The Last of Her Generation
An inspiration to all of us in her family, my mother passed away on her 107th birthday this year.
Mom was the child of immigrant parents who came from England and Italy in the early 20th century. A tiny woman, 4’ 11” tall at her tallest, she had the strength, stamina, and will to raise a family of seven and maintain a healthy 47-year marriage, which lasted until my father’s death.
Mom remained in her home through her 106th birthday. She fell on the day after Christmas. She had to be admitted to a nursing home because she could no longer walk, and we could no longer care for her in her home.
For so long, not even one support person, not one member of the family, was allowed a person-to-person visit. Alone, in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people, for six weeks we couldn’t see her because of the COVID-19 shutdown of nursing homes
I believe the nursing home staff did their best caring for her. (They sang “Happy Birthday” to her shortly before her death.)
She quickly lost ground physically and mentally. The person she had become was not the mom I remembered, and yet she was. Every few weeks a new outbreak of COVID closed the nursing home to visitors, two weeks at a time. Our opportunities to visit her during 2021 were sporadic.
I think one thing we’ve learned from the pandemic and the shutdown of our normal means of socializing and communicating, is that we need in-person contact. We were created to be in community. Zoom and other social media have filled in some of the gaps. However, school children lost most of the school year, people lost their means of making a living, and many people suffered, and still suffer, from depression and other mental illness. And nowhere was the need more obvious than in nursing homes, where our senior citizens died from loneliness.
I’m grateful that, on the day before her death, I visited with her for several hours. I believe she knew I was there, and I’ll always treasure that time.
I’m an emotional person, yet, when my brother called with the news of her death, I didn’t cry. I think one day something may trigger the tears. I’ve had almost a year to mourn for her, to watch her memory and health deteriorate. Therefore, her death didn’t come as a shock.
I helped my brother clean out her house, where we discovered so much more about her and were reminded of all she had been to us for so many years.
She has left me with many wonderful memories. I’ll miss my mother. But I also am comforted because I know she’s in heaven with my dad and her loved ones whom she has missed.
I love you, Mom. I’m thankful you.
Hold your loved ones close. If you can’t visit them, call, or write, or message them, or send a photo. Sometimes in our busyness, we say, “I’ll go another day.” There may not be another day.
“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise.” Psalm 100:4