30: Last Gift

30: Last Gift

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Best Mom Ever!

Last Gift

I cannot say goodbye to those whom I have grown to love, for the memories we have made will last a lifetime, and will never know a goodbye.

~Author Unknown

“Your mom wants to see you right away. She said to bring paper and a pen,” the aide relayed to my sister as she walked into the nursing facility.

“Mom, what is it you want?”

“Write down all that I am saying and read it at my funeral service and not one day before,” my mom instructed.

For the next few weeks Mom shared her thoughts.

I had reservations about Mom’s wishes to have her last words, mostly for her seven children, read at her funeral. I didn’t want to hear something so personal for the first time in a room full of people I didn’t know. But I knew it was what Mom wanted, so I kept silent.

In her final days she was under the care of hospice. The chaplain came to visit. We told him of the incredible legacy she left in her role as a mother, teacher, and friend. We shared how she cared for and was loved by so many. He asked if he could pray with us. Mom had woken up for a few minutes, and he asked, “Is there anything you would like me to pray for?”

Mom pointed to us, her children, and whispered, “All of them.”

A few days later she passed into eternity. Her children, one of her former students, and one of her former co-teachers spoke at her service. We all told stories that inspired the audio/visual person to say to me, “I never knew your mom, but I wish I had. This is the best service that has been held here.”

The last thing on the program was the reading of her final words:

To my friends and students: No greater blessing a woman could have than to have loving, faithful friends and caring students at the end of my life. You all gave me comfort.

To my children: I had the most wonderful kids in the world. I always tried to be a good mom and to make things special for each of you.

Remember walking together to church several miles on Sunday morning? Every night when you were little we said our prayers together. Though times were hard and we were dirt poor, we had laughter and fun. On Easter we would dye eggs with coffee and color them with crayons. One Christmas you kids went out into the fields and picked a tumbleweed for a Christmas tree. We decorated it with silver bells and angels made of cardboard and foil.

There was laughter at the dinner table, especially when I burned the biscuits. I remember you kids riding on my sack when we picked cotton. Your dad would always make sure each of you had a bologna sandwich, a soda, and a cookie to eat. We would earn enough money to go to the fair. Remember the good, forget the bad, and always have love for each other.

To Penny, my oldest daughter: God blessed me with a beautiful brown-eyed angel for my first-born. You were exactly what I ordered. Do you remember me telling you not to buy cheap perfume and not to read True Love magazines? I don’t think you ever did. You were always a pleasant and sweet child and grew up to be a hard worker. I am very proud you have been a good wife and mom. Your dad and I loved it when you came to Redding to see us after we moved. It was like having a party. I could always depend on you. I was always grateful that you could show strength and courage in the middle of a storm.

To Marsha, my second daughter: Your name means war-like. You would come to live up to that name. You were my beautiful blond daughter that would break little boys’ hearts. How were we to know you would grow up to be our protector in our last years of life? At times you had to overcome huge obstacles and yet you endured. Through your weakness you found strength. I hope that you will always be happy that God allowed you to be here, near your mama in her last days.

To Samuel, my first son: Sam was my true warrior. He faced difficult roads and endured until the end with faith and courage in the one who created him. [Sam had died years earlier from cancer.]

To Stephen, my second son: Thank you for treating me like a Great Lady. I always felt special when every Mother’s Day you would bring me a corsage. Through your eyes I could see how much you loved and treasured me. No mother could have a greater blessing.

To Bruce, my number three son: When Bruce was born, he was sweet and special. When he came into the room he would always snuggle up to me and say, “I love you Mom.” Bruce was my gentle giant. [Bruce died tragically at a young age.]

To Philip, my fourth son: You are my most patriotic child. I always believed you could be President one day. During your life I saw your strength and courage grow and watched you use your talents to overcome many difficult situations in life. You became a Godly husband and father. You were a true blessing to your dad and me and to all who are blessed enough to know you.

To Stanley, my youngest: You are my quiet and peace-loving child. A true fisherman. I am happy to be your mother. I am so proud of the man you have become — patient, kind and soft-spoken. As we talked I found you, my son, expressing words of wisdom. I am so proud of you.

My Children, I am honored that God allowed me to be your mom. God was good to me because you all chose to follow Him. You have given your dad and me some beautiful and talented grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren and wonderful sons- and daughters-in-law. Always remember to put your concerns and any problems in God’s hands, He is capable of handling them.

Do not cry for me. I am happy in Heaven with Dad and Sam and Bruce. I will see you all when you get here.

Love,

Mom

Mother’s last words confirmed what I already knew. In her eyes each of her children was special and unique. In her eyes each was her favorite — a child she could not have lived without. With her last words, she released her children to be free and happy. I will tuck away in my heart her last gift to me and the memories of my extraordinary mom.

~Penelope Childers

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