Saturday, June 4, 2011

Participating in My Mother's Journey

My mother, Hilda in 1940

I know I haven't been around much these past weeks (Thank You, Leanne, for noticing). My mother was diagnosed a few months back with lung cancer and she had a long, strange journey to go through before she finally passed away last night.
 She started off angry. When the doctor gave her 4-6 months to live, she said she felt like he had given her a death sentence. I had to remind her that none of us get out alive and she had 80 good years to show for the life she had. She said her doctor was still a "s#%t head".  But she eventually accepted it and tried to keep a good sense of humor through the pain that she felt. She told me that she wanted to be buried with her wedding rings still on ("check to make sure the mortician doesn't steal them") and that she wanted to be dressed in comfortable clothing, "even if it wasn't dressy".
My niece is getting married tomorrow on the other side of the world in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mom wanted to go to the wedding in the worst possible way, but knew she couldn't. She said that the only way she'd see the wedding is if she died beforehand so her spirit could be there. Last night when I called to tell my sister that Mom was gone, I told her to keep watch tomorrow at the wedding in her garden, because Mom was on her way and would be there.
I spent the last three days with her. My sister-in-law and another niece were here to help, but it was mostly my duty to administer her morphine every hour around the clock. At night I'd fall asleep and wake up exactly an hour later, without the aid of an alarm clock, give her her morphine and then fall back asleep in the chair beside her  - to wake up an hour later and repeat the process. The rest of the time I'd talk to her and hold her hand or sit next to her working on a beadwork project. She had the luxury of dying at home and in her last hours she roused a little to tell us all she loved us before she wandered off again and began talking to her mama who had died almost 50 years ago.
My dad is feeling a bit empty now and I'm staying with him for a few more days until he adjusts to being alone. His cat is a comfort for him and he has friends that he talks with on the computer. My brother lives next door, so I know he'll be watched over when I'm not here.
My mother and I didn't always see eye to eye. She was a strong personality and had very firm ideas on religion and politics that I didn't always share. But I'm glad I was able to take this journey with her and see her off into the next world. And I'm sure that I'll probably get a glimpse of her in my own garden someday soon.
My sister, Kathy, came from South Africa right after my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer. This picture was taken just before she left to go home - Dad, Mom and Kath on the front porch.


  1. Dear Friend,
    My deepest sympathy on your loss. I never felt like I was truly a "grown up" until my mother was gone. How fortunate you were to be with her during the last days. May only happy memories remain.

  2. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It must not have been easy to write about.

  3. Cenya, What a roller coaster ride you seem to be having at the moment; hope you now find some time to look after you. Words can sometimes sound like empty vessels, especially when using this kind of medium to communicate, but my condolences go out to you and your family right now.


  4. sending hugs.I too am sorry for your loss. Youre very brave to have been able to write this so soon. its a lovely tribute to your mum, she sounded a wonderful spirited lady.

    Leanne x

  5. I'm sad to know your darling Mamma is no longer in your life, but thankful that she was able to pass over in her own home, with you beside her.
    I'm sure it was important for her to make her final wishes known and I'm sure she was there at the wedding, just "out ot sight".
    I often feel my Dad with me in this way.
    I'm sure if we a re open and senstitive to it, our loved ones can do this. Watch and wait Cynthia, she is there, I'm certain XX

  6. So sorry Cenya, why on earth did I type Cynthia?! xx

  7. Wishing you strength to carry you through this difficult time. I know it meant a lot to your mother and your father that you were there with her till the last. I have no doubt that when she began talking to her mother, it was because her mother had come to help her across and take her home. Now is the time to comb out your memories of her, and choose the best ones to braid together and put in the keepsake box in your heart.

  8. Sorry for your loss. I'm sure your mother will be in your garden soon, and your heart forever.

  9. I'm so sorry, sweetheart. :( I wish I could give you a hug right now. This was such a beautiful post, I couldn't read it all without tears coming to my eyes. I'm certain your mum made it to that wedding and that certain things happen for a reason, but it's hard to remember through the pain of loss. I know you're going to treasure those good memories you have of her, and that her spirit's going to watch over you. It's nice to know, too, she will be able to see her own mother again. Strength and love to you and your father during this time of grief. <3

  10. Sorry, Cenya. It is great you got to share your mom's last few days. Sending you positive thoughts in your time of mourning.


  11. Dear dear Cenya. Reading your post took me back to sitting by my own mother's bedside. I am sorry that you no longer have her on this earth. It's always such an unfillable void when a girl loses her matter if you always agreed or not.

    I think your grandmother came to meet your Mom on her journey and take her across the threshold into her new life. I hope you are able to feel her with you for a little while longer That closeness that you have now to her and her memory goes away over time and you even start to miss that...Somehow, though it's painful, you're still closer to her memory now than you will be later. Bathe in it.

    Big hugs, Susan

  12. Really beautiful and moving words... thank you for sharing these inspirational, deeply personal moments.
    Jane Gray


Please weave a web of words for all to see.