Had she lived four more weeks, my mother would be 95 years old today, April 28. When she was in the hospital, the doctor joked that she was close enough that we could say she was 95, but of course that could not be her official age.
This is one of the ways I will always remember Mother. One of her favorite things to do was sketch the scenery when we were out at the lake near where she lived. My sister and I would join her in that endeavor, and we all had sketchbooks filled with pictures. My mother would also draw on letters she wrote. Sometimes a bunny for Easter, or a flower for spring, or a snowman for winter, or autumn leaves falling. I’m so glad I saved many of those letters and pictures.
Mother had a heart attack on March 24, my sister’s birthday, and she died on March 28. I was able to get to Michigan the Wednesday prior, so I did have two days with her. On Thursday, she had that bloom that people often get before they are going to die. Mother was sitting up, looking good, enjoying the company, and for a little while we forgot that she was probably not going to survive the heart attack with the flu on top of that. It was a very blessed day. The kind of day that all families should have when they are about to lose someone so dear to them, especially if they make the most of it, and we did. We told stories, we sang songs, and all of the people who loved her dearly came by that day.
The following Wednesday, April 2, two of my kids, Mike and Dany, helped me sing Mother to heaven. That was a bit unusual, I know, but the church that she was connected to did not have their music ministers available. None of us thought the funeral would be right without music, so my niece borrowed two guitars from friends – one for me and one for Dany – and Mike shared his beautiful voice. We did hymns that Mother particularly liked, and it was a real bittersweet experience.
We planned the funeral service so all of the grandchildren would have a role of some kind, as that is so important in saying goodbye. Some were readers. Some were pall bearers. Some were Eucharistic Ministers. Some brought up the gifts at offertory, and one of my daughters, Anjanette, read a story she had written “Evelyn and the Blue Bunny”. My mother, Evelyn, introduced me to the book Bunny Blue when I was a child, and the tattered copy of that children’s book was one of the few I saved into adulthood. I then shared it with my kids, and then it was passed on to grandkids. It is such a wonderful story that we all have loved, and I’m sure my mother was smiling to hear it.
I didn’t plan to share this today. Most of you know I tend to keep some things more private, but I saw the birthday card that I had planned to send her on my desk, and I couldn’t stop thinking about her. It’s hard to wrap your mind around anything else when it is filled with memories and your heart is a bit heavy.