Monday, August 25, 2014

A Mother's Last Words

I write funny letters to my kids on Facebook. They start "Dear Adult Child", "Dear Teenage Son", (there are quite a few of those!)...etc., etc., and go on to state something they have taught me, or some way they have "affected" my life. 

Here's an example:

and another:

Here's the one that really had an effect :

No, he didn't want to "see" that! The belt is now part of his daily attire :) Perhaps I should've said they were notes that threaten my children with public embarrassment, lol! Yeah, I'm a snarky mom, but remember, I've raised a small tribe, and we ARE a large, loud, Italian family (well, my kids like to remind me that I'm NOT Italian, that comes from my husband, lol) :)

I know that I haven't been on here in months. In that time, my life has changed. It is different than it has ever been. You see, this month, I lost the most influential woman in my life. I lost my mom. Yet, God, in His mercy, gave us over a year to prepare for this, over a year to say "Until, we meet you again." Not everyone gets that opportunity. Not everyone gets to have their mom as long as I did. Not everyone gets to feel wanted the way my brother and I did. Not everyone gets to see their parents celebrate 66 years of marriage before saying goodbye to one of them. 
We've been blessed.

My mother lost her mom before my brother and I were born. She was never able to call and ask her mom for advice when raising her own children like I was. Yet, my grandmother's influence has affected my life in many ways. In this past year, my mom spoke often of seeing her again. There was a longing to see her mother. 
I understand it now.

My grandmother wrote a letter to my mom right before she died. She was in the hospital in Missouri, facing surgery the next morning, and wrote a letter to her daughter in California. She didn't survive the surgery. My mom and dad were called, and flew back to be with family. After attending her mother's funeral, she returned home to California and the letter that had arrived while she was gone.

In this letter, my grandmother spoke of general things about her life, this and that, things about my grandfather, just simple things about their simple life....and then she added this:

"I don't have any dread of surgery. I feel if it's my time to be promoted, I'm ready to go. You know, to the Christian, death is "Just Promotion". If the Lord spares me, I feel I'll be beneficial. If not, I'm ready."

The last words of her mother. Could she ever ask for a better gift?

 My mother often spoke of how this letter comforted her. The words of her mother gave her hope that still remained 58 years after she lost her. I found this letter in some of her things. The letter was written on April 12, 1956, the day before she died. Until I saw it, I never knew that the letter that had meant so much to her was written on April 12th. 

That is my anniversary. I was married on April 12th, 1986. Thirty years after the letter was written. My husband and I didn't choose that date for any other reason than convenience. It worked out for us. Yet seeing that date, written in my grandmother's handwriting was special in it's own way. Coincidence? I suppose, but it's a comforting coincidence, nonetheless.

The last few weeks of my mom's life were the hardest for her. She had a stroke and was unable to speak. I had visited her a few days before that last stroke. I'd gone over to 'visit', but actually I'd wanted to get away for a little while from my own 13yo twin boys, who were getting on my last nerve that day. 

I didn't know it would be the last time my mom would be able to speak to me. I didn't know how much her words would mean. I actually lamented to her a little, telling her about how my boys were giving me 'fits', and, being identical, when they wrestled, no one could win, so their wrestling matches went on and on and on, (amongst other things). Her speech had been affected for months by a previous stroke, but she sat up on her bed and she listened, and when she finally spoke, this is what she said:

"You've still got a lot to learn".  

(Um, excuse me mom, but I've got 6 kids. I've been through this with 4 others. You only raised two, and you never had twin boys!)
No, I didn't say that, but I thought it. Yeah, I was a little indignant. I think she saw this. 
She just smiled and said it again.

"You've still got a lot to learn". 

Wow. You know what? She's right. 
I don't even know enough to know how little I know, lol. 

Our lives can be forever affected by words, forever changed by what we say and what is said to us. We are always changing, always learning. My words to my children aren't always what I want them to be. Sometimes they're too harsh, sometimes too thoughtless, sometimes too snarky. I want to convey love, but I fail at times. 
Yes, I still have a lot to learn.

As I turned to leave that day, I kissed her forehead, and said "Mom, I love you."
She replied:
"I know you do...
and I love you too."
Those were the last words ever spoken to me by my mom.
Could I ever ask for a better gift?

I spent many hours with her after that last stroke, when she was unable to speak. She was still imparting lessons to me. She was teaching me how to have grace in adversity.
Without words.
My father taught us all how to love your spouse unconditionally during those weeks and months leading up to her passing. My mother taught us how to gracefully accept that love and help. Their devotion to each other inspired everyone at the assisted living facility. A local article about them, about their devotion to each other, and their marriage of 66 years, written on their anniversary and just days before her passing, received hundreds of responses.

Yes Mom, I still have a lot to learn :)

Thank you for all that you tried to teach me...
and especially for your comfort and your love.


  1. Dear Marcia,
    I'm so sorry about your mom...yes, what a wonderful gift that you were able to have that special time with her. What a sweet time it will be when we get to heaven.
    Hugs and prayers for comfort for you and your family.♥

  2. I am glad that your Mom is home. It is only we who sorrow. Do you know my wedding anniversary is April 12 too? Except we got married in 1980
    We got married because My Mom died when I was 11 so I wanted to honor their wedding anniversary by choosing mine to be close to theirs.
    I am so thankful you had your Mom as long and you did. I know it was hard. Thank you so much for sharing.
    Even though my Mom died September 11,1969 I have never stopped missing her. I loved how your Mom kept her Mom in your lives even though she wasn't there. I have tried to do the same for my kids.
    It sounds like you are busy. I am always so glad to see a post and read about what has been going on in your busy life.
    Thank you,

  3. Hi Marcia,
    I am very sorry for the loss of your mom. My prayers for comfort will be sent out to you and your family. I was crying while reading this! I lost my dad on, Feb. 12, 2013. It is so hard to lose a parent. My mom (and mother-in-law) are aging and going through several health issues. I can relate to your words here so much! Thank you very much for sharing your heart with us. I think God wanted me to know I am not alone in my grief. I am so glad we do have our blessed heavenly hope, and the promise of seeing our loved ones again some day! xoxo...Gloria

  4. Such a beautiful tribute to your mom! And your dad and the wonderful relationship they had. What a great example for you and your kids to follow. So sorry that you are here and missing her. So happy for her that she is free from the pain and frustration that is part of a stroke victims life. Hugs to you and your family, and especially those 13 year old twins! Mimi

  5. Dear Marcia, what an absolutely beautiful, heartfelt, inspiring, genuine post. Of course, you now have me in tears. What a loving, positive role model your grandmother must have been and also your mom. I'm so sorry for your loss, but you are right, you are very fortunate that you had the time to spend with her. When someone is taking suddenly, without notice, it is so much harder to accept. You know that you did everything you could right up until the end and that certainly gives you peace. Nothing in life is by coincidence, is it? Bless you and your family, Tammy

  6. how blessed you are - and such a sweet legacy the mothers in your family have gifted you with, friend.

  7. Oh dear friend, I am SO sorry to hear about your Mom! I know that your heart is heavy but those words and memories will be with you forever! My prayers will be with you and your family, sending a big 'ole HUG your way!

  8. This is cute...
    Hello, I found you over at melanie's blog..
    Blessings Renee

  9. Marcia, I am trying to catch up readying blogs and I so missed this most important post of yours. I am so very, very sorry to know that you lost your precious mom. You are blessed to have been able to prepare for this and to have had the chance to say I love you's. I did not get this chance with my mom, my step dad or my son. So it is God's grace bestowed upon you and your sweet family. Mothers do know best so take her advice seriously. They have walked a long walk that we, as younger women, have not walked for long. Her experience, even with two children, far surpasses ours. I am hoping that you are doing well. And the post about Jordan crawling in took my breath away. He is an amazing young man! Send him my love and to yourself as well.


  10. Hi Marcia,
    Just wanted to drop you a note and let you know I am praying for you today. :) hugs...Gloria

  11. So sorry to hear you lost your Mom. She must have been so special. That was a beautiful tribute to her and your grandmother. You will be that kind of legacy for your girls.
    You are so clever with your little notes. So much more impact than a lecture. I'm going to send a link to my DIL's They may need this someday when their sons are teenagers. Cannot believe those cute little boys are teenagers.
    It was good to catch up with you. I haven't had much time for blogging, but am always rewarded when I come here.

  12. My mother is 87, and your post touched my heart. I'm sorry you have had to say goodbye for a season, but aren't we and others similarly blessed lucky to have had such wonderful moms?


  13. I read this post in tears. Your words truly touched my heart. I am sorry for your loss as I can see it was a great one, but am so happy you got to have so many years with your Mom, and such a lovely relationship.


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