It’s taken me a little time to process. I spent the remainder of January 10th, after 1:30 PM, walking in a fog, making calls, meeting with hospice. The 11th, family descended. All my brothers, my sister, my son, nephew, nieces, daughter and her family. All inside one house. Most staying here overnight.
It was a strange day because my sis and I knew that while we had everyone here, we had to go through mom’s things to see what everyone wanted. Of course, her artwork flew of the walls. Everyone wanted a memory. I was left with a watercolor of a sunflower she’d done for me. We sorted through her clothing, bagging up what wasn’t wanted to give away. We parceled out her jewelry—so may mementos from my father’s deployments during the Vietnam War, later gifts, usually with diamonds when they had more money, because my mom loved bling. Treasures we’ll wear while we think of her.
The day she passed, my daughter was vacuuming the house after checking her to see if she was comfortable. Mom was beyond speech by that time, only half here. She no longer responded to our voices. I brought in a bright yellow washcloth to wash her face and began to do so, when I finally noticed she no longer breathed.
My sister, who had driven down from northern Arkansas walked into the house a minute later.
Two elderly men from the local funeral home came to collect her some time later. My son-in-law and I helped move her from the bed to the gurney. It seemed fitting that I should help lift her one last time. My SIL helped wheel her out to the hearse. One last gesture of respect.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve lost so much—my beautiful grandmother, my strong & kind father, my lovely mother. I stayed to care for them. My daughter followed me to care for me and them. I’m surrounded by loving family, and I know that was by my mother’s design. I can shed tears, not many, because that’s just not me, but once we lay her to rest, the work begins, because my daughter and her family will fill this quiet house, moving in to this sturdy home my father built.
In mama’s last days, she talked to my dad a lot. Long conversations that I only understood in snippets. He was waiting for her.