Hugging Mama

This week marks nine months since Mama went Home to Jesus. I miss her so much. It feels like anything and everything can remind me of her. Maybe because she’s never far from my thoughts.

I just want to feel her close to me again. I know aromas can bring you back in time, but Mom didn’t use perfume, so I wonder if scrubbing the bathroom with Comet and Lysol would bring a sense of her presence. Do they even make that original liquid extra strength Lysol anymore?

Baking is another idea that comes to mind. But I’ve been using Mama’s recipes ever since I got married, so the memories they evoke aren’t just mama related now. They are a sweet mix of history, and growing children, and family parties past and present.

I just want to hug mom. I just want a big, long, warm hug of her soft motherliness. I picture a memory I have from five years ago that is so vivid I can almost feel it, and it brings back a glow of joy…

When I went to visit Mom and Dad today, their front door was locked. Mom tried to unlock it on the inside, while I used my key on the outside. When I finally got the door open and walked in, Mom’s face lit up with such delight and she wrapped her arms around me to give me a hug. Even though she struggled to remember my name, the sweetness of her smile and hug is still warming my heart.

Oh how I’d love that hug right now!

And it makes me think how Mom must have been welcomed into Paradise. Imagine the hug her own mama gave her! And the hugs of brothers, friends, a sister and others that have gone on ahead of her! And I can picture Jesus hugging her, too!

It also reminds me of the verse, “Look! I stand at the door and knock! If you hear My voice and open the door, I will come in…” Rev. 3:20.

Jesus not only knows all of our names, He even knows the number of hairs on our heads. Imagine the warmth and delight of His love, when one of His children opens the door of their life to Him!

And what a merciful comfort to know that someday I will hug my precious mama again.

Meanwhile, I do have some Comet, and my bathroom could use a good scrubbing. Maybe it’s worth a try…

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Mama’s First Birthday With Jesus

Mama’s first birthday in heaven is coming up in a couple days. I know it will be amazing for her! Back here on earth, I’m struggling and feeling emotional. These holidays seem to pull me from what I’ll call “adjusted mourning” back into deep mourning. I’m not crying, but I feel like it almost constantly.

I decided to spend some time on Ancestry.Com, to honor Mama and our heritage. So I’ve spent some hours delving into the past, learning things about great-great-great grandparents…imagining what life must have been like then. It intrigues me to think of this chain of people that were crucial to Mama being born. And to me being here now.

The DNA of people I’ve never met, are woven into who we are. I wonder how many of them Mama is meeting for the first time in heaven. I wonder how many of them knew Jesus and trusted in Him.

This will be my first time ever not celebrating Mama’s birthday with her. The last few years our celebrations have been “interesting”. I still smile when I think of the one in 2014…

I baked a cake for Mom and brought it to her house. She sat with me and I asked, “How’s my Mama?”
Mom answered, “I don’t know. I didn’t ask her. Ask her… Esther? Where’s Esther?”

She started shouting, “ESTHER!” (As far as I know Mom has never known an Esther.) Mom shouted, “CRAZY PEOPLE!” Then she started singing random words. 

“Mom,” I said, “It’s your birthday.”
“It is?”
“Yes… You’re 81.”
“Eighty-one?” She said some words I didn’t understand and ended with, “It’s possible.”

I started singing, “Happy Birthday to you…”
Mom shouted, “ME! NOT YOU!”
I started singing again, “Happy birthday to you…”
And Mom sang the next line in rhythm, “…said somebody but you don’t know who….” And we both started laughing. 
I started singing again, “Happy Birthday…”
And Mom jumped in with, “…to me, Happy Birthday to Nina Fay….” And then she kept singing but with different words and melody, “What a wonderful day…oh what a wonderful day…”

I wrote her name down for her and she said that it looked right. Then she suddenly burst out singing, “What a friend we have in Jesus…” and sang the whole chorus word for word!

We gathered around the kitchen table to have her blow her candles out. Dad says birthday candles have always been important to her, but she didn’t want to be at the table and she didn’t know how to blow out the candles. He kept trying to talk her into it.
Finally I said, “Mom, look at me, I’m going to blow out one candle and you blow out the other.” As she saw me blowing, I think it reminded her how to do it and she also blew one out. Hurrah!

She ate her cake, but was agitated and restless and wanted to leave the table. At one point she shouted, “Go home!”
“Do you want me to go home?” I asked.
Mom cleverly answers, “That’s a good way to get there.”

 

Oh, Mama! I never knew what I’d get from her in those years. But she made me laugh and cry and love her more. And I just miss her now.

I don’t know what I’ll do this year without her on her birthday. I’m thinking I may bake her a cake and bring it over to Daddy. I’m guessing I’ll cry, since I am right now just thinking about it.

But I can also rejoice. Because I know Mama will be having her best birthday ever, with her friend Jesus. And I can imaging many of these ancestors I’m researching now are gathering around her and finding out how warm and fun and sweet Mama is. And they are laughing with her and loving her more and more.

And for her it will be a wonderful day. Oh, what a wonderful day!

“And Jesus replied, ‘I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.'”

Luke 23:43 (NLT)

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Mourning Mercies

The other day I went to Culver’s to pick up lunch. At the drive thru window I saw a young African American man that has worked there for many years. He gave me a bright smile and asked, “How are you?”

“Im fine,” I said, as I smiled and handed him some cash.

“How’s your mom and dad?”

“Mom passed away,” I said. He looked sad as he took my money and turned to the cash register. “Mom passed away, ” I repeated, and I tried to smile a bit, to show him it was okay to ask. And that I was okay. He nodded sadly as he handed me my change, and drink.

I pulled ahead to wait for my order. And the heaviness of mourning came over me. My thoughts flashed back to the past, when Mom was still able to get out, and every Tuesday I took her and Dad to Culver’s, and Dad bought us all lunch. I remembered sitting in the booth across from them, as they sat shoulder to shoulder. I thought of the managers who got to know us because of our frequent visits, and who were so friendly and kind.

I remembered how whenever Mom got up to use the restroom, or when it was time to leave, if there were any little children or babies around she would stop to talk to them. And I would wonder what the parents thought, as they smiled. Sometimes Mama would point her cane right at a little one’s face to tease them. Then I would apologize for Mama and draw her away.

There was something sweet about sitting in a booth with Mom and Dad. I’d run to refill their sodas. I’d order frozen custard cones when we were done with our meals.

Eventually it became too hard to take Mom out. I’d bring food home instead. And the managers and some of the staff at Culver’s would ask how Mom and Dad were doing. It was nice that they were known and thought of fondly.

Because so many of the people who have offered sympathy to me over the past few months never knew my mama. I’m so grateful for the love and concern they’ve expressed to me over my loss. I know it’s heartfelt and real.

But there is a special comfort in hearing from those who actually knew my precious Mama. Most of her friends have already passed on or moved away, and our extended family all live far away. When a former neighbor, who had moved out of state decades ago, heard about Mom’s death she sent a sympathy card. She shared memories and kind words about Mom that touched my heart. And I felt compelled to send her a program from the memorial service and a copy of the eulogy I had written.

I feel drawn to those who knew Mama, especially those of her own generation, when she was full of life and health. Like somehow if I connect with them I’m closer to Mom again.

But Mom’s best friends went Home  before her. And I picture them now welcoming her in heaven with hearty hugs and big smiles. I can see them sitting around a table, shoulder to shoulder, sipping tea and sharing stories and laughing.

And so I can smile, even though it’s often through tears these days. And I’m thankful for the friendly young man who asked about Mom and Dad at Culver’s. Even though he didn’t know what to say, I could tell he cared.

And there is a gentle mercy in knowing Mama is remembered.

 

 

 

We Have a Brother Here

I remember several years ago, I was visiting my Mom and Dad one day. One of my brothers walked by and Mom asked, “Is that Raymon?” (My dad and her husband.)

“No, Mom. That’s my brother.”

“Oh!” Mom said, seeming sincerely delighted, “We have a brother here?”

I chuckled at the time, sad that she didn’t recognize her own son, yet smiling at her enthusiasm about having a brother with us. She grew up with eight brothers herself, and then blessed me with three.

I was thinking about this today. It comforts me, as I miss Mama more and more, to remind myself that she is peaceful and happy with Jesus. She is with our Brother. The best Brother ever. Our Brother and High Priest who laid down His life to take the punishment for our sins, so that all who believe in Him can live with Him forever.

And our Abba Father is watching over her. He is taking care of her. Mama is surrounded by joy and peace and love in paradise.

It helps to remember these things, when the tears take over and keep leaking out. And when my heart aches and I miss my sweet mama. Mama is in the very presence of Jesus. And He loves her and cherishes her!

And He is with me, too. “…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) He promised.

We both have our Brother. And we can both take delight in His comforting presence!

“We also know that the Son did not come to help the angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. Therefore it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.” Hebrews 2: 16 – 18 (NLT)

Mama has our Brother with her. And He is with us, too. Always.

We have a Brother here!

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There Will be a Somewhere

I found another treasure when I was cleaning the top of Mom’s dresser. I don’t know where she finds the little things she leaves there, but I’m often surprised by items I haven’t seen in years. And this one brings me to tears.

I remember typing it up for Dad about five years ago. The print is large, because his eyesight was weakening but still strong enough to read large type back then. Mom’s mind was stronger then, too, but we knew we were dealing with Alzheimer’s.

Dad plays a little bit of keyboard by ear and he’d been playing a song back then that he thought was pretty.  And he was trying to remember the words. So I typed up the lyrics to Dr. Zhivago’s  “Somewhere My Love” written by Maurice Jarre. I thought the lyrics were beautiful at the time. Now I find them so touching they make me ache.

And as I read these lyrics now, I think of how Dad spends his day taking care of Mom. And I think of how often each day Mom looks at Dad and asks, “Who are you?”

And how Dad patiently and repeatedly replies, “I’m Raymon.” Or “I’m your sweetheart. Or “I’m the man who loves you…”

 

“Somewhere, my love, there will be songs to sing…Although the snow covers the hope of spring.

Somewhere a hill…blossoms in green and gold…and there are dreams…all that your heart can hold.

Someday…we’ll meet again, my love…Someday whenever the spring breaks through.

You’ll come to me…out of the long ago, warm as the wind, soft as the kiss of snow.

Till then, my sweet…think of me now and then.  God, speed my love ‘til you are mine again.”

 

And I’m so very grateful that both of my parents know Jesus and love Him.  And that because of that there truly is a “somewhere” in their future. Thank You, Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Can’t Throw Away the Calendar From 1978

I  was cleaning my closet a while back, and found a box of photos and odds and ends I’d rescued from Dad before he threw it away. Much of it I did end up tossing—old maps, unidentified photos of people I didn’t recognize, etc. But I keep looking at the calendar from 1978, and I can’t bring myself to throw it out. It’s covered with little notes of things that happened that year and reminders of birthdays and appointments.  It’s a time capsule, taking me back to that year when I was a senior in high school, and I had a brother in grade school, another in junior high, and an older one who had just become a daddy himself.

It reminds me of the mama I had…the one who was a room-mother, who was driving kids to church, sewing and upholstering for people, meeting friends for lunch, and taking kids to the dentist, the doctor, and even the hospital. It shows the mama that was babysitting her first grandson, the same year that she took a bus to Louisiana to sit by her own dying daddy. Such a loving, capable mama who was so easy to take for granted.

It reminds me to look at my own calendar, and contemplate how I am using my days.  While I have the health and strength and mind, am I using my days in the most valuable ways? While I still have some of my children at home, and all of them close by, am I making the most of our time together?  While my parents are still living, am I taking every opportunity to show them love and gratitude? Am I filling my days with God’s purpose for me?

“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12