My mom passed away 15 years ago today. I wasn’t paying attention and suddenly the date hit me like a sledgehammer.
I had a dream where she and one of my sisters were walking out of a restaurant. They kept walking even after I called and begged them to come back, not to leave me alone. Mom kept going, never turning around. Strange and unlike her. Then hours later I realized the day. Oh yeah. THAT day. The day I became half an orphan. (The other shoe would drop six months later.)
Lung cancer and pneumonia claimed her a few years after she’d quit smoking. My eldest son had lectured her straight from his elementary school drug curriculum about the dangers of cigarettes. She’d smoked sixty-one years. By the time Mom saw a doctor about a persistent nasty cough, cancer had nestled fatally into the cells of her lungs. The oncologist wanted to treat it aggressively, but Mom said no.
She called me with the news one Sunday afternoon and was matter of fact about it. I cried a lot while she was calm and comforting. No radiation, no chemo, and if hospitalized, a DNR. She said her insurance would take care of everything and allow a dignified death at home. If only it had worked out that way. $20,000 extended care at home insurance proved to be a disaster in logistics, care, and payouts.
Then the dream this morning brought the loss of my mother fresh again.
I’m nearly sixty, too young in my heart to be motherless, yet here I am.
I picture my Mom in Heaven, guzzling “toddies” with an ex-flapper cousin, Cecil Dale, Cecil Dale’s beau, A.G., a herd of cats, dogs, and birds. Who else is up there whooping it up in an eternal Happy Hour? Mom’s probably driving my grandparents and her only sibling crazy like she did in real life. Or maybe they understand her now. Maybe Papaw’s having a toddy too, right under the nose of my teetotaling grandmother.
One thing is for sure. As long as I draw a breath and remember, those who’ve passed away are as much a part of me as they were in life. I was partly woven from my mom’s DNA. She carried me for nine months, and afterward in her heart and mind. Death can’t take that away.
I love and miss you, Mom. Say hi to Mamaw, Papaw, Cecil Dale, and A.G.
With love forever,
Your baby girl.