THE GIFT OF A MOTHER

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by Alethea Howard

My Divine Mother

May your grace and dignity shine throughout eternity.

May the glory of the Lord comfort you.

Her song “I love the Lord, he heard my cry.”

Her words, “A hundred years from today, you won’t know the difference, “

and “This too shall pass.”

I shall walk among the living. God will shine his light within me,

and I shall shine His light upon others.

For I am free to roam, to fly, and to have my being in spirit.

Oh my loving mother divine…so sweet, humble and kind.

You are forever on my mind.

“Whoopee!”

After staying overnight at the hospital with my mother, my sister arrived to relieve me Sunday morning so that I could go home and prepare for work. We were doing shifts so Mom wouldn’t be left alone. That night, after getting home and getting into bed, sitting up with my knees to my chest, I began to rock back and forth, crying at the top of my lungs like a wolf howling in the forest. I knew I was releasing and letting go of my physical connection with my mother. I feared what my neighbor would think if she heard me. Nevertheless, I couldn’t stop shouting, feeling that I would never have the privilege to touch her, to look into her eyes, to make her smile and laugh out loud, or to nourish her again. I knew then that my mother would be leaving this earth plane in a very short time.

The next morning my sister called and said, “the Doctor would like all us to come to the hospital.” She was determined not to tell me over the phone that her mother had passed on. I said to her, Mom is gone? “Yes,” she said. I already knew the night before that she would be passing on, and I was at peace with it.

I would go and take care of my mother every Thursday and stay all day to give my father a free day to do as he chooses. After expressing how much I loved her and that it was OK to go, that I would be OK, I cried and released a tear because I knew Mother was tired. She had been living with Alzheimer’s for fourteen years.

Every Thursday, I would arrive at my parents’ house at 9:30 am and stay until 7 pm or after 9 pm. I purchased breakfast on the way. Sometimes, Mother would feed herself; when she didn’t, I would feed her. I bathed, dressed her, cleaned the house, cooked lunch and dinner, and changed the bedding. Mother wouldn’t bend over the sink like she used to, so I would fill a bowl with water and no-rinse shampoo, wash her hair, grease it, and braid it. I would tell her how beautiful she looked, and she would smile.

I would say her name, what day it was, and who the President was, and then I would tease her, saying this is that daughter who comes here every Thursday. She would give me that smile, and I knew we would have a good day!

Sometimes, we would walk or sit on the porch for hours and watch the birds in the sky. We would talk, laugh, and have so much fun. Even when I didn’t understand what she was saying, I always treated her well and let her know that what she was saying was important to me. I loved to make her smile and laugh; she had such a hardy, joyful laugh that I loved to see and hear as often as possible. She had a smile that would carry the receiver for miles and a contagious laugh.

Whoopee was her favorite word. She would laugh and stop! And say, “Whoopee!” and we would both laugh like hyenas. She liked music and loved to dance. Mother always carried herself with dignity and grace; you could see it in how she walked and spoke. I loved being in her presence.

Mother was given an appreciation program one Sunday at church, which I wrote and recited this poem:

Mother

If I had a wand, I would touch your heart

so that you would feel nothing but love and joy.

If I had the sun, I would warm you and put a smile on your face as bright as the sunshine.

If I had the moon, I would shower you with radiant light,

making your days Oh! So bright.

If I had a star, just one little star, I would put a twinkle in your eyes that would never go away,

and you would forever be happy at the end of each day. This is what I pray!

Mother would sit in her favorite chair, and I would sit next to her. I would nourish her by rubbing her back and holding her hand. One day, while we sat and watched television, she reached over and rubbed my back. This was so touching and fulfilling to me. It stirred my soul. Those were special moments we shared, and we knew we loved each other.

One year, Mother gave me a plaque with a vase of pink roses painted on it for Christmas that said: “You are one of the nicest gifts life has given me.” It hung on my wall for years. Those words moved me in so many ways. Throughout the years, I have read it over and over. I kept it until it began to age and peel. Years later, I typed the words in bold print, framed them, and gave them to her because I felt the same way about her.

After the Funeral, my mother had never visited at home, where I had recently moved. I dreamed my mother was in my kitchen washing dishes. I stood next to her and dried the dishes. I was talking to her, but she didn’t say anything; she just listened. When I woke up, I was so excited that she had found where I lived. I would have done anything to hear her talk again, even in a dream.

Mother liked a clean home, so I continued to help tidy the house. One day, I heard my mother’s voice thanking me for caring for my dad. I felt the love that she felt for my dad. It felt like the constant flow of a river traveling down a waterfall and leveling out again into a peaceful flow of eternal bliss… that would last forever.

After Mother’s passing, I felt like I was always walking on clouds, floating in space. She taught me many things: love, dignity, grace, and integrity. Her hugs were always sincere and loving. Her smile is the light of my life, her dignity is my strength, and her grace is my spirit. I thank Spirit for her beauty and the time I spend with her on this earth plane. I will treasure her for an eternity. I am forever transformed! Oh! My divine Mother, My divine Mother…Whoopee!

Alethea Monk Howard, a writer and poet, completed the NRI Schools Non-fiction Writing Course. Author of poems, Can You See Me, Beyond the Past, Oh Spirit, published in the Vitality Paper. Her seemingly innate ability to articulate feelings and insights with such simplicity leaves the reader with a greater appreciation for life itself. (313)-656-4034

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