Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Letting Go

I am in California this week to attend my mother's funeral.  There is enough negative and sad in the world that I normally only post positive, happy blogs, but today I hope you'll bear with me as I get some of my thoughts written down here.

(Marilyn Anderson, about 1999.  She loved her garden!)

I think I've been fortunate in that I've had very few final farewells to say in my life so far.  But in a strange way, this has made these last few months even more difficult.  How should I say goodbye, what should I expect and what exactly do I say?!

My mother's been ill for a long time and in recent months we moved her into an assisted living facility, then the hospital and a few days ago, hospice.  We wanted a perfect ending for her ~ the most comfortable place, no pain, surrounded by her husband and children, words of comfort, a beautiful goodbye.  We made the most of the situation and did the best we could to let go.

I live in Florida and my mother in California.  Much of what I experienced was long distance, over the phone.  A lot of it was experienced through my sister (the absolute best sister in the world; she lives in CA too) Pamela; we've been talking on the phone for probably two hours every night for months and months.  Our phone calls have been full of information swapping, worry, regret and sadness, but most importantly, they've been therapeutic in that we were beginning our goodbyes and buoying each other through all of the difficult decisions and ultimately, the inevitable.

I am incredibly greatful for my mother's care takers ~ at the hospital, in her assisted living facility, and at hospice.  Every one of these people was amazingly kind and gentle to our mother and my sister and me.  They patiently answered our questions and explained what was happening.  The hospice people were especially helpful in explaining our mother's unusual behavior.  Turns out, her behavior was very common.  Aggitation (she didn't seem able to get comfortable), confusion (she kept seeming to forget where she was) and excessive sleeping is very common among people who are near death.  And the most unsettling behavior was our mother talking about going on a trip and speaking of our grandmother.  Unsettling to me because I knew my mother was leaving this life soon and at the same time, comforting.  Although I didn't "see" all of this, I knew it as Pamela described it to me and I also experienced it in my father's last days (I was at his bedside the last three days of his life).  It made me feel like there was someone waiting for my parents, to show them the way.

(One of my favorite pictures of my mother ~ like a movie star.  She and her friends were hanging out in the oil fields of Bakersfield.  I think she was about 17 here.)

The doctors told us that although they didn't know for sure, they believed our mother had two days to two weeks.  Hospice talked us through what to expect and suggested that if we hadn't already, we soon wrap up anything unsaid.  They suggested we listen very carefully to what our mother was saying and follow her lead.  When she began to talk about her trip, we said it was OK for her to leave and that we would be alright without her.  We repeatedly reminded her that we loved her.  I told her that God was keeping her and us in his care.

With hospice's advice, I felt comfortable letting go of my fear and anxiety so that I could let her go.  Wow, this really brought me new insight into my own capacity for love and caring.  It intensified my already incredible bond with my sister, and brought me a whole new level of respect for the medical and hospice staff.

My mother was a gift.  Her death was a gift too.  She's free of pain.  And I found a deep grace, patience and charity I didn't know I had.  I am terribly sad but at the same time I will be OK.  I found this quote and it feels perfect right now:

"Man's feelings are always purest and most glowing in the hour of meeting and of farewell."  ~Jean Paul Richter

(My favorite picture of us kids with our mother.  My brother Donnie.  Pam's in the front.)

I promise to get back to my regularly scheduled blogging of fun and happiness on Thursday!  Retro Rita's got a new interview for you and a WONDERFUL August blog giveaway!

26 comments:

Kim said...

Cindy,
Don't feel bad about posting unhappy things. It's your blog and you are certainly entitled. Thank you for sharing about your mother. Love the glamour shot. I pray comfort for you and your family as you say goodbye.

Jingle said...

I am so sorry for your loss! Your love for your family is wonderful!

carrie said...

Beautiful post. Made me cry. Your love and compassion are beautiful. Thank you for sharing this. You and your family are in my thoughts.

Julie Harward said...

I am so glad you shared this...your mom was so gorgeous! I have been there and understand, with my mom (she kept talking about my dad being there and him wanting her to go with him) I too know that others from Heaven come to help the earthly person on their way. Two of my brothers passed away from cancer, one of them said to me, as I stood by his bedside and he kept looking around me, I asked him what he was looking st and he said.."those men over there"..like I could see them too. My sister has just been told that she is full of cancer and has very little time left. Life goes on across the veil we call death, it goes on with our loved ones there...families are forever! Sending you my hugs..:D

Mary said...

Cindy, I'm so sorry about your Mom. Hospice is amazing. I know your heart is heavy. Know you have many friends who are thinking of you and are praying for you. (((HUGS)))

Betty Lou said...

Such a beautiful post with wonderful loving memories of your mother. You are a living tribute to your mother and I am sure she was so proud of all her children. My own mother passed away unexpectedly when I was ten and not a day goes by that I don't think of her. You are were blessed to be able to say good-by. You are in my prayers.

My Vintage Mending said...

I am so sorry for your loss. What a wonderful story of her final days. Thank you for sharing. My husband is a physician for older people and I truly do not know how he deals with the ongoing cycle of life. Somehow knowing the comfort of hospice and staff and his deep faith keeps him going. Our pastor recently told us that going home to heaven is comforting in knowing you will once again be seated at the holiday dinner table sharing a meal with relatives you haven't seen in years. Your mother is a beautiful woman with two incredible daughters. Hugs...Renee

Laura said...

I'm so sorry...
I just passed the one year anniversary of my mom's death.
Don't worry about posting sad things sometimes...that's part of your life.
(((hugs))) to you.

Cindy said...

Awww Cindy...Honey I am so sorry for her passing. Yet I know...you know it was her time to go home. My day is still coming with my parents. It does give you a peace to know they knew God and we will see them again someday.

I am so glad your sister and you are close. This will be a real blessing in the future days and weeks to come. Your mom was breath taking in her looks. She does look like a movie star. Now I know where you get your looks from!! Did your hubbie get to go with you? I hope so!!

See you when you get back to the neighborhood. And never apologize for sharing things like this!!!We love you girl and we need to learn to share and pray for each other!!!

Hugs Cindy from Rick-Rack and Gingham

Sizzle and Zoom said...

Very moving post. It brought me to tears. I lost my mother awhile back. It's hard. I miss her to this day.

Sandy said...

I am so sorry to hear of your loss....I also just loss a man who was my dearest friend....we were with him ( my husband and me) right up to his final breath, a request from Scott himself....As the days go by, it gets a little easier...but I know the ones left behind have a lifetime of missing the person in front of them...please know that I am thinking of you and your family. We also had hospice for Scott, and what angels on earth!!!! God Bless them all... Sandy @ 521 Lake Street

Paula Parrish said...

Dearest Cindy,
Ah, my eyes are filled with tears for the deep loss of your dear Mom. May your heart be filled with peace and love that only a Mom could give a child.
Love, Paula

Recycled Relix said...

Your post was beautiful as were the photo's - all best to you Cindy

donna said...

Oh Cindy I am so sorry for your loss. Your mother is so beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Know that I am thinking about you and you and your family will be in my prayers.
Hugs
donna

Nettie's Blog said...

My father has been diagnosed with lung cancer (the silent killer that has a deadly hold before they find it..a secondary cancer ..he had his bowel removed two years ago) so he is dying ...at the moment he is fading slowly...my mother died of a massive heart attack at 55 twenty seven years ago ...i see him every second day and i am noticing the changes even though he is still very alert and with it....Thank you for your post ...i am comforted to know that what i am experiencing is Normal ..well as normal as watching a loved one leave you when you want them to stay forever...but i know we will be together again ...

Sue@CountryPleasures said...

I'm so sorry!! I too lost my Mom some years ago, and I lived far away, that time is gone. But, your beautiful Mom will always be with you, honor her in a sweet way and keep her memory alive. Take your time. Hugs!!

LaDonna and Diana said...

I read your blog right after you posted it, but I couldn't respond. Very emotional. I understand wanting to keep things happy, but I have learned that blogging friends deserve all of you, happy and unhappy. I am so sorry for the loss of your mother. She had a lovely smile, such an expression of joy that she has passed on to you. God bless you and your family.

LaDonna

Jenny's Heart said...

That was a beautiful post Cindy. It's YOUR blog and you post what ever you feel is right. Happy or sad. I am so sorry for your loss, but I am glad you were able to say good bye.

Retro Farm Wife said...

Dear Cindy, I am very sorry for this pain of losing your precious mother. ~Angela

Holly- Girls At Heart said...

Hugs to you my dear! ♥

Getting Hooked said...

Cindy,
You are in my thoughts and prayers.
Teresa

Jessica said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your loss, but happy that your mother is not longer suffering. Praying for God to bring you peace and healing!

Jessica

laurel said...

Thank you for sharing so much. Hugs.

blessedmom's simple home said...

I've been mostly offline this summer, so I just read your post. I wanted to stop by and thank you for the wonderful shower cap you sent. So sorry for your loss Cindy. This was a beautiful tribute to your mom, and your love for her shines through.
I'll be praying for you.
Blessings,
Marcia

PBsArtStudio said...

Oh, Cindy I scrolled down your blog to catch up a little on you and I find what you have been going through! i am so sorry... You're such a strong woman, I had no idea!! I have been there too. My mom passed away 5 years ago! I know how hard it is. but if one thing will console you, our loved ones live on in us. I feel my mother everyday, her love and warm kisses on my cheek feel so fresh and I know she is waiting for me and someday I will see her again. I will pray for you although I feel such a peace within you! Your Mother is beautiful just like you! big hugs to you Patti

chrisartist said...

Cindy I've only just found this post.
I'm sorry for your
Loss.
We live on different sides of the planet, yet these experiences are the same the world over.
Take care Cindy. It takes a long time to come to grips with the loss of your Mother.
Chris xx