Sunday, April 08, 2012

Just Four Years

My mother died four years ago, April 8, 2012.

Today is Easter Sunday, the day that's all about resurrection.

When she lived in assisted living in Santa Monica, my mother loved coming to our house for holiday dinners.

On Easter or Christmas or her birthday, her wheel chair would be pushed up to one end of the table, and she enjoyed the bustle of the dogs and young adults around her.

My day began with going to Sunrise, making sure she was properly dressed, pushing her wheelchair to the car, lifting her into the front seat, folding up the wheelchair and heaving it into the back of the minivan, then driving to church.

After church I would bring her home for the afternoon and early evening, pushing her wheelchair up the ramp I had had built at the side of the steps up to the front door.

When she was tired, it took a while to get her into the car and back to her residence, into her nightgown and into bed.  Then I would drive home and hope that someone else had cleaned up the kitchen.

Many Sundays and holidays she would ask to stay at our house and not go back to the assisted living.  It was hard to say no, cheerfully, firmly.  It was heart-breaking.

In those days it often seemed to be my needs vs. hers, my happiness vs. hers.

Four years later, however, those tough times are just a memory.  I've had time to teach, travel, jog, and reflect.

On holidays, I miss seeing her at the end of the table, cheerfully listening to all the commotion, enjoying the cinnamon rolls or fruit salad.

On a daily basis, however, I don't think about my mother.  To some extent, she has been forgotten.

Death is like musical chairs: at some point you're out of the game, but everyone else continues to play.

We will celebrate a wedding for one of my daughters this June, and her grandmother would love to have been there.  She was such a romantic, believing in living happily ever after and loving babies.

But this year she would have been 93, and suffering four more years with Alzheimer's Disease was certainly not anything she wanted to do.

As a public health nurse in the 1950s, she used to talk about pneumonia being the Angel of release for some elderly persons trapped in ailing bodies.  She is released now, and I am four years closer to my own death.

The pattern of birth, life, and death is full of mystery and hard to accept.

At Easter, however, we are reminded of hope for resurrection.

My mother's death will forever rotate around Palm Sunday and Easter, like one of the moons revolving around Jupiter.  I pray to remember that