First blogged January, 2010
My mother passed away several months ago and it has taken me this long to write about it. She was the most wonderful mother in the whole world, (and I am not just saying that because that is what one is expected to say about their deceased mother.) In addition to being kind and loving, she was also very spiritual.
I remember when I was four years old and we lived in Opalaka, Florida, right behind the Hialeah Race Track. We had a cement swimming pool in the backyard which my father built, and next to it was a palm tree my mother had planted crooked so it was growing sideways. I had a green parakeet whose name I certainly don’t remember, and I loved watching Howdy Doody and Captain Kangaroo on our little black and white tv with the rabbit ears antenna. My brother was born one day in March, and life suddenly changed for our family. My brother was born with serious disabilities due to Rubella Syndrome, (supposedly my mother had been exposed to someone with German Measles.) With a cleft palate, he could not nurse or drink from a bottle, so he was fed by a large eye dropper. He could not such on a pacifier and he cried constantly. He was blind and deaf and was obviously going to be severely developmentally delayed. My joyful childhood was suddenly overshadowed by a sadness of which I had never seen from my mother. I would witness her throw herself across her bed and sob. A deep sadness enveloped our family. I looked at my little brother, who looked so innocent and little to cause such a fuss.
One day, when the sun was shining brightly and Curtis was asleep, my mother called to me to come sit in the rocking chair with her. She squeezed me and held onto me tightly, rocking and crying. It was a different kind of crying, though. A happy cry, if I could describe it as such. From that day on, the gloom lifted from our house and I went back to living my happy childhood with my new baby brother.
Many years later, when I was a young teenager, my mother shared her experience of what happened to her that very day. The doctors had been encouraging her to put my brother “away”, institutionalize him as was the custom in those days. “Forget about him,” they said, “You can have another child.” She could not bear to make the thought of doing this. Then, on that sunny day while rocking in her chair, she told me she was visited by an Angel, a beautiful, bright white Angel. She told me she could feel the weight of the Angel’s hand on her shoulder, reassuring her that everything was going to be okay. Although the Angel did not speak, she knew what the message was. She did not have to worry anymore, her son would be fine, and he was. He wasn’t fine in that he suddenly became perfectly healthy, but he was fine in that he has led a happy, fulfilling life. Clearly, she had been touched by something spiritual on that day to turn her torrents of tears into smiles of joy over her new baby.
Several years later, while camping high in the mountains, my mother woke up from her sleep and sat up in her sleeping bag. She was joyous! She told me she had been to see God, whom she described as a bright and beautiful. She said it felt real, not like a dream at all. She was confused as to the experience because it seemed as though she was there to help a friend pass over into heaven. She did not understand because of course her friend was healthy. It was not until we returned home from vacation that she learned that this friend had died from a brain aneurysm on that very night at that very time.
My mother lived a life of great happiness and contentment, always seeing the good in people. Near the end, right before she died, I stayed with her 24 hours a day. When we knew death was near, the nurses let me lie in bed with her and she passed away in my arms. I don’t know what I expected when she died. No…that’s not true…I expected to see some of what she had experienced! I expected to see her pass into heaven! I expected there to be some reaction from her body, some knowledge that her lifetime of spirituality would somehow, through osmosis, pass through to me. But there was nothing. She just stopped breathing. And there was nothing.
It took me a while to accept her death, and I became angry that there was no sign from God that she was with him. Realistically I knew this was silly, but I was hugely disappointed.
Christmas time came soon afterwards. As the parent of 5 children, I had this habit when the children were younger of taking a picture of their sleeping faces on Christmas eve. As they aged, they hated the existence of these pictures! (They were usually sucking on a “binky” at the time and girlfriends and boyfriends who saw the pictures in old photo albums would always go “Awwwwwwwwwwww, how CUTE,” the most mortifying thing that could happen to a teenage macho boy!) This Christmas eve, filled with nostalgia, emptiness and sadness, I again went into each of their bedrooms and gazed at their sleeping faces. I was suddenly filled with a great sense of purpose and contentment, much like the type of contentment my mother might have felt when she felt the Angel’s hand upon her shoulder. These were MY Angels. These were my children who had endured so much when younger, either with their disabilities or with indescribable child abuse. They have not only survived, but they have THRIVED. They are happy and loving and successful and they have bright futures as adults. This is miraculous to me!