I’ve been preparing for the most important meeting of my life…but it’s not what you might be thinking. My last trip to Manitoba was in early January, I had a sickly feeling that it would be the last time I would see her. She was frail, weak and really did not have much of an appetite anymore. Over the few days I was there we took a ton of pictures and video as we reminisced about many of the different events in our life as I was growing up. How she had been more than the greatest mother ever, but also held the roll of my father.
You see, when I was nine years old our father passed away. Losing a dad at such a young age was one of the toughest things I have ever gone through. I think that is why it is so tough to say what I thought was my final goodbyes to my dear, sweet mother. We held each other… I kissed her cheek and tearfully said our goodbyes. Mom sacrificed everything for us, giving up her personal life and a high profile job at a local nursing home to take a lower paying job as a lab nurse with regular hours so she could be home with us when she needed to be. We obviously missed the finances, but she ensured we always had what we really needed.
We’ve known for the last few years that her health and mind are failing. If it wasn’t for our sister Leanne, Mom would have had to go into a nursing home a few years ago. Leanne’s son Caleb is grown and out on his own so she has been determined to care for Mom at home, no matter what. She has nursing help from time to time, but basically does everything for our mother. I’m in awe at how she stays so calm, loving and keeps it all together when she has so much to do and has very little time for herself. Her gentleness and caring ways are something only a loving daughter can provide. Not many daughters have this God given ability. She is truly a saint.
For the last year, we try to call every night to say goodnight. Many times the conversation is one-sided as Mom always seems so exhausted and only wants to sleep, but I know she enjoys hearing our voices. When Keith and Kara say hi and send their love there seems to be an instant spark in her voice, although it doesn’t last long. Since my January visit, I started to read inspirational stories to her. Some nights, I felt she was getting something from it where other nights I think it was just more about hearing her “baby’s” (I’m the youngest of three) voice. Although Mom may not have taken something from the stories every night, I know reading them out loud was helping me personally and really helped put a perspective on what matters most.
This past week we got the call we had been dreading. Mom has been losing blood for months and the transfusions don’t seem to be helping much. The prognosis isn’t good. Our hope was that she would be able to come home for one more visit. To see her friends from church, perhaps take a drive and see the old neighborhood and spend some quality time with our family. My heart sank when I finally realized that this wasn’t going to be possible. At the end of our conversation, Leanne came up with an incredible idea. What if we brought everyone to her? Not chartering a plane for all her friends and family, but in pictures and small video messages.
This past Sunday, I attended her church with my brother, video camera and camera in hand. We got there early and explained to Pastor Greg what we wanted to do. At the beginning of his sermon, he announced why we were there and that friends that knew her could come by after service and provide special messages for Mom. Many members of the congregation who knew her (even after all these years) lined up to sign a huge card my brother put together. It brought tears to our eyes as friend after friend lined up to give their testimony of what our mother meant to them personally, all being captured by video. This entire event got me thinking. Why is it that this doesn’t happen more often? Why is it that we usually don’t hear about the wonderful things a loved one has meant until after they are gone? I’ve been to four different visitations in the last six months. It’s usually not until after someone dies that the family hears these amazing stories.
Something our family has never been shy with is the “I love you’s.” Every conversation with our mother since I can remember has ended by telling her how much she means to us. I guess losing a father so early in life made us appreciate her that much more.
We are so thankful for Leanne’s idea. It’s bringing us more peace at a very difficult time. This week, I’ll be busy scanning old pictures and piecing together the video to honour our mother. My flight is booked and I’ll be joined by my brother to go visit her. Because of the distance and circumstances, this may be the last time our family will all be together with our dear sweet mother. I can’t wait to see her, hold her and show her how her friends, church friends and family all love her so dearly. I know through all her pain, it will put a smile on her face, warm her heart and bring tears to her eyes.
Life is too short – way too short. We have all had regrets that we talk about at a funeral or visitation, we meant to do this… or we meant to do that… if only I knew it would have been different.
This week marks the 8th anniversary of losing our dear mother. I dug the article out to share with a friend that was going through a similar situation with his father. He immediately started the process to pull his own video together that he is going to play for his father, “before he’s gone”. It got me thinking. Others that have read this article may also be faced with something similar over the next year and may want to do something similar.
So, what does all this have to do with trucking, business or insurance? Absolutely nothing. I guess that’s one benefit of having the freedom to write about anything you want. If our experience even inspires one reader to make the call to someone they haven’t talked to in years, or tell a family member or a friend how they truly feel about them, I think it’s worth the ink… don’t you?