It's a bright sunny day today. Folks are out, walking the beach as waves lap onto the shore. Brown grass has quickly turned green again after a few days of refreshing rain.
Right now, as I write, I hear a little one singing her heart out as she and her family walk along the edge of the seashore. I smile. I know my Mom would smile too. During this moment, on this day, this child has a song in her heart and she's not afraid to sing it out loud!
Sometimes, I become so bogged down with the necessities of what needs to be done that I don't listen to God's nudging to walk the beach, go out to the garden, curl up with a cup of tea and His Word or....simply sing a song.
My Mom would do that...just break into song without warning. Something would remind her of a song and away she would go. This morning, as Kip listened while I let random thoughts of the past four + months flow through my head and out of my mouth, I unexpectedly started to sing! Recollection of the beautiful sunshine beaming into Mom's Hospice room the morning she passed away triggered an outburst of Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam.....a song Mom taught us at an early age. All of a sudden my eyes grew wide and we both started to laugh. This is exactly what my Mom frequently did!
Our kids were very familiar with this unique trait of Mom's. She had been doing it since they were born and the songs continued to flow through her even as she lay in Hospice. One certain conversation about the faithfulness of God's blessings is a good example. Bedridden and struggling through the final part of her journey on earth it would seem she had every reason in the world to complain, but she didn't. Instead, she talked about the many blessings God had given her throughout her lifetime. Then, her quiet little voice paused. Softly she began to sing, "Count your Blessings." I joined in and it was a very precious moment as Mom once again transformed a tough situation into moments of gratitude.....through song. As her body's need for sleep increased, I used the time to design and embroider the refrain of that song onto a pillow top as a reminder of that treasured time together. It will always be a powerful reminder of how important it is to embrace all the blessings God fills my life with, regardless of circumstance.
Our son Kris has always opened his eyes really wide, looked straight at Kip and laughed out loud when I've done this......"Ohhhh, who does Mom remind you of?" Now that MY Mom (his Nannybird) is in Heaven, I know times of impromptu singing will warm my heart. It was a big part of Mom's personality and it has become a growing part of my personality as the years pass by.
We are told that as we get older we tend to become more like our parents. Well Mom, when I grow up I want to be just like you!
"Let everything that breathes sing praises to the LORD....! (Psalm 150: 6)
"Big Hugs Mom...I love you so very much." These are the last words I spoke to my Mom, just 4 hours before she took her first breath of Heaven on Friday Sept. 5th, 2014 at 2 a.m.
We arrived back in Calgary on Wednesday, Sept 3rd, around 4 p.m. Although extremely weak and largely non-responsive, Mom knew we had arrived. When we left Calgary two weeks prior, I had not told her when we would return because I did not want her trying to hang on. It had been tough to leave, but we had some things to take care of at home. I stayed in constant touch with the Hospice staff and my brother, along with a few awesome friends who kept me updated on how Mom was doing. There had been a drastic downturn....her time on earth was drawing to a close.
Tuesday, Sept. 2nd, enroute to Calgary again, my precious brother held the phone to Mom's ear so I could tell her we were on our way to be with her. I felt it was okay to tell her then. While looking out the window of a hotel room, I distinctly remember my Mom's response to these words, "Big Hugs Mom. I love you so very much." She could not speak anymore, she could only groan, yet I recognized the pattern of her groaning.... "I love you too honey." My brother recognized it also.
I felt such an urgency to get to her, yet I was trying to be calm...and wise. I didn't want Kip pressing too hard as we continued our long journey back through the Rocky Mountains. It was a time of completely trusting God to fulfill HIS will. If He wanted us to be with her in her final hours He would enable us to get there in time. If Jesus came for her before we got there, then that is what God wanted.
I cannot describe how grateful I was to the Lord for enabling me to be with Mom during her final hours. Interestingly, she stopped moaning once we arrived. Prior to our departure back to Calgary a dear friend of mine reminded me of a passage I have often mentioned to others..2 Corinthians 4: 16-18 and 2 Corinthians 5: 1-10. 2 Corinthians 5, verses 2-4 were particularly relevant....I believe Mom was groaning because she was ready, and longing to go Home. Once her family was together again, I believe peace filled her heart. Perhaps that is why the groaning stopped. She knew Jesus was coming for her very soon and she was ready knowing everyone was fine.
My brother Art, Kip and I stayed with Mom the following day, Sept. 4th. It was a good day, perhaps it could even be described as an awesome day. Mom was physically non-responsive as we chatted, reminisced and shared times of laughter but we firmly believed she could hear everything. This was validated when Mom's prayer partner and close friend arrived later in the day. She had flown in from Armstrong B.C. and came to the Hospice right away. Within a few minutes of arriving she stood at Mom's bedside and sang two of Mom's favourite hymns. As her voice rose with the melody during the first hymn, Mom's eyebrows lifted! Physically, nothing else changed....just a lift of her eyebrows with the music, and only during the first of four verses. It was a very, very beautiful moment.
Early evening, two ministers from Mom's church (who were also friends) came to be with Mom. Her breathing had drastically changed and we all knew Jesus was waiting to carry her Home. No words can describe the gratitude in our hearts for the privilege to say good-bye and give her our blessing to take His hand.
I wear Mom's rings on a neck-chain now. I'm not sure why, except that they are a sentimental reminder of my precious and cherished Mom, with whom I was best friends. Tears have flowed a few times....a healthy expression of physically missing her. Yet, my heart is not heavy, nor does it feel pain. I do not grieve but rejoice instead for I know Mom has entered Heaven's Gates and she is completely whole once again. I did not leave my Mom, frail and ravaged with cancer back in Calgary this time for truly she is now fully alive in God's Presence! I know she is with me wherever I go and I know she is smiling effortlessly once again.
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." John 14: 1-4
"Jesus answered: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14: 6
"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31
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