“I won’t see you again, at least not here on earth. Is there anything you would like to tell me?” My mother was lying on her hospital bed waiting to be rolled into another room for another test. She was dying of cancer- it had spread all over her body into every major organ, including her brain. She looked over at me, at first her expressionless gaze made me wonder if she even heard me. “I am leaving, mom, what do you want to tell me before I go. We will never see each other again.”
Mom furrowed her brows, pointed her finger at me and gave me her last words, “You little shit. I wished I would have never had you.”
“Wow, mom, I was hoping for an I love you and I am sorry for abandoning you. See you on the other side.”
There went my “Movie of the Week” moment where everything that was wrong became sweet and fixed. I cry, mom cries, the audience cries. No chance of that. I fly home to Germany (my husband was stationed in Bamberg) to continue my life which for many years had excluded my mother. She had asked to meet my children when she was diagnosed and found her time was severely limited. I was surprised she wanted to see my girls; they were 3 and 4 years of age and knew my mother from the few pictures I had to show them. The army gave us a choice, the USA would fly us to the nearest airport (which was in Manassas, Virginia) and we were on our own to San Antonio, Texas, either before she died or after.
I opted to see her alive.
When we arrived in her hospital room she had company. My sister, my brother. My father beat us to the room; he had driven us from Manassas to San Antonio, potty breaks put him in the room before me, the husband and my two requested daughters. Dad was crying. My mother had been a beautiful bride, but life ravaged her and left a twisted shell. Her struggles and illnesses destroyed her outer beauty. Her face was distorted from multiple strokes, her teeth were gone and she struggled with her speech. She saw my girls and said, “oh, how nice.” That was it; grandmother bonding was over. I sat down next to her and my father. His face red from emotion, he looked over at me and said, “She looks like you, Jane. She has your hair.” My mother replied, “She is beautiful.”
As if I needed to throw-up I ran out of the room. My tears came from such a deep part of my soul, they almost hurt. My mother and father had NEVER talked about me like that before. I was weirded out- period. After I pulled myself together, I went back in the room. My mother had, at the most, 6 weeks. She needed a place to die. I was the youngest, but I was the only one that acted on the need to get her a nursing home, doctor and ambulance to her final destination.
Mom knew I was the one. She had always told us kids that she did NOT want to EVER end up in a nursing home. There was no alternative- she needed 24 hour care, and none of us was in the position to create a hospice environment in our homes.
Now, mom had kicked me out of her house at the age of 14. I came back for a few months but left in fear she was going to hurt me while I slept. I had caught her about to burn me on a Saturday morning. I left that morning and didn’t see her for 6 years. She left me in San Antonio when she moved to Pennsylvania, without a forwarding address- I heard the joke and lived the nightmare. Alone in San Antonio, friends opened their homes. I survived.
I was hoping she would say, “I love you and I am sorry.”
But she didn’t.
When mother died the Red Cross contacted my husband. He was a busy man and forgot to tell me for two full days. While sitting on his chair, eating a bowl of cereal, he remembered, “Kim! (chomp, chew) I forgot to tell you. Your mother didn’t make it.” He took another big bite of Cheerios. I said, “Didn’t MAKE it? What are you saying?” “She’s dead.”
I got up and left for our room. I turned and asked him to watch the girls; I needed some time alone. I had no idea that her passing would hurt so much. There was that cry again. I ached, I mourned, I rolled up in a ball and wished for my mommy. I guess I had wished that all of my life, and with her alive there was always hope that one day she would show up. I guess I was mourning my hope. I spent two nights in my room, alone, crying and confused as to why her death had the impact on me that it was having-
That second night I was given a gift. I was asleep and was told to wake up. I looked up and there she was. Like the angels in the popular show, Touched by an Angel, she glowed. Her hair was soft and full of light. Her face was beautiful, flawless, and glowing, from pictures of her youth I would place her appearance at 30ish. She was wearing a blue dress. I sat up in bed and touched her face. She told me this, “I came to tell you I am sorry and that I love you now the way I should have loved you. I am perfect now, my love is perfect. I will be with you always.” Then she held me. There was that cry again; this time not so painful, healing waters were mixing with my emotional pollution.
I was sitting up in bed. She was gone, and I immediately woke up my husband. “She was here!” I cried, “she was here!” I told him everything. “I think she knew she really hurt me with her last words and God let her come back to tell me she was sorry!!”
I woke up the next morning and felt better then…. the stinking thinking; was is a dream? am I just crazy? I went back to packing emotional bags that I was going to carry throughout my life. It was just a dream, I admitted.
Husband came home at noon with the days mail. In the mail I received a letter from my father’s wife. She had sent a page torn out of “The Daily Bread.” She highlighted several things on the page. First, she highlighted the date, July 8, 1987, my birthday. Second she placed her yellow marker on the title which was about imperfect relationships. There were a couple of sentences under the yellow glow, “if a person dies in Christ and the relationship was bad, remember, with Christ all things become perfect.” The article went on to why we on earth should forgive.
Whether she was in my room or not, I was given a gift. She has been perfected, and I forgive her earthly mistakes. She is with Christ and as I unpacked my “mother didn’t love me” bags I knew she was with me. She is beautiful, radiant and full of light and love. Now she is mommy- and with me always. As for my baggage, I am down to a small carry-on size which fits in any normal overhead space!