My husband and I went out to the cemetery yesterday to visit my mom. It’s always so hard to go visit her, mostly because its like a slap in the face that she is no longer here. The flashes of seeing her at the hospital and then the funeral and walking away from the casket at that very spot with tears running down my face and a hole in my heart stays with me well after I leave the cemetery grounds.
I lost my mother almost a year ago, October 28th 2008. I got the call at 12:30 from my aunt who lived across the street from her that she couldn’t breathe and had passed out and they couldn’t get her to respond. We lived about 40 minutes away and when we arrived at the hospital I ran in to find my little cousin walking towards me with his arms open and tears in his face. I knew she was gone. I collapsed in the arms of a 17 year old high school senior who loved her more then any of his aunts. I could hear my grandma in the chapel hysterical. She was with her when he passed out and was the last one to talk to her and she couldn’t hold her up when she collapsed. I remember all of that just like it was yesterday.
I, as an only child, was left in charge of picking up the pieces after she was gone. Sadly, I do not come from money nor am I made of money and even with the help from some family and friends, arrangements had to be made to cover the funeral expenses. This also means I haven’t been able to get her a headstone yet. It breaks my heart every time I go out there and see the little plastic sign from the funeral home marking her resting place. The cross-stitch heart that was once in the corner is now faded, but her name still stands from the plaque. I shared my thoughts and concerns about starting a family, was I ready would I be a good mother. I said some words, some out loud and others in my head…I knew she could hear them both. My husband just held me as I sobbed and stared down at the ground.
We stopped by a local business that makes memorials on our way out of town. We just wanted to stop and see what we liked and get a number to call and get prices and details and timing. But there was a man, who ended up being the owners father and before we knew, the owner had come over and was talking about what we could do etc. It was so thoughtful of him to come out on a Sunday to talk about this with us. So I decided on a size and color of granite that I thought best fit my mom, something I think she would have chosen if given the choice. We then started talking about what else I wanted on the stone besides the name and dates. I wasn’t really feeling the praying hands or angel wings. But a simple phrase kept popping in my head and I knew that was what I wanted to go with at the bottom of the stone.
A Loving Mother, Daughter and Sister
Those 6 words said so much about who my mom was. I was an only child, although she had several miscarriages and lost a baby and a husband when she and my step-father were in an accident when I was 3. She always thought the world of me and I never remember her yelling at me or telling me I was dumb for something I did or said, even when it probably was clearly evident. She always would acknowledge the small things, like getting a good review at work or losing half a pound a week.
She lived with my Grandma for the last 5 years of her life. They became kind of like the odd couple and best of friends at the same time. They would complain about each other, but then rarely went anyplace without the other. Yin and Yang, Salt and Pepper…Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. My mom would always go to the dr with my grandma and had all her medications and dosages written on a laminated card that she kept in her wallet. She was a nurse before going on disability years ago, so that kinda thing came naturally to her. It was hard to decipher some of the medical code but we figured it out. She would make my grandma dinner and make sure that she ate enough. She would make new things and try recipes and clip coupons to make their budget go as far as it could.
My mom was the oldest of 10 children and loved all of them with her whole heart. She always sent cards and left messages often singing happy birthday to family members. She loved spending time with her nieces and nephews and supported them in all they did, whether it be sports, music or education. She loved to listen to one talk about football practice while giving him a shoulder rub and loved it when another would come over and play his guitar and sing them a song or three. She thought it was wonderful when her littlest nephew would come over and ride his bike in the driveway and they would share knock-knock jokes. She loved her family more then most people even knew. I am sure that there wasn’t a day that went by that she wasn’t worrying about someone or thinking about when she would see them again.
I broke into tears when I tried to tell the man what I wanted to have at the bottom. I had to walk away while my husband talked with him. All the things that those words represented just stuck a pin into my heart, and made me wish it was a year ago. How much my life and attitude towards so many things have changed in a years time. There are so many things that I would do and say and ask her if only I had more time. I wish I could ask her about how her pregnancy with me was or how she knew she would be a good mom. I know she would be one of my biggest cheerleaders on this weight loss journey.
It just sucks sometimes having to make decisions like picking out a headstone or choosing financing options when all you want to do is cry and mourn and wish for more time. But I hope that she will be looking down and be happy with what I chose for her. It is light and warm and makes you remember how loved you felt whenever you heard her voice or listened to her laugh. Oh how I miss all of her.