Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Remembering My Mom ~ Remembering Her Words



When I first began writing regular posts about my parents, it was easy to find the time and energy to write. I would sit down at my laptop, and before I knew it I'd pecked out some sincere and, I hope, honoring thoughts about each of them.

But that was back when my parents were still with us.

But TODAY I feel like I have to write...

Today is the anniversary of the day my mother passed away. I can hardly believe it's been a whole year. Then on the other hand, it feels like a lifetime ago that my sisters and I walked up and down the halls of my parents' hospitals. It feels like a lifetime ago that I spent weeks at a time in Maryland, sitting beside my parents' hospital beds, talking with nurses and doctors about my parents' prognoses. It seems like a lifetime ago that I was hopeful that my mother might actually recover, especially when her health miraculously improved.

It seems like a lifetime ago that I prayed she'd someday return home.

Little did I know that my Mom was on her way Home... Her heavenly Home.

Three weeks ago I shared three things that I remember about my Dad. It was actually hard to narrow it down to three. Like I said, I'm forever a Daddy's Girl.

Today, instead of sharing what I remember about my Mom, I want to share the things she spoke near the end of her life that I'll never forget. This list could go on and on, but I'll narrow it down to three.

"Yes you can."

As I've shared before, my Mom was a true leader. She was the kind of woman that changed the atmosphere of any room she entered. A close friend of mine once used the word regal to describe her, and I wholeheartedly agree. She was a woman of courage, forthrightness and class. She held her head high in any and every situation that came her way. It's amazing to think of the woman she became after growing up in a poor, rural segregated town in Northumberland County Virginia. 

Perhaps she inherited her "chutzpa" from her mother. She once told me that my grandmother once told her, "Daughter, God gave you a mouth. Make sure you use it when you need to." My mother carried her mother's words to her career as a college dean and to her leadership roles at church, her sorority and many other community organizations.

So it should have been no surprise when my Mom challenged my sisters and me to rise to the occasion when needed. The last time she did so, she was sitting up in her hospital bed, seemingly unaware of the activity around her. My father had just passed away, and my sisters and I were planning his funeral program. When my sister Sherri and I asked our sister Lori if she would share some words during the service, Lori was hesitant and unsure. We all knew we'd be very emotional that day.

We went around and around for a bit, encouraging Lori to at least plan to speak. At some point Lori said something like, "I don't know... It's going to be a really hard day. I'm not sure if I can do it."

Out of nowhere my mother's voice rose from within her with a power we hadn't heard for a long time.

"Yes you can," she said emphatically. "Yes you can."

I wasn't even aware she was following our conversation. But Merlene Elmira Adair had spoken. And we had heard. Needless to say, Lori spoke at my father's service and did an amazing job. We all knew she could, yet my Mom was the only one who could transfer the courage for her to do so.


Pop Pop and Grandmommy with their Grandkids

"So pretty..."

I was hesitant to share these few words, because they felt kinda self-centered. Somehow though, they meant so much to me. So here goes...

One day I was helping tuck my Mom in for her afternoon nap in the hospital, and she looked into my face and said, "So pretty." Two simple words. As little girls, and even as grown women, we want to know that we are seen - especially by our parents. We want to know they think we're beautiful - on the inside and out. We want to know that they see themselves in us, that they see the "good" that they passed on.

I'll always remember these words of affirmation from my mother. It felt good to hear. It feels especially good to remember them today.

"I need Daddy."

My Mom spoke these words days after my Daddy passed away. For as long as I can remember, my mother referred to my father as "Daddy" when she talked to us. When talking to him, he was "Baby". To others he was "Carl". To my sisters and me, he was Daddy.



So when she said "I need Daddy", I knew she was was speaking of my father. I knew she missed him deeply. I also suspected her health would begin to decline after he passed. She wanted to be with him. She couldn't imagine life without him.

As I tear up thinking of losing my Mom exactly a year ago, I understand. I understand her wanting to be with him again. After 56 years of marriage and life together, she didn't know how to live without him.



Today it does my heart good to think of this one thing -- now she doesn't have to live without him. They are together forever and ever. 

And I thank the Lord for that.