the person is suffering from chemo or is shorn in sympathy for someone going through it. It was pretty shattering to Mom when her hair went. It wasn't as if there was anything she could do about it or it made her any less her, but it sure bothered her.
It was just one of many indignities her declining health forced on her. It was an ugly thing. But it was a beautiful thing.
Watching her friends and family come together to comfort her, comfort Dad, comfort the kids...that was a beautiful and memorable thing that I can never properly express my gratitude for.
I will never forgot or stop appreciating the conversation she had with Kenneth D. Barton, maybe 12 or 13 years old at the time, on how he could stand performing an odious but necessary task and hearing his response "It is easy because I love you, Mom." I know how much that meant to her and how much it means to me.
I was blessed to be one of the kids who early on appreciated the wisdom of his parents and thankful I did for she was a true renaissance woman with a vast array of skills.
Oh, I am not one of those people who thinks my Mom was the best cook ever, etc. She did not cook 7 course dinners. But she did cook nutritious, plentiful and varied food on what was often an essentially non-existent budget. She sewed clothes for us for years. She took tole painting with her friends, did calligraphy, had done some medical field stuff, I cannot even put it into words.
Until too many bouts with cancer took their toll she was a very funny, caring and generous woman. I am not blind to some of the changes to her personality after years of torture at the hands of the forefront of medicine. The doctors did the best they could with the knowledge and technology they had but it was still torture and it did change her.
She taught me a lot about life and I miss her still. But I am glad the misery ended for her. The season of pain passed 20 years ago and she went to meet her maker.
Not everything left behind was peaches and cream. It has been a difficult patch of years from time to time. There are cracks in the family that we need to fix. We are working on them. There are life paths altered, sometimes for good and sometimes for ill. In other words, she lived a real life, not an idealized life where she was perfect and her passing taught everyone lessons that healed the world and lived happily ever after.
And I am thankful she did. I am thankful for the joy and thankful for the grief. I am thankful for the lifelong friendships that deepened. I am thankful that daily when I am praying for Doris Allen I am not just thinking of her but also of Jerry Allen, Rocky Allen, Emily, Daniel, Amanda and everyone who cares about them because, while I am not there and living close to them, I know some things they are going through and know Doris needs prayers and encouragement and so do those who love her as so many of us do so deeply. It helps me understand and have compassion that otherwise I am not capable of.
For good or ill, who Mom was and how she lived and died shaped who I am and how I live. Sometimes I am happy for how I represent her. Other times I am ashamed when I know what I am saying or doing is not what she raised me to do. Sometimes it gets me back on the path I should be on.
Do I wish she was here today? Yes and no. Her death opened other doors for new friendships with Dan Loveless, Don Loveless and so forth, and a marriage for Dad and Arlene.
I miss her. I miss her guidance. I miss her smile and the joy she took in simple things. Watching her play Mario Brothers was legendary for her incompetence and the wild swings of her hands as she guided Mario to death after death on the first obstacle. And she would laugh and laugh and laugh and have so much fun. Emily Fethkenher Barton can relate from watching me attempt Ninja Dash with pretty limited success.
I hope her day of judgement has her standing in front of a loving, compassionate God who says well done faithful servant enter my rest.
I hope those of us behind who love and miss her take the valuable lessons she had to offer and use them to make ourselves better people. I hope the hurt goes away from those still hurting and leaves them at peace because that definitely is something she would want.
I miss you Mom but thank you for who you were and who you taught me to be. 20 years is too long to miss someone but not too long to be grateful for the years we had and the help you still are. I will love you forever. Thank you for being you.
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