It will be four years ago this August that my brothers and our stepfather were walked into a hospital chapel and told expectations that our mother would probably last no more than a week. I doubt we would have wagered more than 24 hours because we had taken turns sitting bedside with her and had witnessed many times through the night her struggle, wondering if at any moment she was about to re-join her sister, perhaps playing around fields of western Mississippi as they had in their youth. She also had a brother who had died in a drowning accident at just 16 when a storm came up and capsized a small boat on a large lake as he and an older man were trying to save people attending a church picnic. His name was Will.
For about three consecutive days following weeks of going downhill like a runaway locomotive, Mama just wasn’t in a good place. During a rare few minutes if clarity, she talked with me one night about how it was just life and it was just her time.
She was expecting it too, and I guess she was hoping to comfort me, although I couldn’t muster a word without sobbing uncontrollably, so I just say there and looked into her eyes.
As my brothers rejoined our sister in our mother’s room, we -- by default -- elected the oldest to explain to Mama how we were going to be getting home hospice to make things more comfortable for her. The oldest, named Will, was holding her hand as he told her, while the rest watched bedside.
Our mother decided at that moment that she would go on her terms and when she was good and ready. She opened her eyes, looked at my brother, and said, “No. I’m not ready.”
I felt several eyes glance over at me as if to ask, ‘Didn’t she tell you she was ready?’
Well, she had, but I guess she hadn’t given a specific time.
Since the fall of 2015, my mother has traveled overseas, ridden across the country with our stepfather, and is in better shape than many people half of her 86 years of age.
Maybe she was preparing me for the future, knowing that I would have already been ready – well, kind of – once for her no longer being a phone call away.
I know almost everyone believes they have or had the most special mother. The great thing about it is that we’re all correct. Your mother was the best she could be for you and mine was the best for me. I wouldn’t trade her for three Princess Dianas, Mother Teresa, or Rick Bragg’s mother in All Over But The Shoutin.’
Four years later, she is still with us and ironically my oldest brother visited her over the weekend for Mother’s Day. I’m sure he held her hand again. I sure wish I could. I will soon.