My Mom Died/Coffee & Cherries
Wow! Two weeks ago today, my Mom died.
I must write about that morning.
I woke up at 5:30 am. Not typical for me. I like to stay up late, and sleep late. That’s my norm. Usually, if I wake early, I’ll read until I go back to sleep. But this particular morning, my eyes were itching from seasonal allergies, so I got up, sat on the couch and put eye drops in both eyes. A thought from the night before popped into my head: “Take Mom some cherries.”
I bought cherries the night before and my first thought was of Mom. When she came to the States (from Switzerland) at age 14, she came to Provo, UT, and cherry orchards. She picked cherries for money, and loved cherries. So, I always think of Mom when I eat cherries.
On Monday morning 2 weeks ago, I decided to meditate, and did for about 30 minutes. Then I thought: “Take Mom some cherries.”
I went out to my back yard and recorded some warm-up qigong exercises for about 30 minutes. I came in, got cleaned up, and went to the store and bought cherries.
I needed to go buy some 1-gallon dripper heads for my flower beds, but the gentle thought kept coming up: “Just take Mom the cherries.”
I really needed to go to a rental house we own, and replace the float valve in the swamp cooler. This was important because I had shut off the water to the cooler the day before, and if the tenants turned on the cooler, it could run out of water and burn up the pump. I had the valve in my truck with me. But, the thought came again: “Just take Mom the cherries.”
I had the thought that I would just swing by the post office, just a few blocks from Mom’s house, and drop off my Netflix movie. But, the ever gentle thought came again: “First, take Mom the cherries.”
So, I unlocked Mom’s door with my key, and walked in and hollered (Mom’s just a little hard of hearing, and she’s always at the back of the house) what I always ask: “Anybody home?”
Mom usually responded with: “Just us chickens.” Then after Dad passed: “Just a little chicken.”
But this morning, she said: “Just this one lonely chicken.”
I thought: “Awwww.” I knew her life wasn’t the same since Dad passed 1 1/2 years earlier.
I gave her a big hug, which was normal, and showed her the cherries. I went to her sink and washed some, and put them into a bowl. She ate one at the sink with me, and said: “Mmmm, these cherries are good! Let’s go sit in the living room.”
I told her how cute she looked in her pjs. She was wearing a sweater I bought her a few years ago, on top of her pajamas.
As we sipped coffee and munched cherries, we spoke of the previous Friday when I had taken her to a funeral of one of her lifelong friends. While at the funeral, another one of Mom’s friends, got up from the funeral, went out to his car, and died! AT THE FUNERAL!! We were trying to wrap our brains around that, and the fact 3 men that she had known ever since marring my Dad and moving here, all died in the same week.
Mom said: “You know, my dad always said that you have to enjoy every day. But it’s more than that, you have to enjoy every moment.”
Then she put another cherry into her mouth: “Mmmm, these cherries are good.”
Then she was gone. I thought she fainted.
I believe she went from my arms to my dad’s.
Yes, I did CPR, (I ran on the ambulance for 22 years), yes, I called 911, yes, they went through the motions, and I promised I would never leave her side. I did leave, but just for the ambulance ride.
I was kneeling on the floor of the emergency room next to the gurney holding her hand. There was a flurry of activity… and I just stood up, and looked at the Dr. and calmly said: “She would hate this.”
And he said: “Stop compressions.”
She had a massive heart attack. She went the way she wanted to… fast.
My brother-in-law had had a dream the week before, in which I found Mom on the floor of the bathroom. Perhaps if I hadn’t meditated that morning, and if I hadn’t listened to that calm little voice: “Just take Mom some cherries”, that’s exactly where I would have found her.
I thought it was unbelievable! I felt picked on, you know, “how could this happen to me”. I mean, I have 3 siblings! Why couldn’t it have been one of them be here when Mom passed?!” It is very traumatizing, or at least it was for me, to see my parents deaths.
I later thought, Mom needed it to be me. I was her primary care giver. Had been for years. She and Dad both lived with me while he died of leukemia. She stayed after because she was in such pain. I took her to both of her back surgeries, which enabled her to move back to her house. If I didn’t go over, I called almost every day. When I went to the store, I called to ask if she needed anything. I took her shopping. She was my best friend since I became an adult. We did so many things together. We were very close. So now I believe, that what happened, was for me. I needed to be there, to hold her one last time, for me. Those thoughts: “just take Mom the cherries” could have been my Dad… so I could be there… for me.
So, Mom enjoyed, or at least tried to enjoy every moment. Even though she was in a lot of pain for the past 20 years of her life from arthritis. She was enjoying the cherries. If I thought before that I couldn’t eat cherries without thinking of Mom…. Wow.
Two days after she died, I was taking some information to the funeral home, and this thought popped into my head: “Elation!” I said: “I’m happy for you Mom, but you’re just going to have to give me a minute. I miss you terribly!”
A good friend of mine said she felt guilty because she didn’t have the same kind of relationship with her mother. I told her it had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with my mother. I can’t even begin to tell you how wonderful my parents were. I was close to them because of the kind of people they were. We all wanted to be around them, because they always treated us like we belonged. From them we received unconditional love. My three siblings and I are very different, but we are loved equally from our parents. When people tell me they feel guilty because they didn’t spend time with their parents, I remind them that if they had more in common with them, they would have. If my parents had been different people, I wouldn’t have wanted to spend as much time with them as I did. It would have been a chore. Instead, they made it fun. We really did enjoy almost every moment. So, instead of trying to be a better child, try to be a better and more fun to be around parent. The key is to lose all judgments.
With my son, I try to be like my mom was to us. Always available.
Thank you to you, this community for allowing me to share. Thank you for your kind thoughts.