Home » Moving Day (part two of two)

Moving Day (part two of two)

I don’t even remember how many times I have moved in my adult life. From north to south, further south and international, north again then south and west and deep south again. If there were a line following us on a map, you would think my two year old grandson Reid had drawn all over it with a crayon. Over 40 years, there have been a lot of boxes packed and unpacked. Kids relocated into new schools, new youth groups and new sports programs. When we moved from Atlanta to San Diego, the flight involved not just four kids but a Golden Retriever named Cassie and a lop-eared, house-broken rabbit named Duncan. New sets of friends and deeply missed, left behind friends were all part of our lives as a corporate family. Settled in once again, knowing it wasn’t permanent always added to the sense of adventure that fueled my ability to survive with a smile.

My mom lived in the same county all her life. She and dad lived in three different rental houses and then bought my grandparents farm in 1961 when I was almost six, just as my baby brother – number five – was born. She returned to the house she was born in and lived there until they moved into my great aunt’s house in 1980. The big farm house, also on the farm, provided a shelter from the world to all who entered there. Mom’s gift for hospitality and listening was shared with anyone who happened by. Good food, her infamous sweet tea and if your timing was really good – a pan of homemade from scratch, cinnamon rolls just coming out of the oven.

Built in the mid 1800's by our ancestors. the house has always been in our family.   Mom's dad grew up in this house.

Built in the mid 1800’s by our ancestors, the house has always been in our family. Mom’s dad grew up in this house.

Mom would willingly come and visit wherever we lived. She always told me she felt better after visiting because she knew where we were and that we were ok. But, she was always anxious to return home. She couldn’t be gone for more than a week without missing her grandkids and her life on the farm. She always admitted to her homesickness. I loved her for that.

Moving day, September 17, 2013, we brought mom home from the hospital. It was a traumatic day for all of us. The decision to bring her home was unilateral among we, the siblings. No doubt entered into any of our hearts that mom belonged at home, among all that was familiar to her. One of my sisters moved in with pots and pans, a bushel of peaches and proceeded to make peach jam. Garden fresh tomatoes were cooked down and red sauce made ready for dinner. The house was filled with smells just like when mom was still able to work her magic there. About twenty of us gathered for dinner and the sounds of kids running around and chatter and laughter mingled with the smells and it was good.

Friends came and went and mom was able to communicate with her smile, a squeeze of her hand or a word here and there. It was hard for her because of the pain and the meds she was on to manage that. When all was quiet, one of us was always sitting with her.

Two years ago we all gathered at my sister’s house in Destin, Florida with mom and all her great grandchildren – all 11 of them. I took a picture of them. Later, I had a canvas print of that picture made.

Christian, Emma, Jackson,  Carter, Zachary, Charlie, Laura, Elliot, Reid, Georgia and Sawyer

Christian, Emma, Jackson, Carter, Zachary, Charlie, Laura, Elliot, Reid, Georgia and Sawyer

The living room was converted with a hospital bed, oxygen tank and everything we needed to care for her. We faced the bed centered between the two front windows looking out across the front porch and hung the picture on the wall between the two windows. She would study it and smile, remembering that great week. I loved watching her smile. I have five grandchildren and know how they fill my heart. It is hard to imagine that multiplied in such a blessed way.

September 20, 2013 – early in the morning, I heard my name being called. My cousin had gone downstairs to check with the aide sitting with mom. Mom’s breathing had changed. I called my brother and my sisters. We gathered around mom’s bed, time passing in slow motion with each breath she struggled to take. I found myself wanting to breath for her, filling my lungs as deeply as possible as though by doing that, I could give her the life sustaining oxygen needed.

There is no place on earth I would have chosen to be but by her side that morning. This woman who had carried me inside her for nine months – her body providing everything I needed to become her daughter – soon to be born into this world and begin my own personal journey. This woman whose hand I had never held as much as in the past two weeks, whose face I washed with a wet rag over and over again hoping to provide relief from her pain. It was a small gesture, yet always made her smile. She is the most gracious, unconditionally loving woman I have ever known.

Her breathing slowed to 4-5 breaths a minute. It changed again and each time she exhaled, I realized I was now holding my breath waiting for her to inhale one more time – and then she didn’t – it was over – her final breath had passed through her lips. Those lips that had spoken words to me since I was born, spread a million smiles through her journey and kissed us each goodbye every time we parted.

My first thought was overwhelming joy for her – being released from her physical broken body – she now knew what it was like to see Jesus holding out His hand to her and walking her to her new home – her final moving day.

This moving day required no packing of boxes, certainly it required her to carry nothing heavy. Clarity in those moments allowed me to see how much what we do as we walk this earth matters. Leaving behind many physical belongings or memories of a life lived loving others in her very simple way in her very small world – she chose the latter and chose well. I love you Mom.

Hundreds of people visited our family at the funeral home to honor Mom. Their words proved over and over how much she was loved. There is no doubt she left her mark on the lives of any who knew her. Gratefully, she is my inspiration to do the same and through that allow the light that shines deep in me to reflect the Jesus I love and follow.

The scriptures below are some that keep my eyes focused upward. I don’t know how to make any sense of anything except by clinging to the words God gave us in His powerful message in the Bible. It is easy for us to dismiss the Bible as an old history book. I plead with you to find it, dust it off, open it and allow the living word to comfort you in your pain. To comfort you in your loss as His hope and His abundant love for each of us whom He knows by name – are drawn to Him – you have to open your heart to Him. He will fill you to overflowing. Believe in His words to us – seek Him – allow Him to break your heart wide open as He fills you full with a joy that has no measure as you discover how much He loves YOU!

Philippians 3:14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 40:28–31
28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

2 Responses to “Moving Day (part two of two)”

  1. June says:

    Oh Janet. What a moving tribute to your mom. We should all live our lives such that our children will be able to say of us that no matter where we lived or what our circumstances, we loved others. Our new minister spoke Sunday about loving God and loving others. So simple and yet so difficult sometimes. Your mom knew how to do this. I’m so sorry for your loss, my dear friend!

  2. sharon yurky says:

    you have done a fantastic job putting into words all the thoughts that were flowing through the house that day…each child dealing with her passing in their own way…. she meant so much to each person that met her… we all have different memories of her… but every one of us has GOOD memories of her…she was a christian woman role model to all of us… we will miss her.

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