Tuesday, November 22, 2011

a lady always knows when to leave

I wanted to write this post before my mama died, so I could share it with her. But the words never came. Apparently God wasn't finished with me yet. I don't really have a problem with that. By the time she died, she knew I was crazy about her.


Early in November, my mama passed away much like my dad did six months prior. Let’s just say this year has been mighty eventful. Cancer got both of them, but it didn’t get all of them. Some things cancer can’t kill. It can’t kill love. Doesn’t even touch it. Magnifies it, in fact, in exponential proportion. Cancer can’t kill a soul either. That goes on forever. Thankfully, I can look forward to seeing my folks again because they were both believers. Yes, Virginia, this Thanksgiving I have much to be thankful for.

I had the honor of serving my mama in her last days. She chose to spend them at home instead of going to a hospital. My two sisters and I helped her fulfill this, her last wish. I’ve never felt so close to her or adored her more fully.

When her pain subsided, she was beautiful, absolutely radiant. I couldn’t stop kissing her. To an onlooker, it would have seemed as though her beauty had wasted away long ago. Unable to eat for weeks, she was frail and thin, emaciated, but my mama still held her head high. She was humbled by the need to have help for every little thing in life, but she accepted help gracefully, kindly, with dignity.

She had an iron will and stamina to match, and she loved her Lord unequivocally. He’d seen her through her darkest days when classmates would make fun of her for having buck teeth and dresses made out of potato sacks. The Depression took poor to a whole new level. She actually danced down the sidewalk when she realized that God loved her, as is, and regarded her special. In return, my mama loved everybody, as is. Especially those of us who weren’t exactly beautiful by the world’s standards. Especially the underdogs. The tired, the poor, the huddled masses. If you ever ate her food, you knew you were loved since cooking was her love language. Man, was she ever good at that.

My mama was also physically strong and had a high pain tolerance. Two things she’d need desperately until she drew her last breath. God gifted her with the skill set required to end it with grace. Go gracefully, she did. She waited until my sisters and I had removed ourselves a bit. We’d all watched my daddy pass away, and she knew how traumatic that scene could be. So she waited until she was calm, and we had drawn away to rest, and then she bowed out. Quietly, without fanfare, so we didn't have to watch. Her last labor of love.

A lady always knows when to leave.