One of my earliest memories is of sitting on the overstuffed chair by the picture window, watching my parents and my Nana walk out to the car and wanting to go with them. They were going to my Great-Aunt Nora’s funeral, but I think I only knew they were going to see Aunt Nora and I wanted to go too. I told my sister about this memory once and she said she couldn’t even remember Aunt Nora.
My mother told me, years later when I was asking about that memory, that she used to bring me along on visits to her mother’s sister. We’d go over and pick up Nana, then go to Nora’s where the grown-ups would have tea at the kitchen table. I don’t know what I did. Mom said she didn’t remember what I did either, so I must have been good.
I got to go on this adventure because, as the youngest in the family, I was the last to start school. So, my siblings would all troop off in the morning and for the only time in my life, I had my mother all to myself.
A few weeks ago, I took my mother to the doctor’s visit that would start her last days. Her kidneys were not working at all; she needed dialysis. I left her at the hospital on a Sunday night, expecting to see her ready for dialysis prep in the morning but when I got there I found out she had refused the procedure and asked to go home. We knew, without the procedure, she would die. She knew too. We took her home.
My sisters and I stayed with Mom that week. We all found places around the house to sleep; someone was always with her, watching her favorite Westerns. Within 12 hours she was unresponsive. On Thursday afternoon, she died.
I was sitting on the loveseat by the picture window, waiting for the funeral director to arrive when I thought of that morning wanting to go see Aunt Nora. We lose so many people from our lives. I thought about those trips my mother said we took to her house. Mom and Nana were making the time to spend with someone important who they knew would not be with them much longer. They made sure she knew they loved her by brewing tea and talking. At the same time, they filled their own hearts with her love, strengthening them for the time she would no longer be there.
I’ve known all year that each holiday could be our last with Mom. My children are old enough to remember the visits every Sunday morning, and for that, I’m grateful. Those memories are strength. My mother knew we loved her because we brewed tea and talked; but we knew love just through her presence.
I miss my mother terribly. I feel like that little girl, looking out the picture window, crying as her mother goes without her.
My brothers and sisters have all said she is up in Heaven now with our Dad, holding hands again. I hope she can also pop in on Aunt Nora for a cup of tea. Nana will be there, too. And, in my heart, I am there with them.