Silent Reassurance

Silent Reassurance

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom

Silent Reassurance

All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother.
~Abraham Lincoln

Nine years after Mom suffered her stroke, we remained optimistic that she would make a full recovery. Her therapy showed signs of progress, but after a couple of years passed, our optimism was slapped with a challenging reality. Frequent visits to the doctor resulted in a prognosis of progressive dementia and her diabetes was getting worse. We were faced with finding the best possible health care for her. Most of us lived out of town and were not financially able to quit our jobs to provide the care she needed. After exhausting all of our options, we had to make the agonizing decision to admit her to a nearby nursing facility. During our visits, we made a concerted effort to remain positive and upbeat. The mere thought of the atmosphere in the nursing home left us depressed and resulted in endless long distance phone calls to comfort each other.

Another hurdle came when her doctor notified us that gangrene had set in to her left leg and foot. Amputation was the only solution to keep her alive. Knowing that she was not capable of making any coherent decisions, we had to decide what to do. We prayed desperately for a miracle, but realized that her operation was inevitable. My mother always had beautiful legs. Her calves shouted for a pair of stiletto pumps. Seeing the outline of the remaining portion of her leg under the bedspread left me weak, sad and mentally drained. Three months after her operation we had to revisit the same scenario, but this time it was for her right leg. The second amputation was done quickly, but the painful, emotional side effect was no easier to bear.

How did Mom really feel? Was she depressed, bitter or angry? There were so many questions we would never get answers to because she had become nonverbal a couple of years earlier. It will always be a mystery to us what caused her to stop speaking. She managed to display looks when we visited, but we could not decipher them. Was she in pain, lonely, content, disappointed? Was she resentful that we had placed her in a home? That they had taken her legs? We could only manage encouraging smiles, conversations to let her know that she was going to be okay, along with our prayers.

Two months later on the eve of Easter, my sister phoned to tell me that the nursing home was transporting Mom to the hospital. Her blood pressure was becoming dangerously low. Around mid-afternoon on Easter Sunday, my sister updated me on Mom’s condition. Her blood pressure was still dropping. The doctors were trying a different procedure to see if it would help, but it was to no avail. Mom’s breathing became laborious. I went to my bedroom, cried and prayed, asking God not to take her right now. This was probably selfish on my part, but we always called her the comeback kid. Just when things began looking bleak, she would pull through with flying colors. Always! Now, I had to quickly get a grip on myself. This time my spirit felt different. I prayed to God that if the time had arrived for him to take her, I would reluctantly accept it. I did not want my mother to suffer anymore. It was evident that the hour was approaching for Mom to make her transition to another place. I had to let go, and I did.

Mom passed away on the night of Easter. This holiday has now become even more divinely significant for us. As expected, the week of her funeral was challenging, not only for her family, but for everyone who loved her. We were flooded with wonderful memories and reminders of the indelible marks she left behind. Never knowing her thoughts or feelings in her final days will always haunt us. For quite some time we longed to hear her simply say, “I love you” again. As we all sat under the funeral home canopy at the cemetery, with rain pouring down around us, those words we wanted to hear were buried with her body.

A few weeks later while rummaging through my night stand, I came across a couple of letters Mom had written eleven years earlier. One was addressed to me, and the other to my sister and me. Ironically, the letter addressed to my sister and me was a thank you note from her for the Easter cards and gifts we had given her that year. The Easter notation prompted me to sit down on the floor of my bedroom and continue reading. Tears filled my eyes as I finished. She ended it by writing, “I love you all so much, Mom.” I couldn’t believe the words I was actually seeing. After putting that letter down, I couldn’t resist reading the second one addressed to me alone. She wrote how much she appreciated what I had done for her that summer. She ended it with, “Please know that I love you very much, Mom.”

I was overwhelmed by finding these letters. I could tell from the postage stamps that I had read both of them eleven years earlier. After drying my tears, I called my sister and read both letters to her. She was just as stunned as I was. The sweet, comforting words we had wanted to hear our mother speak before she died were communicated to us at the right moment we needed to hear them. It was then that my sister and I found peace. Mom had wrapped her reassuring, heavenly arms around us.

~Kym Gordon Moore

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