Saturday, August 31, 2013

“Death ends a life, not a relationship.” ― Mitch Albom

My mother, at 98, is not doing very well.  Hospice has been called in.  My father died ten years ago, and I really didn't think she would live much longer than he did, but she fooled us all.  She was able to stay with my sister for several years before she had to go to a home.  My sister, Penny, has taken excellent care of her visiting every day, sometimes twice a day and doing all the logistical and financial stuff that is also required.  The rest of the family has been great as well.  My younger brother, Rob, who is a tenured professor of business at the University of Memphis, drives over once or twice a month to visit Mom and to visit with Penny (and to fix all the computer stuff because he's good at that).  My older brother, Joe, and his wife, Mary Jane, also visit more than once a month to let Penny have breaks and go on mini-vacations.  Mary Jane has been an angel when it comes to visiting Mom and doing what needs to be done.  When I was in the U.S. in April, becoming a distinguished alumnus of Boston University School of Theology and the main speaker at the Global Center for Christianity and Mission, my Aunt Kitty provided the funds for me to fly to Arkansas to see my family--probably the last time we would all be together.  The picture on the right was taken at the nursing home and Mom was having one of her good days which are few and far between.  I find myself grieving in advance of her death which may be in a few weeks or a few months, or maybe she'll surprise us all and make it past 100.  Part of my grief comes from the fact that I cannot be there.  I was with my father the month before he passed and was with him the day he died.  I won't be able to do that for my Mom or to be there for my brothers, sister, and sister-in-law.  I knew when we came to Africa this would happen and my mother actually told me she would be mad if I spent the money to come back for her funeral.  She has told me on more than one occasion over the past few years how proud she is that I am where I am and doing what I do.  That doesn't ease my pain.  We are surrounded by death here and somehow I thought that with so much death happening to so many people it wouldn't be as bad.  It is.  There is nothing to ease the grief of the loss of a loved one.  Time makes it more manageable, but it never goes away.  My mother was a wonderful woman who fought against segregation and even fought for the vote for women.  Carrie Nation once visited her and gave her a little hatchet pin to wear to support the temperance movement.  I have seen her only briefly in the last eight years, about three times, but her influence on me will be with me till I die.  I will miss her.  We have a church here named after her in Mugango, but it is in my heart that her name will remain forever.  Go in peace, Mom.

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