I'm remembering my mother today.
I miss her.
As of today she has been gone 14 years. It seems she died only yesterday, but it has been an eternity of yesterdays.
We first noticed something was wrong around Thanksgiving, when she said that she couldn't remember how to make gravy. She had spent the day preparing our feast and at the very last she was suddenly confused.
I remember the day we got the diagnosis. A brain tumor, the size of mans fist with tentacles that had spread themselves into the surrounding tissue. I remember seeing the images on the MRI. I remember them telling us there was little if anything they could do. Perhaps surgery, but the survival rate was slim and there were no guarantees that they could remove the tumor in whole or in part. I remember the fear and uncertainty in her eyes at first but I also remember how, with dignity and grace she accepted her fate and lived without complaint.
I remember the last five weeks spent helping my father care for her.
I remember how she started to lose control of the left side of her body. I remember following her down the hallway and watching her list to one side, it struck her as funny and how we laughed in the moment.
I remember the visits from family. They came to say good-bye.
I remember that last Christmas and having to return most of the gifts, having to explain to the sales clerk that the recipient wouldn't be needing these things in heaven.
I remember washing her hair and putting it up in rollers when she no longer could do it herself.
As children we would vie for a seat next to her. I remember sitting in church and holding her hand, playing with her skin, tracing veins with my fingers and remembering how smooth her hands were. I have been told that my hands are like hers.
Remembering the warmth of her skin against mine as she touched my cheek and how she used to tuck my hair behind my ears as she smiled and told me I was "such a pretty girl".
I remember her sitting at the kitchen table doing the mornings crossword puzzle and sipping a hot cup of tea.
I remember what it felt like to be hugged, really hugged by my mother, the warmth of her embrace, her hair brushing against my cheek.
I remember her quiet pride at her children's accomplishments.
I remember her tucking me in at night under one of the quilts she had made. I remember going with her and my grandmother to their monthly quilting bee and watching them work and listening to them chatter about life, love and relationships.
I remember her love for my Dad and how she died at home in his arms.
I remember burying my mother in a peaceful, quiet place. A place where the sun shines warm on bare earth and yet where you can see every star in the heavens on a clear moonless night.
I remember her love for the Lord and her devotion to serving Him by serving others. It seems like we were always making room for one more at the supper table. A relative, a neighbor, a friend and the occasional stranger. She accepted without condemnation those who came into her life.
She used to tell all us kids that "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all". A lesson I am still learning.
It is the memories of life's little events that I will cherish. The gift of the ordinary day.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her.