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Our Loss is Mom’s Gain

October 30, 2021

Another Way for week of October 22, 2021

Some readers have already found this news on Facebook or newspaper websites etc. I post my columns on this blog a week after newspaper publication.

Our Loss is Mom’s Gain

Back about September 19, things began looking like the end was nearing for our dear mother. “I think I’m dying,” she told one of my sisters.

Something told all of us to make a point of visiting her.  We weren’t there all at the same time, but my brother and his son flew in from Florida, sister flew in from North Carolina, and my husband and I had already planned to leave Sept. 20 to drive to Indiana. And my oldest sister lives there. Nearby grandchildren and greats also stopped in to see Mom/Grandma. Some had good visits, some found her too sleepy or lethargic or not up to talking much. She had some good days with some humorous moments enjoying donuts dunked in coffee and a fastfood hamburger with fries and a shake. She also got her beautiful white hair shampooed and styled. She was wiped out the next day and mostly slept.

Mom always took time for morning devotions. Here she is in North Carolina on my sister’s patio.

Two of our grandchildren were able to visit. At ages 8 and 5, they were full of questions and curiosity. The oldest, Sam, especially wanted Great Grandma Miller to open her eyes, to recognize him. He wanted to know how old she was, when she was born, where she worked. She finally managed a weak smile for Sam and Owen. They were helped in their processing of these difficult moments by recalling when their beloved dog Ike died. Sam remembered they also fed Ike a cheeseburger (not his usual diet) for his last meal before being put to sleep.

We are so very grateful many were able to visit Mom in her final days.

Mother could no longer enjoy life either, although she treasured and craved visits and companionship. We were thankful that the covid rules had been relaxed at her nursing care facility, and she could have many visitors.

I dug out Dr. Ira Byock’s still-current and excellent guide, Dying Well: Peace and Possibilities at the End of Life (Riverhead Books, 1997). In 2001, I had the privilege of doing pre-interviews with Byock on the phone for two television documentaries Mennonite Media produced on end-of-life care. He has long specialized in providing hospice care for those dying. His own eyes were opened to the needs of the dying when his father dealt with cancer. The father helped Ira understand the issues he was facing, some as simple as worrying that he didn’t “smell so good” anymore.

One paragraph in particular stood out to me recently: “People who are dying often feel a sense of constant pressure to adapt to unwanted change. As a person’s functioning declines, the physical environment becomes threatening.” He describes how a simple trip to the bathroom becomes a major event. Family members too often begin acting differently towards and with the loved one: being serious and “even solemn in one’s presence.” Friends or family may avoid the loved one out of their own emotional pain. The dying individual may feel awkward, worry that they don’t look good, and feel isolated as people talk about them.

This is undeniably sad but can be expected, Byock says. He provides very helpful insights, questions, and directives in his book.

On this trip visit to Mom, our final one with her, I took to massaging her feet. Her feet and toes, after 97 years of work and then later in life walking every day for exercise, were so worn, cracked, not pretty. She would have been the first to agree and in fact often complained about how bad they looked. I took cream and rubbed them to offer a little love and relief. My heart still breaks to remember it. You do what you can. And are enormously grateful for the good years you had together and happy that she now doesn’t have to live in the in-between space of slipping away from her life and her loved ones.

My tears now help with healing as we honor Mom’s life and her authentic witness. Thank you, Mother for your love, your example, and your faith.

***

Mother’s obituary is at https://www.yoderculpfuneralhome.com/obituary/bertha-miller . For friends or relatives far or near, her memorial service is now planned for Nov. 13 at 11 a.m. at North Goshen Mennonite Church in Indiana. We will be greeting/receiving friends at the church beginning about 10 a.m. that morning. Masks are encouraged. A video will be available at some point after the service.

Comments are welcome here or at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or send to Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

8 Comments
  1. Thanks for sharing these precious memories. Losing a parent is hard, but especially so a loving mother. Blessings as you mourn.

    • Thanks for your message. I’ve known of mothers who weren’t so loving, and I’m very very grateful for Mom. Blessings to you as well.

  2. Bev Silver permalink

    Thank you – Love, Beverly

  3. Gathering around the bedside, so poignant. Your mother was vibrant almost all of her life, had fluffy hair that I envy, and was an authentic witness.

    We saw Aunt Ruthie 9 years in decline while my mother was sick for only 5 days before she died. In fact, when I talked to Mother on the phone she sounded so ALIVE. I never made it to her bedside, my one regret.

    You honor Mom with this tribute which will aid in your healing process. Hugs, Melodie. ((( )))

    • In later years, her white fluffy hair was charming. Beautiful black curls when she was a little girl.
      I’m sorry you didn’t have a chance to make it to your mother’s bedside. I have regrets … that we didn’t make it to Indiana for her 95th birthday, and that we didn’t celebrate their 60th anniversary, because Dad was in failing health then. But thanks for your kind words and virtual hugs.

  4. I’m feeling for you as you navigate this earthly world without your mother now. That’s difficult, even when we know it’s their time and it’s best for them. I’m glad you got to see you mother again shortly before her death.
    Sending hugs your way!

  5. I would say my only regret is that we didn’t live closer together, I’m very thankful she loved to travel and we got to see her frequently and letters–and later phone calls seemed to keep us very connected. She loved reading my columns which appeared in her local paper. We never got her to texting or email, unfortunately. I do miss calling her. Thanks for your comment and hugs!

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