Mother’s Day just passed and when all the kindnesses were over I thought about how much I miss my own mom. I would love to sit down with her and just talk again. We had a lot of conversations in our times but I feel confident that if I could have one more it would be different now.
I remember my mom saying her feet ached. I had little concern because at the age I was, pain was a fleeting thing. But now that my own hips ache, I wish I could tell her “I understand”. I don’t think that we understand the extent of pain in old age until we begin to reach it. I’m sure the hard working woman that she was endured pain that she didn’t complain about.
Mom was feisty. I remember my mom and dad having an argument and dad going around closing the windows so the neighbors wouldn’t hear. Mom went right behind him, reopening the windows and saying she didn’t care what the neighbors heard.
Mom had little tolerance for ineptness in people. She would fly off the handle and begin a long tirade of Italian that she would tell us never to repeat. Whenever my sisters and I catch ourselves being impatient, we will say, “Susie came to visit today” because truly our temperament came from her example in this. It took all of us years to unlearn the behavior as born-again Christians. And even Susie became patient after the Lord saved her at 73 years, just after my dad passed away.
Mom was a great cook. There was never a meal that didn’t include a salad and dessert. She would try new recipes all the time. She liked to experiment with different foods she had not yet tasted. But if you remember the schedule she kept from other posts, you won’t be surprised at the following:
Mom would be in the door only moments before dad sometimes and she would cut up an onion and place it in the bottom of a pan with olive oil and cook them until tender. I’m sure that was intentional. The entire house would smell like a great meal was on the way. Then, instead of the tomato paste, canned tomatoes and the rest, she would open 2 jars of Ragu Spaghetti Sauce and dump them in along with some water. She would make meatballs with frozen basil that she kept in the freezer. She added spices and other herbs and bread soaked in milk. These she would mix into the ground meat and then float them gently in the sauce until they were cooked. She would put a pound of pasta in a pot of boiling water. She made a salad and pulled out some sort of pastry she had purchased and in about 45 minutes we had a meal that looked like she had been in the kitchen all day! Dad gave her the nick-name “The 100 mile an hour cook” and I think he was right. She did quick meals way before Rachel Ray made them popular.
Their marriage endured so much. But after five children and a lot of forgiveness on their part we all remember fondly the long talks we did have. We talked together at dinner. There was a lot of teaching and learning that went on around the dinner table. There was a pot of coffee on all the time. Guests arrived at all hours and they would entertain, always having coffee and some left-over dessert to serve.
My mom and dad loved each other so much. But it wasn’t the kind of love you imagined from television in the day. It was a gritty, enduring thing that was displayed most distinctly as my dad was passing away. Mom told dad that he was not supposed to die first. That she didn’t think that she could live this life without him. But as she watched him suffer with cancer, she finally told him, “Angelo, it’s okay if you die. I don’t want to see you suffer any more. I will be okay.” Two days later he passed away with the comfort of knowing that she had said she would be okay.
A recent illness I endured reminded me of my mom’s eyes when she was in the hospital in the last few years of her life. My dad had already passed on and she was alone. She had an extremely high blood sugar level and she was very sick. I went into the emergency room and she looked at me with the most frightened and sad look in her eyes that I had ever seen.
I know that the fact that Jimmy, Debbie, and I were there with her comforted her. I don’t remember what we said but I remember that it was the beginning of her last days.
She needed the help that we could not give her. So she moved back to our home town again and was in a home for senior citizens nearer to our older sisters. Margie and Jojo were so kind. They managed all the events in her life with care. Making trips to her home and bringing her to buy groceries. They took her to visit their homes at times when it was very difficult. Later when she had to be in a care facility, they visited her and covered the problems she endured with loving care.
I would call her once a week to talk to her and pray with her. We would read the “Daily Bread” together. Debbie bought her a large print Bible that she would read as long as she could and I know that she certainly trusted in the Lord.
My last phone call to her is God’s gift to me. It was a Friday. I called her and told her that Michael and Gracie and I were coming to visit her on Wednesday. She paused for a long time. I almost thought that she hadn’t heard me. Then she said, “Wednesday?” I replied happily, “Yes”.
There was another long pause and she said, “You’d better hurry.”
I had a long conversation that day. She told me that she prayed for Marvin and I and Michael and Sara and their daughter every night. She didn’t know yet that there would be so many more. We closed the conversation as she said, “God bless you, Linda. I love you.”
She went into a coma on Friday afternoon and passed away on Sunday morning.
I worried about whether she had truly been saved for only a little while.
On Sunday morning, I was at church and it was before the second service began. I didn’t know that my mom had passed away. Two friends were talking and I asked them if they would pray for my mom as she was dying. They asked if she knew the Lord and I answered, “Yes”.
They quoted a verse that I will never forget.
After we prayed, I received a call from Jojo that our mom had passed away. I sat in the Atrium at church and prayed alone. “Please Lord, would you show me something to help me trust that my mom is okay?” Then I opened my Bible and it fell open to a page. I pointed to a highlighted verse. It was the very same verse that my friends had quoted! This is the passage from which it comes:
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. ~1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
My mom taught me so much. I remember many more stories that I may or may not publish. She was really something. I will love her forever and I look forward to our next conversation. I bet it will certainly be different from any other.