Caring for Mom has taken priority in my life at this point, but I am thankful she is still with us.
You see, on this very night (Jan. 30) in 1991, my Daddy went to heaven after a massive heart attack. I can't imagine not having Mom during the past 21 years, too. Thank you, Lord, for sparing me one parent.
Mom moved in with us in July, and then in October, she moved behind us into her own little home. Having her here, instead of 20 minutes away as she was before, makes it much easier for me to assist her, visit with her throughout the day and give her lots of hugs.
Oh yes, and tuck her in each night. That has become one of our little (favorite) routines. I call ahead and ask her to turn on the porch light and unlock the door, and she does. Then I give my signature knock and step in to her welcoming smile.
She's usually in her favorite chair reading or crocheting or just looking at family photos.
Sometimes we talk about the good ol' days, and Mom gets a little mixed up with where those days ended and where we are in the here and now. And that's okay. I explain things and we go from that point on in our conversation.
After our nightly visit, I get her sleepy-time tea ready and administer her night-time meds, then we chat a bit longer about what we've both done on that day. Mom is always grateful for company in the evening hours, especially. I stay awhile and then we always pray before I head back home.
Praying together is a meaningful tradition in our family and goes back to the days when I was a child in our home at 3201 Oakwood Avenue. Daddy would call all of us into the living room and read some scripture, and then we'd all kneel down for prayer time.
Lemme tell ya, eight people in a small living room isn't easy when there's also an elephant-sized sofa and a matching armchair -- especially when six kids are trying hard to "not touch each other."
Then there were two end tables, a small TV and Mom's flower shelves (3 feet long, about 4 feet high) by the east window. I remember it was facing east because "African Violets need morning sun due to their delicate nature" and Mom's violets were prolific bloomers. Add to that a couple kitchen chairs we'd drug in for Bible time, and there was hardly room to sneeze.
Back to kneeling for prayer. It was crowded, but we managed, somehow, with 16 legs and feet sticking out everywhere in what was left of that tiny room. I'm pretty sure some sibling toes were touching at one point or another, but we weren't allowed to pick a fight during prayer time. So we kept our heads bowed. Ten minutes, fifteen, twenty --
Those nights we all took turns praying seemed to define the meaning of "eternity" for me. I got sooooo tired of trying to hold still and squeeze my eyes shut.
Dad would start out praying, then Mom would pray, then the first child next and on down the line to #8 in the family, which was my little brother. But I've gotten off track, here, and jumped from Mom and me at night to the whole Keltie clan at 3201 Oakwood Avenue...
Just awhile ago -- this very night -- Mom and I held each other and bowed our heads together. I asked the Lord to bless her with sweet, peaceful rest and sleep. I thanked Him for Mom and mentioned the blessing Dad was to us all, but I didn't mention that it was 21 years ago tonight he died ...
I then asked for safety through the night, blessings for my siblings and all of Mom's children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren -- two of whom belong to hubby and me! Last but certainly not least, I thank the Lord for His love and kindness in sending His son Jesus to die on the cross for us. Then we both say Amen.
I'm so thankful Mom is close by where I can watch over her. She did that for me when I was a child, and I'm glad to do that for her now. We both miss Daddy and talk about him a lot. Most days, Mom shows me his picture and talks about how they met and the early years of their lives together. She often seems to grieve his death again, but today she said something very important. Something pretty profound that I hope to remember if I am in her shoes some day...
"When things happen and you don't have your companion anymore, you have to go on ... you can't just give up and not live your life. You have to make the best of it."
I can't imagine how hard the past 21 years have been for Mom. Daddy was her best friend, her sweetheart, her provider and protector. So I give her one more kiss and hug before I leave. As she waits to lock the door behind me, I grin, "Sleep tight, and don't let the bedbugs bite!" She chuckles every time I say that. As the door closes between us, I tell her I love her and hear her say she loves me, too.
Outside, I take a deep breath ... a transition breath of sorts between leaving Mom's and stepping back into our place. As I do, I glance up and look at the stars. Tonight they are brilliant (!) and seem close enough to pick and put in my pocket. Somewhere out beyond them, my Heavenly Father resides. My earthly father (Daddy) is at perfect peace there, too, but I still miss him.
Thank You, Father, for sparing me one parent. May I be a blessing to her while I still can -- and may I do all that I do for Your honor and glory! Amen.