Sunday, November 24, 2013

Waving Good-bye


It is with a very heavy heart that I say my beautiful mother passed away November 3rd.

Thirty-three days in the hospital was a very long time to keep her spirits up, but Mom’s grace was always in check even as her taste buds and tolerance for cream of wheat and red jello wained.  Despite the difficulties she faced during her surprising and brief illness, she almost always had a smile on her face and a kind word for the nurses and doctors-- if even if that "kind word" was a request for a hot fudge sundae.

After lengthy conversations with doctors, Mom made a very clear and thoughtful decision to stop treatment and all the poking, prodding and unsuccessful procedures repeatedly prescribed to her.  They weren’t working and she knew it.  Mom wanted to be back in her home, and her own bed, with her dog and cat curled up beside her.  She was not afraid of her decision to leave the hospital and placed herself completely in God’s hands.

These past several weeks have been heartbreaking, as you might imagine, but at the same time, my siblings and I, along with my 12 nieces and nephews, all had the same comforting and heart-felt knowledge about our mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

We.  Were.  Loved.


And our mother took her job as a parent very seriously.

Mom supported and encouraged our interests, hobbies and studies attending every dance recital, horse show, school function, sporting event, party, ceremony, divorce, birth, Grandparent Day, concert, graduation, and community events we participated in-- And she was present and happy to do so.

She showed us through her friendships what it meant to be a friend, and she gave us the tools we needed to grow into responsible adults and parents.  She helped us raise our children and taught us through example to work hard for what we wanted.


Our mother also taught us the difference between right and wrong, and the importance of always telling the truth.  She insisted, for example, that we stand outside on the front porch, even during blizzards, so she could honestly tell a phone caller we didn’t want to speak with that “we weren’t in the house right now.”

Mom gave us confidence with the absolute knowledge that no matter where she lived, she would always have a “no-questions-asked” policy if we ever needed to come back home again--  With open arms she provided a bed or an extra seat at the dinner table for as long as we needed help.  She was our safe haven and always had our backs.


Our mother was always a woman of prayer and devout faith who taught us to worship the Lord in whatever way that worked best for us.  Regardless if we followed her exact path or not, mom prayed we had a relationship with God and she made no judgement of how we participated-- although sometimes not so subtly-- like during the 70s when she would answer the phone “Good Evening God loves you”-- a statement that was absolutely horrifying to us as teenagers.

Her funeral on a Sunday seemed fitting because it was Mom’s favorite day of the week. Starting with Church in the morning, always sitting in the same front pew on the right side-- a spot she told us she picked so us kids would have to behave ourselves during services-- and ending the day with her calling each of my siblings and me to “count noses” as she’d say, to make sure we were all okay, even if she’d seen or spoken to us countless times that week already.  It was our mom being our mom.

So tonight instead of hearing her voice to check in, the five of us will remember our mother and...

The incredible amount of butter she enjoyed consuming on a daily basis...

Her wearing layers of sweaters even in 90 degree weather...

The smile on her face when she ate ice cream...

And S’ agapaw -- a secret code for I love you.


We will remember how mom loved her 29 cent lectures from her mentor, protector, advisor and best friend-- her sister, and how she had a smile reserved just for her when she called her durdle-der...

And how she was the best mother-in-law ever...

Her "love 'em and hug 'em" parenting advice...

And “Flapping her wings” to help us fly home to her safely.


We’ll remember how dinners together as a family were very important to mom...

How there was always room at her table for one more...

And how she always ended Grace by saying “Make us mindful of our need for You, Lord, and our need for each other”.


We will remember how she would undress her newborn grandbabies to count their fingers and toes...

And how she blessed their foreheads when she saw them...

And how much she loved her extended family like they were her own.


With appreciation, we will remember how she kept her cool during heated teenage battles with “That’s okay, I love you enough for both of us”.

And we will remember mom’s endless wave-- Mom would stand in her driveway or front window and wave good-bye every single time we’d leave her home-- Waving with both arms until our cars were completely out of sight.

When mom passed in her home it was heart-breaking and beautiful all at the same time.  She made it very clear to us that she wanted it to be quiet so she could have her eyes wide open so as as not to miss any part of her journey-- And that’s how it was, with a peaceful smile on her face and a calmness we have never witness before, mom reached up to heaven on the wings of her deep, deep faith and gently graduated to heaven.

When the funeral director came to take mom away-- who also happened to be a lifelong friend, he gently wrapped her in a hug and placed her in his vehicle.  Our family instinctively followed him outside and all stood in her driveway.  Together, we waved, with both arms, one last time, until our mom was completely out of sight-- But she will be in our hearts forever.

Joanna

58 comments:

Fireblossom said...

She sounds wonderful, Joanna. My thoughts are with you and your family.

Jeanie said...

I am so sorry to hear about the death of your mom, but I am charmed by the woman and her life that you describe. What a blessing that she was able to make the choices she did at the end of her life. You were blessed to have had her and to have the memories she left you with.
My thoughts are with you.

DJan said...

What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful woman. Thank you for sharing her beauty with me. I am glad I got to know her through your blog. Blessings to you, Joanna.

Eddie Bluelights said...

Joanna, I am so sorry to read of your sad loss. I know how it feels to lose a much loved mother, and of course, as you know recently my dear wife. I promise you, you will see her again and you will never be separated again - for ever!!
Love to you, Joanna, and God Bless you, your mother and your family ~ Eddie x

Cloudia said...

Weeping.

Thank you for trusting us with this powerful powerful word.



Warm ALOHA from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral
=^..^= <3

darsden said...

Oh Joanna, I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved Mom. Big hugs and prayers for all. Beautiful tribute, I could feel the love and the laughter.

Brian Miller said...

hugs, friend.
i am sorry for you loss.
so hard to lose a mother, they have such a place in our lives.
sounds like you had a good one to learn from over the years. smiles.

Christine said...

Sorry for your loss Joanna, very moving tribute.

Ami said...

I'm very sorry. How fortunate you were to have her. And I'm sure she felt fortunate to have you, too.

She sounds like a lovely person.
Thank you for sharing her with us.

SoberMomWrites said...

What a beautiful tribute to your mom. I'm sorry for your loss but I loved hearing about how lovely she was and will always be in your hearts.

And I never knew anyone else who said, "That's okay...I love you enough for the both of us." Except me.

Nice to know I'm in good company.

Sherry

Kathy said...

Joanna, I am so sorry for your loss. Your post is a loving tribute to a beautiful strong woman.

noexcuses said...

What a beautiful and loving tribute to your mother! I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing such a special lady with your readers. What a blessing she was to everyone who knew her.

Mari said...

I never met your mom, and yet your tribute to her has me in tears. What a special lady she was! Praying for you in this loss.

Tom Sightings said...

So sorry for your loss, but she was one brave lady and you are a brave family. May blessings go out to you and yours.

Terra said...

Heart breaking and beautiful, and a great blessing to you that she is now with Jesus where you will meet her again.

Debbie said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I've yet to face that. But when I do, I hope I'm able to give my mom the same respect, love and wonderful tribute to her as you gave to your mom. My prayers are with you.

Hilary said...

Oh Joanna, I'm so sorry for the loss of your beautiful mother. Such a touching tribute and a tender sendoff. Sending hugs your way.

Jeanie said...

Oh, my. I am so sad and sorry you have to experience the loss of such remarkable and wonderful woman. Your tribute is beautiful -- the sort that makes us all wish we had known her too -- and in a way, now I feel as though I do. It sounds as though she died with the same grace with which she lived. Every word here rings true and bright. I know the holiday season will be different for you this year and in years to come. But you will carry with you forever the beautiful memories this amazing woman gave you, and really, isn't that the greatest gift of all?

Ms Sparrow said...

How very lovely and touching! You have summed up what it takes to be a wonderful mom and a beautiful human being!

Terri Buster said...

I am so sorry for your loss. You have written such a sweet tribute to her- I am sure she is smiling at you from heaven. Blessings!

Mocadeaux said...

I'm so sorry for your family's loss. But thank you for sharing this absolutely beautiful tribute to your mom with us. She sounds like she was a dear, kind soul who walked the talk of love every day. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

bill lisleman said...

So very sad but yet such a wonderful post. The standing outside on the front porch is great story. I hope that when the time comes I'll be able to leave peacefully from home.
All the best to you and your family.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Oh, Joanna. I'm so sorry to hear of your wonderful mom's passing. What a beautiful tribute to someone who really was -- hands down -- the world's best Mom. I'm glad for her and for you that her last illness was brief and that she was able to make decisions at the end that made sense for her and that you were all able to share this time and experience with her. I know you'll miss her forever, but she'll live forever in your heart and in your warm memories, so beautifully expressed in this very powerful, moving post.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Sounds like she went home having lived a FULL and MEANINGFUL life. I'm sorry for your loss, Joanna.
This is such a magnificent tribute, what an amazing and loving woman you had for your mother.

Secret Agent Woman said...

I'm so sorry to hear that. She sounds like a wonderful mom and I know your heart is hurting.

CiCi said...

I am crying for so many reasons. You had a dear kind mother to raise you. You enjoyed so many years learning from her by example as well as by what she told you. And you spent time with her that can never be replaced. You are blessed beyond words. Take the hug I offer you and add it to the others being given to you and know you are also special to all of us.

Betty W said...

Oh Joanna!! My deepest and sincerest condolences. You wrote this tribute so beautifully, I can feel your pain and hope God in his wisdom can give you comfort in this time of saying goodbye!
((Hugs))

Tammy said...

JJ I'm so sorry to hear about your Mom. She was a beautiful lady and from the sounds of it a wonderful woman who will be missed greatly by all who knew her. I'm sending you a big hug my friend and thinking of you and your whole family.

Marcia Shaw Wyatt said...

My heart goes out to you, Joanna. I know this holiday will be difficult - it is for me too. I lost my mom in June - so for both of us, this is a first. As Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful, I've been focusing on that as much as possible. I'm thankful for all the special moments I've had with loved ones, and for all the memories I have of those special moments. They will warm me this holiday and I pray yours will do the same for you. God Bless you and your family during this most difficult time.

Anita said...

Wow! What a Mom! Reading your story makes me miss her, too, even though I've never met her. She was a pure gift to her family and to the world.

May God bless you and your family, and all who loved her.

Chris H said...

Reading this made me cry. I am so sorry your Mom has passed away, she will be a HUGE loss for everyone in her family and wider community.
{{{HUGS}}}

ladyfi said...

I'm so very very sorry to hear this. What a beautiful tribute to your beautiful mother.

beth said...

this is one of the most beautiful tributes i have ever read.

your mother was so loved {as are you} and it's so obvious here with all of these amazing words and photos.

i am so sorry for your loss and know that you have been blessed for a lifetime...being part of her.

xo

Relyn Lawson said...

I came here to wish you a happy Thanksgiving and instead find myself feeling so sad for you. I am so sorry for your loss. May the Prince of Peace bring you comfort today.

miruspeg said...

What a beautiful, beautiful tribute to your wonderful Mum and I know she will be in your heart forever.
Big hugs to you Joanna.
Peggy xxxx

savannah said...

you have my heart, sugar. xoxox

Barbara Shallue said...

Oh, Joanna, I'm so sorry. I recently lost my father and a year ago, I was with my father-in-law as he passed. It is heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time. My mother isn't strong, but I'm grateful I still have her and my mother-in-law, at least for a little while longer. Hugs and prayers to you! This is a beautiful tribute to your mom! You can see in her smile she has a beautiful soul.

BLOGitse said...

I'm sorry for your loss.
Thanks for sharing this beautiful post. Hugs!

Cindy said...

Hi Joanna, I am so sorry to hear of the passing of your Mom, What a beautiful tribute to her, she sounds like a wonderful Mom. sending you a big hug, there is so much to learn in your post, love and family, nothing else matters my friend. love to you.

Holly said...

This is beautiful...just like your Mamma. She has raised and brought forth an amazing woman in you. I love you.

schmidleysscribblins.com said...

Fabulous. You were so fortunate to have her in your life for so long. Dianne

Attila the Mom said...

Thinking about you, my friend.xoxox

christina said...

what a beautiful, tender and love filled post about your mother. my prayers are with you at this time. god has a lovely and giving angel he has called home... an angel who has taught me a bit on loving teenagers. wink.
xoxo

grannyann said...

Joanna, I am sorry to hear about your mother. What a beautiful lady. I loved your post about her....what a tribute!
I wish I had more time to just post and comment but time goes so fast. Thinking of you. I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season and let's wish for a better government in the year to come!!!!
love
ann

Cindy L said...

JJ, I am sending you love, sympathy, and my thoughts. I am so sorry to read about the loss of your mother. What a beautiful tribute you've written for your beautiful mother. I looked and at each one of the photos you posted -- thank you for sharing them with us, so that we can know your mom better. Take care of yourself, and let us know how you are doing when you come back. xoxo

angelcel said...

So, so sorry. Sending big hugs xoxo

anne h said...

<3
all for you - all the time

She Who Carries Camera said...

I have tears running down my face. Sending you a huge hug. Sorry I am so late in seeing this.

Nezzy (Cow Patty Surprise) said...

Oh sweetie, what a beautiful tribute to a beautiful Mama. I just had to pop in and tell you how much my heart aches for you.

May God wrap His big old comfortin' arms around you and shower you in his sweet, sweet peace.

Take care darlin' and celebrate your Christmas in the way your Mama would want you to. I can only imagine the Christmas she's havin' in the presence of the Son!

Sendin' you my heart and big old Ozark hugs!!!

dkzody said...

That's a very beautiful story of your mother who must have been a very beautiful person all of her life. My condolences on your loss, but joy for your mother, assured that she will celebrate Christmas with choirs of angels around God's throne this year, and every year, joining my mother and father.

Marilyn *Pink Martinis and Pearls* said...

Joanna, what a beautiful tribute to your mom. So much love shared and you were both so lucky to be able to verbalize it to each other. I am very sorry for your loss especially at this time of year.

Paula Wooters said...

What a beautiful tribute for a beautiful woman, Joanna! You were blessed! My heart goes out to you as you mourn her loss.

Marla said...

Sweet Joanna,

What an amazing gift, the memory of your mother. After reading this, I feel as though I knew her and loved her. Just beautiful.

My heart is heavy for you. Truly. There are simply no words, just love and prayers. How I wish there was more.

Marla

Mike said...

I haven't been around blogland much lately so I didn't see this. I'm so sorry. She sounded like a wonderful woman. May peace be with her and you too.

Suldog said...

Joanna:

I can't believe I've been such a crummy blog friend to have missed this. My sincerest condolences.

Lilly said...

Just beautiful. A truly wonderful woman who will be sorely missed. But what a legacy she has left you all. I am so glad you have your siblings to share the load. You can take great comfort from the fact your mother did it her way. I hope you are doing well. It's tough. Big hugs to you xx

Mrs4444 said...

Joanna, I'm so very sorry for your loss. Clearly, you were blessed to have such a mother, and I know you miss her very much. Sending healing thoughts your way...

Simone said...

JJ, I'm so very late to commenting on this post but it hit me hard, my friend when you said you truly understood. I know you do. Your mom had such a sweet and beautiful spirit and I know I would've loved her the moment I met her, just like I adore her daughter. When my dad in law (Dad) was killed recently, all I could do is hold on to the memories that we had together. He was a funny man. He was quite critical and sarcastic by naive and loved his family. He embraced me as "Ramon" or "Kid". Just reading your precious memories filled my eyes with tears. May you always hold on tight to your mom's precious memories.