I have been away from the blogging keyboard for the past month, dealing with the sudden decline, then death of my mother. Thanks for waiting for me. Mom was in decline from Parkinson’s Disease for the past 5 years, the last year and a half in full-time skilled nursing. I started this blog two years ago so that I could write (in small chunks), yet still be readily available to my mom. We knew this day was approaching last July when she just could not summon the energy to be interested in anything– food, news, a new pair of PJ’s, a wiggly grandchild… not even chocolate could elicit an emotional response or sense of thankfulness. And yet, we knew she was still “in there.” I could make a joke and get her unforgettable “heh-heh.” The last thing she ever said to me was, clear-as-a-bell, “Now, you take care.” Then she went silent, took to her bed, became feverish and semi-comatose, and God, in his great mercy, called her home. In the Old Testament, biblical heroes were said to pull up their feet, breathe their last, and be gathered to their people. And so it went for my mom, my heroine, strong and true to the end.
In her last days, I held her paper-skin hand, kissed her, and told her over and over again how much I loved her, how much God loved her, how eagerly Jesus was waiting for her, and that it was OK to go. We read her Scripture and prayed. I knitted. We listened to hymns. Keeping watch is a time-honored, and somewhat lonely biblical and human action.
The Book of Common Prayer’s nighttime prayers include praying what I’ve come to call the Three W’s: prayer for those who are working all night, those who are not sleeping but weeping, and those who are watching through the night with a dying loved one.
Oh, how I embraced the knowledge that people I don’t even know were praying us through the watching…and now, the weeping! Time rolls on, our elders now all gone. My husband remarked it was a strange mix of a childlike bemusement of feeling orphaned while simultaneously taking on the mantle of “eldest” in the family.
In the evening of my life I will look to the sunset,
At a moment in my life when the night is due.
And the question I shall ask only I can answer,
Did I keep Faith – strong and true?
Did I fill the world with love my whole life through?
So, it is a bitter, yet sweet time of loss, memories, and knowing that we must now make our move. Literally. We will leave our small, cozy home at Trout Creek and move to the bluff permanently next year. We will leave our church family of 25 years. My mom’s leaving is a springboard to more leaving. It’s ironically sad and liberating, both. Three days ago,
the late afternoon at the bluff was dark, cold, impersonal. I was thinking of mom when the sun broke beneath the cloud bank and lit up the waters like a cosmic smile. Mom’s words went right through me: “Everything is all right. It is just right. Now, YOU TAKE CARE!
Because there’s so much death and life “stuff” to sift out, sort, and settle, I will take a long hiatus from this blog. This time next year, I hope to really have the personal space to get working on my book projects. I am grateful that you have read along faithfully with my little musings. Thank you for reading. And, as always, remember that standing on this side of the river, there’s a home waiting for you on the other side with God in Jesus Christ.
 Fill the World With Love lyrics, Petula Clark, as amended by JAPW; camp song, Cheley Colorado Camps
3 thoughts on “In the Sunset of Our Lives”
In the 1950s there were ads on the radio constantly–“Take care and buy Sinclair.”
Thank you for blessing me with your writings.
Julie, Thank you for sharing the story of your mother’s home-going. Such a lovely picture you paint of staying faithfully by your Mom’s side. “Oh, no!” was my next response, when I read that we will loose you and Mark from our church family. What a lot of changes you’ve been going through. How great that we serve a God who doesn’t change, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I will be one of those waiting to follow your blog when you are settled. Blessings!