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Posts Tagged ‘Mothers Day’

How Mother’s Day Has Changed for Me

by Lori La Bey, Founder of Alzheimer’s Speaks

Dementia or not, Mother’s are to be loved

Celebrate Life No Matter What!

First, I have to say I was blessed to not only have an amazing Mother who loved and cared for our family and others without exception.  She put her children’s needs first, often missing out on things that would have made her own life easier. 

Below is a video showing some of those special moments growing up as a young child like… Christmas, birthdays, swimming and skiing and patience when we weren’t so perfect, but still cute; like when my brother Scott sits on his potty pulling all the toilet paper off the roll. 

One thing you probably noticed is my mom wasn’t in the video much.  That was her way – preparing and assuring everyone was having a great time and working in the background to keep things running smoothly.  I guess that’s where I get it from too.  People are always trying to get me to sit down and visit and I’m running around cooking and cleaning. I do have to admit, like my Mother, I take pride and enjoy pulling off a great party that flows just seeing others enjoying the experience fills my heart.

This is my Mother’s finger print which I adore. Click above if you want more information how to get your own custom jewelry that matters.

Over the years I have realized Mothers are not just women who give birth to a child, or their Grandmothers or their Great Grandmothers.  They step up and protect not only children, but humanity as a whole including our fur babies and the earth, They are women and even young girls who are all different ages and are in all different stages of life who care, guide, love and support people.  The color of their skin, their educational level, the amount of money they have or don’t, their ability to speak your language or even speak at all doesn’t matter. It’s their heart.  It’s their compassion. It’s their desire to bring a calmness and balance to life.  It’s their ability to encourage and engage people so they feel good about themselves and their situation.

Yes, I have found it’s the personal connectiveness Mothers offer.  The simple but much overlooked skill of listening.  The ability to accept what is, even when there really is no way to fix a situation.  Their willingness to love us unconditionally and hold a sacred space where we can be weak, confused and scared without judgement.

It’s Mothers who lift our spirits and point out what we have or are doing right when we are in our darkest space.  They can paint us a picture of the beauty they see within us, when we can’t visualize one good thing about ourselves.  They encourage us to be all that we can be in whatever direction that may take us. 

Mothers have learned each person’s uniqueness is exceptional and important to the world.

Mother’s understand that staying calm when we can’t be is a huge gift helping us center ourselves.

Mother’s feel our pain, fear, embarrassment, and lack of confidence. They celebrate our silliness, joy, deep love and take pride in and celebrate when we get life right. 

To all the Mother’s in our world I say “Thank You” for all you have done and continue to do.

May you all recognize the Mother’s in your life and appreciate what they have done and continue to do for you.  May you not stay quiet but let each of them know the value and richness they have brought to your life.  May you share the lessons you have learned from them which have made you a better person, so that you may lead by example for others.

If you are like me and have lost your Mother and/or women in your life who have played that role for you, I know Mother’s Day can be tremendously sad. 

Shift to an Attitude of Gratitude

Try to remember you can’t feel great loss without having great love and that is a true blessing. 

Enjoy, embrace and celebrate this Mother’s Day honoring all who have given you the gift of being Mothered.

Miss you Mom. Love you to the moon and back!

Diana Pierce of “What’s Next with Diana Pierce” talks with Lori La Bey , CEO of Alzheimer’s Speaks helping us reframe our expectations to replace fear with HOPE!

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Honoring All Mother’s on this Very Special Day

 

Cheers to all the women who have taken the time to be there when we needed them most!

Mother’s Day has always been a day of deep reflection for me.  Even before my Mother passed away in 2014, I had such great appreciation for all she gave not only me but any child or adult in need of love or support.  My mom was a very loving and compassionate person, one I can only hope to be like.

Years after graduating I was told by many friends, that they wished my parents were theirs.  I know now, when I was younger many of my friends hid what their lives were really like.  They experienced things like abuse and neglect that I can honestly say, never even crossed my mind.  I didn’t know they existed. Boy, how lucky was I! It makes me wonder if I was really that naïve or if things just weren’t talked openly back than. Either way, all I know is that my Mother, like many women made a difference not only in the lives of their own children, but many people in need.  Maybe they adopted a child or helped care for a child.     Maybe they recognized a person in need and made time to be there. Most all of us have experienced a time in our lives when we didn’t want to be alone, when we needed someone to hear us, validate our feeling or give us counsel.  Most of us were lucky to have a woman step up and be a Mother to us catching us when we were falling.

Mother’s are a gift and should be treated as such. 

Below is a short video when my mom was in her end stages of Alzheimer’s.  To this day it puts a smile on my face to see her joyful.  You may miss it, if your looing for someone to be in the perfect outfit and makeup… but I can’t watch this video or many others on my YouTube channel with out picking up on all the non verbal ways she is communicating joy – smile, dimples, tapping toes and hands, squinting eyes and of course her adorable laugh.  May you enjoy watching mom listen and at times sing with musician Barbara Lee Friedman.

Today, I am lucky to have a daughter.  A daughter who loves her children and puts them first and foremost in her life.  It brings me great pleasure to watch her in action with her girls.

Blessings To All Women To All Mothers

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Pat Sylvia, Director of Education & Member Development LeadingAge Washington

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Third Mother’s Day Without Mom

Feeling Lost and Privileged

Below is an article I wrote for my first Mother’s Day without Mom.  It was a very healing moment writing about her. I feel it still stands true and maybe, just maybe it will help others on their own healing journey.  I hope  you enjoy it.

By Lori La Bey – copyright 2014

Lori La Bey of Alzheimer's Speaks & Senior Lifestyle Trends

Lori La Bey founder of Alzheimer’s Speaks

Through my mother’s thirty year journey with dementia she continued to guide and teach me; love me in ways I did not know where possible, especially in times of illness.  It’s now been 72 days since mom slipped into the heavens and joined my father. Although I can rationalize her journey on earth is over and she is now in a much better place, free of pain, fully mobile and mind intact; I am struggling.

Today I Will Visit Her Grave Site With My Beautiful Daughter Danielle,

Who Loved Her Grandma So Very Much.

dan_and_mom_1 - Copy

Going There Gives Me A Sense Of Peace.

headstoneThe Cemetery, A Place Where I Can Honor Her,

Leave Roses And Balloons In Honor Of Our Relationship And

The Love We Had For One Another.

mom_grave_cropped_051114_mothers_day

Throughout My Life, My Mother Has Been My Logical And Loving Conscious.

Mom Was My Rock.

20young_fam

Mom is the one I could always depend on. She was not only my mother, but my best friend.  As my friend Lisa Hirsch titled her book, “My Mother My Hero”  pretty much sums it up!

Through tough times she was my guide and support.

On special occasions we celebrated together.

Mom Taught Me:

To look for the tiniest of things to be grateful for.

To hold a hand out to those in need.

To love deeply.

To consciously make a difference in my life and others.

To work hard and be responsible.

To understand my impact on others; realizing, appreciating and honoring the world is much larger than myself and that we are all interconnected.

To understand that to be a Mother one does not have to have their own child; but rather to be willing to adopt a child in mind, body, heart and soul.

To make a connection and difference in someone’s life, is to be a Mother.

gifts

Mom Showed Me How By The Way She Lived Her Own Life.

erin_sarah

Leading by example showing me a variety of ways to be a compassionate person.

How to listen to others, not just hear their words.

To look for nonverbal signs of what others truly want or need, when their words were lost or pride held them back.

To look past the everyday judgments and see the whole person standing before me.

memom

Through Illness Mom Taught Me:

To let go of control. To realize it is a mirage, a trap of guilt and pleasure.

To embrace the simplicity of life.

To smile and spread grace.

To love more deeply than I ever knew was possible.

To laugh hard and authentically to embed the moment into my soul.

To look for and create joy in all moments of life, no matter how difficult they are.

dan_me_mom_laughing

To talk openly and honestly with others acknowledging all emotions without embarrassment.

To understand we are all in this life together and that shame, guilt and denial shut us down. Realizing the only way to get past those crunching emotions is to be open, honest and proud you’ve recognized them and what has triggered them; allowing you to move through them. Past them. Over them.

To not only say, “I’m sorry” when wrong, but to change my behavior to avoid it from happening again.

To feel my fear, think of alternatives to remove it and to be brave enough to take action to reclaim the life I envision.

To follow my instincts even when they seem goofy or senseless.

To trust in a higher power than myself, knowing I’m never alone.

cross

To honor everyone’s beliefs.

To realize prestige, money and objects are just things.  They will not make you a better person; until you realize they can be powerful tools to expand your work for the greater good.

She taught me the importance of being person centered and what it truly means – which is how and why I created “Your Memory Chip.”  –  Are they Safe?, Are they Happy? Are The Painfree?

Through All These Lessons And More,

I Find I Still Want Her Back In This Physical World Where I Live.

Some days my heart aches so bad I think it will explode; or maybe, just maybe it will stop beating all together.  I logically believe and know in my heart mom is in a much better place. In heaven with my dad probably dancing and laughing with many friends and family who have also passed.

But Today, My Mind Wonders…

How Long Will The Pain Of Her Loss Last?

My heart longs for the warmth of her being.

My body reaches out to touch and embrace her, wanting to feel the calmness she always gave me.

My soul wants to be in her physical presence.  The presence that grounds me and allows me to feel strong and confident; even when weak.

My nostrils want to take in one last breath of her essence.

My mind wants to create more moments of joy with her.

Yes Today I Will Go To The Cemetery,

Where I Know She Is Not.

Mom’s soul is not limited to the small patch of grass next to her headstone.

Mom is in the air I breathe.

She is in the sunlight that warms me and ignites my growth.

She is the rain that falls, filled with nutrients and washing away the toxins.

She is the snow that chills me and brings a brilliant beauty by white washing this canvas called earth.

She is the sunset that screams at me to be amazed by our God and the beauty which surrounds me.

She is the moon that calls me to reflect, regenerate and give gratitude for the life I am blessed to live.

Mom, on this Mother’s day I honor you,

and all Mothers who have warmed a child’s heart, taught us soul lessons, loved us unconditionally as we have taken missteps, stumbled and fallen.

To all women who have been then there to pick us up and wipe us off.

Who have kissed a booboo.

Given a hug when we have felt unworthy.

Who sat silently in our presence when no words were needed to make us feel safe and loved.

To your hand, when you reached out to let us know we are not alone.

To your words of encouragement when we were down.

To your thoughtful and thoughtless

celebration when we finally got it right!

Each Mother is special.

An “Earth Angel” Guiding Us In This Physical World.

Thank you to all Mother’s, for who you are and what you do for the world at large.

Thank you Mom for all you taught me.

All you gave me.

All you continue to give me from the other side.

Your continued connection through dreams and through our souls has been a beautiful gift to me.

May Your Mother’s Day Be blessed. 

May You Hear The Love My Heart Sings For You.

heart on sheet music

I thought I would add this short video, one of many, which means the world to me.  It’s of my mom singing in her end stages.

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Feeling Lost Without My Mother

Feeling Lost

By Lori La Bey – copyright 2014

Lori La Bey of Alzheimer's Speaks & Senior Lifestyle Trends

Lori La Bey founder of Alzheimer’s Speaks

Through my mother’s thirty year journey with dementia she continued to guide and teach me; love me in ways I did not know where possible, especially in times of illness.  It’s now been 72 days since mom slipped into the heavens and joined my father. Although I can rationalize her journey on earth is over and she is now in a much better place, free of pain, fully mobile and mind intact; I am struggling.

Today I Will Visit Her Grave Site With My Beautiful Daughter Danielle,

Who Loved Her Grandma So Very Much.

dan_and_mom_1 - Copy

Going There Gives Me A Sense Of Peace.

headstone

The Cemetery, A Place Where I Can Honor Her,

Leave Roses And Balloons In Honor Of Our Relationship And

The Love We Had For One Another.

mom_grave_cropped_051114_mothers_day

Throughout My Life, My Mother Has Been My Logical And Loving Conscious.

Mom Was My Rock.

20young_fam

Mom is the one I could always depend on. She was not only my mother, but my best friend.  As my friend Lisa Hirsch titled her book, “My Mother My Hero”  pretty much sums it up!

Through tough times she was my guide and support.

On special occasions we celebrated together.

Mom Taught Me:

To look for the tiniest of things to be grateful for.

To hold a hand out to those in need.

To love deeply.

To consciously make a difference in my life and others.

To work hard and be responsible.

To understand my impact on others; realizing, appreciating and honoring the world is much larger than myself and that we are all interconnected.

To understand that to be a Mother one does not have to have their own child; but rather to be willing to adopt a child in mind, body, heart and soul.

To make a connection and difference in someone’s life, is to be a Mother.

gifts

Mom Showed Me How By The Way She Lived Her Own Life.

erin_sarah

Leading by example showing me a variety of ways to be a compassionate person.

How to listen to others, not just hear their words.

To look for nonverbal signs of what others truly want or need, when their words were lost or pride held them back.

To look past the everyday judgments and see the whole person standing before me.

memom

Through Illness Mom Taught Me:

To let go of control. To realize it is a mirage, a trap of guilt and pleasure.

To embrace the simplicity of life.

To smile and spread grace.

To love more deeply than I ever knew was possible.

To laugh hard and authentically to embed the moment into my soul.

To look for and create joy in all moments of life, no matter how difficult they are.

dan_me_mom_laughing

To talk openly and honestly with others acknowledging all emotions without embarrassment.

To understand we are all in this life together and that shame, guilt and denial shut us down. Realizing the only way to get past those crunching emotions is to be open, honest and proud you’ve recognized them and what has triggered them; allowing you to move through them. Past them. Over them.

To not only say, “I’m sorry” when wrong, but to change my behavior to avoid it from happening again.

To feel my fear, think of alternatives to remove it and to be brave enough to take action to reclaim the life I envision.

To follow my instincts even when they seem goofy or senseless.

To trust in a higher power than myself, knowing I’m never alone.

cross

To honor everyone’s beliefs.

To realize prestige, money and objects are just things.  They will not make you a better person; until you realize they can be powerful tools to expand your work for the greater good.

She taught me the importance of being person centered and what it truly means – which is how and why I created “Your Memory Chip.”  –  Are they Safe?, Are they Happy? Are The Painfree?

Through All These Lessons And More,

I Find I Still Want Her Back In This Physical World Where I Live.

Some days my heart aches so bad I think it will explode; or maybe, just maybe it will stop beating all together.  I logically believe and know in my heart mom is in a much better place. In heaven with my dad probably dancing and laughing with many friends and family who have also passed.

But Today, My Mind Wonders…

How Long Will The Pain Of Her Loss Last?

My heart longs for the warmth of her being.

My body reaches out to touch and embrace her, wanting to feel the calmness she always gave me.

My soul wants to be in her physical presence.  The presence that grounds me and allows me to feel strong and confident; even when weak.

My nostrils want to take in one last breath of her essence.

My mind wants to create more moments of joy with her.

Yes Today I Will Go To The Cemetery,

Where I Know She Is Not.

Mom’s soul is not limited to the small patch of grass next to her headstone.

Mom is in the air I breathe.

She is in the sunlight that warms me and ignites my growth.

She is the rain that falls, filled with nutrients and washing away the toxins.

She is the snow that chills me and brings a brilliant beauty by white washing this canvas called earth.

She is the sunset that screams at me to be amazed by our God and the beauty which surrounds me.

She is the moon that calls me to reflect, regenerate and give gratitude for the life I am blessed to live.

Mom, on this Mother’s day I honor you,

and all Mothers who have warmed a child’s heart, taught us soul lessons, loved us unconditionally as we have taken missteps, stumbled and fallen.

To all women who have been then there to pick us up and wipe us off.

Who have kissed a booboo.

Given a hug when we have felt unworthy.

Who sat silently in our presence when no words were needed to make us feel safe and loved.

To your hand, when you reached out to let us know we are not alone.

To your words of encouragement when we were down.

To you thoughtful and thoughtless celebration when we finally got it right!

Each Mother is special.

An “Earth Angel” Guiding Us In This Physical World.

Thank you to all Mother’s, for who you are and what you do for the world at large.

Thank you Mom for all you taught me.

All you gave me.

All you continue to give me from the other side.

Your continued connection through dreams and through our souls has been a beautiful gift to me.

May Your Mother’s Day Be blessed. 

May You Hear The Love My Heart Sings For You.

heart on sheet music

Tomorrow Look For The Short Post, A Gift Mom Wants Me To Share With All Of You.

For More Information And Resources On Dementia And Caregiving

Go To Our Website Below.

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Mothers Day 2007 

Our Last 15 Minutes

by Gene Kramer

My youngest sister, Karen, had been taking care of our mother in New York for many years. Mom was going into the last helpless and heartbreaking stages of Alzheimer’s and Dementia that were, very rapidly and maliciously, stealing away her dignity and her life.

In August 2005, I received a phone call that my sister had passed away. When Karen died, there was no one to take care of mom, except me. My oldest sister lived in Tennessee and was not in good health and my older brother had spent a number of years in a care facility in New York.

I had lived in Nebraska for 20 years and had 2 young children there, ages 6 and 5. My oldest boy, 21, lived in Texas near his mom and was doing well for himself. I am so very proud of them. Whenever I talk about them, the plume of feathers on my chest puffs out with Love and Pride.

My mother had lived in the same house for over 50 years and I didn’t want to attempt moving her to Nebraska. She was 80 years old at the time and I was afraid she wouldn’t survive the move. I had to make a decision, that I had no idea how to make. Do I move to New York and take care of my mother? Do I take care of her until the horrific diseases had stolen every ounce of spirit from her? Or, do I stay in Nebraska and be with my younger children, raising them, molding and shaping them for their future.

I instinctively knew that I should move to New York and take care of my mom. After all, she had taken care of me and made great sacrifices for many years. Yes. I had an obligation to move to New York, because I knew that was the right thing to do and it made sense to me.

I also instinctively knew that I should stay in Nebraska and be with my children. That’s what good parents do. Were there for our children when they need us and were also there when they don’t need us, just in case they do. I also had an obligation to be with them, to raise them as my mother had done for me, because I knew that was the right thing to do and it made sense to me.

My father had passed away from lung cancer in 1966. He was 42 and I was 7. My mother worked, kept the house and raised 4 children by herself in the 1960s. If anyone were to tell me that there’s a better mother anywhere in the world, I wouldn’t believe them.

While trying to make the impossible decision, I would fly or drive up to New York, spend the week taking care of my mom, head back to Nebraska on Friday mornings so I could pick up my children. At that time, I was getting them every weekend and they knew that at 6:00pm Friday night, daddy would be in the driveway to pick them up and I couldn’t disappoint them.

I kept this schedule for about 2 ½ years, but it was too much. I couldn’t work because I never knew where Id be and my health had begun to suffer. I was 49 years old at the time and wasn’t physically as young as I used to be. I knew that the time for the decision, that I still didn’t know how to make, had come.

Mom had become almost catatonic in the last year or so. She mostly stayed in her bed with the TV on, but just stared right through it. Her face was expressionless and she rarely spoke. The few times she did say anything, she asked me if we had enough toilet paper. Every time she asked, I would go to the store, pick some up and bring it back, showing her that we had enough. The bathroom in her bedroom had 100′s of rolls of toilet paper stacked up to the ceiling. Fortunately, there was another bathroom in the house. Once when she asked, I tried taking a package out of her bathroom and told her I bought it, but she knew. Somehow, she always knew.

On that particular Mothers Day in 2007, I had brought her some flowers, chocolate and a Mothers Day card. I sat next to her on the bed and showed her the flowers. She stared through them. I held them up to her face, hoping against hope, that the scent would trigger something in her. A memory perhaps, but there was no reaction.

I opened the box of chocolates and put a small piece in her mouth. A few seconds later, the chocolate slid slowly from her mouth, aided by the almost, ever present drool. I wiped her mouth with a tissue and opened up her Mothers Day card and read it to her. Still nothing. I couldn’t take it any longer and I started to cry. I lie down, put my arms around her, buried my head in her shoulder, and screamed. Please Mom! Please! I can’t do this alone! I’m not strong enough! I need help! I need you! Please help me Mom! Please! I cried for everything that is, everything that was, and everything that will be. Through my tears I let it all out. The decision I didn’t know how to make, all the deaths in our family. How terribly alone I felt. How much I missed her. I cried for it all. Everyone and everything! I was saying everything I had wanted to say to her since the diseases had put a vice grip on her mind.

Finally, my tears slowed down and I was able to catch my breath. I sat up, looked at her and still saw no response. I just sighed. It was a sigh borne of hopelessness. A sigh borne of helplessness. And yes, a sigh borne of defeat. It was over. It was all over. I gave up. I had nothing left to give. As I looked at my mom, I prayed to God to take her quickly, as I couldn’t bear to see her suffer anymore. I prayed that if He was going to take her quickly, Id like one last chance to see my real mom. A few minutes. A few seconds. Anything. But, as I looked at her, I didn’t hold much faith of that happening.

I got up, kissed her on the forehead, pulled the covers up so she wouldn’t get cold and, slumping over with my head down, went to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee. As I was getting the water, I thought I heard something. I turned the water off and listened. Must have been me. I turned the water back on and I heard it again, this time a little louder and a little clearer. Cant be, I thought to myself. I quickly turned the water off and stood perfectly still. I stood there and listened. 10 seconds passed 20 seconds And then I heard it as clear as day. Geno. There have been only 2 people in my life that I have answered to when called Geno. My father and my mother.

Shaking with anticipation, I slowly walked into her bedroom, sat beside her on the bed and looked at her. She lay there, but the expression on her face had not changed. Her eyes were still glazed over and the drool was sliding down her chin. I wiped her chin and again lie down next to her. I told myself that it must have been my imagination. Things like that just don’t happen in real life. They only happen in the movies. Only in our dreams. Only in the fantasy worlds we create in our mind, to keep the pain somewhat at bay. Fantasy worlds we create out of our own loneliness and despair. Fantasy worlds we create as a defense to preserve our sanity and quite possibly our lives.

I lay there with her, I’m not sure how long, when her breathing changed. I didn’t think too much of it, because it had happened so many times before, mostly because of the medication her doctor had prescribed for her.

Then, I felt a hand rest lightly on the top of my head. I froze solid and held my breath. Very slowly, the hand began to stroke my hair, and in an almost inaudible whisper, I heard my name again. Geno I continued to hold my breath, hoping against hope. Then, Geno. Look at me. And then I knew! I knew! I knew more than anything that I had ever known in my entire life!

I slowly raised my head from her shoulder and said, Mom? And there she was! When I looked into her eyes, the glaze that had covered them for so long had all but disappeared. She looked directly at me. This was not the near-lifeless shell of the woman that had been unresponsive for so long. This was my Mother! This was my Mom! This was my Mommy! Her eyes were focused, piercing and alert.

It had been so long since Id seen my real mom and when I looked into her eyes, I saw the mom I remembered. This was the mom who had raised me. This was the mom who, when we were in a Walk-a Thon to raise money for Cancer Research after my father had died, ran out of our house as the walkers passed by. She was holding a big metal stewpot and spoon. She ran to the front of the pack and started banging them together. She marched with a high-step as she led the parade. This was the mom who had held me and cried with me after my father had died, because I missed my daddy so much. This was really her! I had almost forgotten how beautiful she was. I stared at her and for the briefest moment, I thought I saw a faint, white radiance surround her, but when I shook my head, it was gone. I wasn’t sure if it had ever been there in the first place.

She sat up and opening her mouth to speak, her words began to flow past her lips. It was one of the sweetest sounds I had ever heard. Its right up there with the sound each of my 3 children had made when they were born. It was pure joy to me. It was the clear, confident and wise tone of her voice, as it became stronger with every syllable, with every word and with every sentence. She spoke exactly the way I remembered.

She cleared her throat once, looked directly at me and said, Geno, I’ve always felt bad that you kids had to grow up without your father. It was not the way I thought it would go. But, as I’ve told you on many, many occasions, were Kramers! Were survivors! We stick together and we do the best we can, with what we’ve got, or with what we haven’t got. I opened my mouth to speak, but I could not. There were no words. It was as if I had a mute button somewhere on my body that had been pressed. I looked at her and thought perhaps I was imagining what was taking place, as I wanted so desperately to see and believe. Her gaze went past my eyes and looked deep within my soul and within the very essence of what I am. Everything I felt. Everything I was. Everything I will be.

She continued speaking, Now, you listen to me young man, and it was with those two words, young man that I realized, she was indeed back and anything I would have said or done in question or protest would have been futile. I now knew, beyond any doubt, that this was my Mother! I knew when to shut my mouth and listen. And I did.

She continued, Your place is with your children. You know that. You’ve always known that. I will not allow you to be apart from them, even for a little while. You need them, as much as they need you. Now, I want you to do two things for me. First, please don’t let them put me away. I couldn’t bear being taken away from my home. When its my time to die, I want to die in my own bed, in my own home. I told her, I’ll try my best mom. She stopped and her gaze wandered briefly. For a few seconds, her eyes glazed over, but then were clear again.

She turned her head back toward me, looked into my eyes, and she smiled. It was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen. It was an angels smile. A smile that said that she knew, she had finally earned her wings to fly home. She had finally earned the right to live out eternity with those that had passed before her. My father, grandfather, grandmother, nephew, youngest sister, oldest sister, niece, aunt, cousin, granddaughter and very soon, herself. My mother. She knew that very soon, she would be freed of the bondage and the torture of the diseases that had relentlessly ravaged her mind and body for so many years. She knew that she would soon be at peace.

I wrapped my arms around her, hugged her tight and said, Mom, you said there were 2 things you wanted me to do. What was the second? She squeezed me tighter, kissed me and whispered in my ear, Next time, don’t be so stingy with the chocolate. We both laughed. We shared our last laugh together. We shared our last 15 minutes together. She gave me one last hug and lie back down on her bed. I laid down next to her with my head back on her shoulder, and she continued stroking my hair.

Then, as before, her breathing once again changed. Her hand stopped moving and lay still on my head for a moment. Then, I felt it fall listlessly to the bed. I knew what had happened, but I wanted to hold her and remember her from the last few minutes we had together, for just a little bit longer. Eventually, I sat up and looked at her. Her eyes had glazed over for, most likely, the last time. I slowly leaned over her, kissed her gently on the lips and whispered in her ear, Thank you Mom. You did it right. I love you.

I stood up, pulled her covers up so she wouldn’t get cold, brushed the hair from her eyes and went into the living room. I lay down on the couch and started crying again. But, these tears were not for the almost empty shell that had once been my mother. It wasn’t for her dignity that had been stripped viciously away. I had cried enough of those tears. These tears were for being so grateful, for being so blessed, for having been given the opportunity to see, hear and be with my real mom, one last time.

That was the last time I ever saw or heard from my real mother. The mother that I remembered. The mother that I loved as much as anyone I had ever loved. The mother I respected. The mother that, as her final duty as a parent requires, showed me, rather than told me, that the greatest gift that a parent can give to their children, is the gift of Unconditional Love.

A short time after that, I was with my children in Nebraska, when I received the phone call. My mother had gone into cardiac arrest the night before and had died in her sleep.

The last few minutes we spent together that day, mean as much to me, as anything in my life has ever meant. She had earned her wings and got permission to fly home. She was once again surrounded by family and loved ones, in a place where there is no pain, no suffering, no sadness or grief. There is only love.

When her heart finally gave out, she died in her own bed, in her own home. While that doesn’t make her death any less sad or painful, I take some comfort in the knowledge, that I had something to do with that. However, that was not the last gift I gave to my mother.

At the cemetery, we all stood around her coffin, which would soon be lowered into the grave plot next to my father. They were right next to each other. They could finally play footsies for all eternity. They were finally close enough to hold hands once again, as when they first met, as when they took their solemn vows to love and honor each other, as when their first child was born and each of the three successive children after that. It had finally come around full-circle.

As they were preparing to lower her body into the ground, I walked over to the priest that had performed the burial ceremony, opened a paper bag I was holding, took something out of it and asked him to bless it.

When he handed it back to me, I walked up to my mothers coffin, opened the cover an inch or so, slid something inside and, closing it for the last time, lay my head down and whispered, I didn’t forget, mom. I Love you. Thank you for being my mom and for doing it right.

I stood up, walked around and thanked everyone for being there. I walked away with my head held high, looking the world straight in the eye, once again secure with the quiet knowledge, that everything was going to be okay.

What did I put in her coffin? Come on! You know! Of course you know! It was the biggest and chocolates chocolate bar I could find. It seemed the right thing to do.

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