When the expected happens unexpectedly, it still comes as a shock. Watching my mother dwindle, physically and mentally, over the last year has been painful, even distressing at times, and especially since she was obliged to give up her last shred of independence and move into a care home. Loss of mobility and no sense of purpose were hard to bear for a woman who spent her life looking after others. Her indomitable spirit kept her going, even as her body shrank and her mind sometimes became confused, and she always had a smile and a song on her lips. She was loved by the staff and residents in her new abode, but never really felt at home there and always longed to be back in her own four walls, in the house she had lived in since 1938. Alas, that wasn’t possible.
It was a great joy for her to be able to hold her newest great-great-grandchild in her arms, give her a cuddle and sing to her at the beginning of February, when her great-granddaughter visited with two of her brood. We knew that she was fading fast, and are so grateful for this meeting and the pleasure it gave her.
It was a comfort for us who were with her towards the end that the hospital Chaplain was able to come and pray with her and us and bless her. She lingered a little longer, but finally had no more strength to fight and she died just after 7.30 am on Thursday, 16 February 2017, painlessly and peacefully. She was an amazing lady, who touched many lives and inspired many people. Tributes are pouring in, and I will eventually get around to thanking everyone, but for the moment we are trying to get used to her absence, to the ache left by her departure from her earthly life, and the huge gap that this tiny woman has left in our lives.
Verses 22-23 in chapter 5 of St Paul’s letter to the Galatians list the fruits of the Spirit:
“…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control …”
All of these were manifest in the lady I was privileged and blessed to call my mother.
The quote that she wanted in her memorial is this:
“There is a land of the living
and a land of the dead
and the bridge is love,
the only survival,
the only meaning.“
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey