A Tribute to Mom

More than a year ago, I went to visit my mom’s doctor. We knew she had dementia, along with a host of other health problems, but I wanted to speak with the doctor about our next steps and expectations. At the end of the visit, I asked him if he could give me a ballpark idea on how much time we had left with Mom.

When he said “Christmas” my heart fell down to my feet. He assured me it wouldn’t be the dementia that ended her life, but one of her other health issues.

Christmas came and went, but shortly after the holidays, Mom began having severe heart issues. Each day she survived, I looked at as a bonus day with her. We went to visit several times, then in early March, she ended up in the hospital. The doctor called a meeting with my dad, my brothers, and me to let us know Mom was on limited time and suggested hospice care for her.

My dad wanted to keep Mom at home and we all supported his decision, so just before all the social distancing began, we got Mom settled at home in a hospital bed with an incredible, amazing hospice team.

A few days before Easter, Mom was having some issues, so I spoke with one of the hospice nurses. She urged me not to wait to visit, but to come as soon as I could. So Captain Cavedweller and I made the three-hour trip to spend Easter with Mom and Dad. Mom had what the nurses called a “coronary event” just a few minutes after we arrived and I decided it was time to come stay with them to help Dad take care of her. I went home the next day, packed up what I’d need for an extended stay, and came back two days later. I spent the next ten days in a blur of helping care for my mother and helping my dad. Between cooking, washing what seemed like an unending pile of laundry, making funeral arrangements, and nursing (a skill at which I feel so inept), I watched my mom grow weaker by the day, sometimes by the hour.

But there, in the midst of it all, were some of the sweetest moments – moments I look at as such blessings and will always treasure. Two mornings I got up to check on Mom at 3 a.m. and stayed by her bedside. Surprisingly, her mind seemed crystal clear and we spoke of so many things during those precious hours before Dad awoke and her lucidity faltered.

When I thanked her for giving me a love of reading and books, she told me how proud she was of me, of my writing, and said, “I never dreamed you’d become an author and write such good stories.”

I asked her dozens of questions, too. Questions I am now pondering why I waited so long to ask. I found out when Mom was a little girl, she wanted to be a cowgirl and sing like Pasty Montana.  I had no idea. None at all.

We talked about my favorite meal she used to make which was homemade egg noodles with chicken. She told me she never liked noodles, but made them because she knew I did.

Her memories of my childhood faded away months and months ago, but as we spoke, she recalled a few things that had happened. We laughed. I cried. And I saw my mom, not just as my mother, but a woman who had lived such a rich, lovely life. A woman who had once been a little girl who wanted to sing about being a cowboy’s sweetheart and had such a big heart full of dreams. She had eighty-eight years of triumphs and challenges, a life of great love and many losses. And it took facing the loss of her before I fully realized just how spectacular she was.

When we knew her time was at an end, my husband left work early and made the trip to be with us. One of the last responses we had from Mom was when I told her CC was on his way. He’s always been such a fan of her homemade cinnamon rolls and she’s always been quite fond of CC. I asked her if she wanted to make some cinnamon rolls for him. She shook her head. When I asked if she thought I should make some, she nodded slightly and squeezed my hand.

Together, Dad and I held Mom’s hands through a night that seemed as though it would never end even as we were afraid it would while CC was there to help however he could. Mom entered into her eternal rest in the early morning hours April 24, surrounded by love, listening to her favorite hymns, knowing she would be missed dearly, but never forgotten.

Mother’s Day is proving to be a bit of a challenge for me this year. My heart still feels so raw and the edges jagged from having part of it ripped out at her passing. A lovely, dear friend wrote to me that when our mothers die, a part of our soul goes right along with them. I completely agree.

 

But if Mom was here with us this Mother’s Day, there are some things I’d definitely tell her.

Here’s what I would say:

Because of you, I’ve taken adventures all over the world, into the past and future through books. I’ll never forget you reading the Trixi Belden and the Little House books to me or sharing the piles of books I’d drag home from the library. Even during my awkward teenage years, books and the wonderful stories in Good Housekeeping magazine were one way we always connected.

Because of you, I learned to cook and bake, care for a home, host a party, and sew, although we both know I never enjoyed sewing all that much. If it wasn’t for your help and nudging, I’d still be trying to sew that stupid pillow for home ec class. I probably never thanked you properly, but I used to love all those special things you’d make for me, like the crocheted Easter basket and the keepsake box that played music when you opened the lid. I still have them, even after all these years.

Because of you, I’ve been ruined for maple bars. No one can make them as good as yours. CC would say the same thing about your cinnamon rolls.

Because of you, I grew up to be independent and strong, but also have a tender heart.  Thank you for raising me to be a good person.

Because of you, I grew up with a heart full of faith. No matter what life throws my way, faith has always given me a solid foundation to stand on. That is a priceless gift that I’ll cherish for all eternity. Thank you, Mom, for that, and for the hope that I’ll see you again one day in Heaven.

To those of you who have lost your mom, my heart goes out to you for I know your grief now on a personal level. May you find comfort in your memories and peace in the love lingering in your heart.

And to those of you who still have your mom with you, even if you can’t be with her to celebrate Mother’s Day, I hope you’ll tell her how much you love her, appreciate her, and maybe you’ll even ask her what she dreamed of being when she was a little girl.

Happy Mother’s Day with love.

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46 Responses

  1. Shanna,
    I am so sorry for your lost. I understand how you feel. I lost my mother 45 years ago this year, and because she and I were so much younger, I became extremely close to my father. Dad has now been gone 10 years, at the age of 93. He was such a great man. Everyone loved him. I miss him every single day, but I count my blessings that I was honored to have him for such a long time, and that was still too short.
    I am so blessed that your mother gave you such a love of reading that you became a writer. We are all very fortunate because you have shared with us some of the most beautiful, funny, poignant stories. Bless you and your family with wonderful memories this Mother’s Day!

    1. Oh, Linda,
      I’m so sorry for your losses – especially losing your mother so very young. I know what you mean about having a loved one for a long time – even if it seems far too short.
      And thank you for such kind words. I truly appreciate them and you so much.
      Blessings to you!

  2. Sitting here with tears flooding from my eyes. I wish I had my mom as long as you did, but she died at 63, just about 38 years ago. Her birthday was May 9th, so it often falls on Mother’s Day. Almost overwhelming even after all this time because she was such a special lady. But I too treasure memories of the same sort you recall. She represented her community as Queen for one day at the Century of Progress Exposition in 1934. The photo and loving cup are in my office where I see them every day. Mom and her sister sang and played guitar on radio stations near Chicago in the 30’s and early 40’s. She sang around the house while cleaning and baking the whole time I was growing up–“Red River Valley” and “You Are My Sunshine.” We read from McCall’s and the Saturday Evening Post. I watched her as she cooked, and when I was 11, she was in the hospital on Thanksgiving. I managed to create a whole dinner just like hers except for the pies. And don’t even get me started on how many times I removed and replaced a zipper on the first skirt I made because she wasn’t satisfied it was done well enough! She was so proud that I was the first in her family to graduate from college and become a high school teacher of English. Would that she had lived after I married and taught in college for 20 years. She would have been busting her buttons. Please know that I fully understand and share the loss you are experiencing. It is not and never will be easy, though the joyful memories eventually overwhelm the immediate sorrow here on Earth. I pray heart’s ease for you. And yes, I know Mom is in Heaven too because there is nowhere else a woman of her faith and perseverance could be. Coincidentally the man who would become my husband had lost both of his parents within a year. I am fully sure that when Mom arrived, she and his mother met and started a conversation that went something like this: “You have a son? I have a daughter…”

    1. I’m so sorry you lost your Mom at such a young age, Sarah. And how challenging it must be to have her birthday and Mother’s Day so close. My heart goes out to you. Your Mom sounds amazing and I’m so glad you had her for the years you did. My mom was in a beauty pageant, too. How fun! I’m also sorry for your husband’s losses. And you made me smile, thinking about the two mother’s plotting to bring you together from their place in Heaven. Take good care and thank you so much for your kind thoughts and words.

      1. Thank you so much. I was struck by the parallels in the lives of our mothers and thus in our own. It is so reassuring to know that love lives on and we have them watching us from that “great cloud of witnesses.” Peace to your heart.

  3. What a beautiful tribute! I do still have my mom, but we are 4 hours apart. When I do get to see her and the danger of the virus is gone, I will hug my Mom and Dad multiple times.

    Trudy Dapprich

  4. You were so very blessed to have been there for your Mom. To have had those last conversations with her is truly a gift you will always treasure. You also gave her a gift: she left his world surrounded by the people she loved the most, knowing how much they loved her back. Much love to you and your family.

    1. Thank you, Carol. Those last conversations are such a precious gift. There were so, so many moments I felt very blessed to be with her. And I’m just so grateful if she had to leave us, it was surrounded with love.
      Take good care and thank you, again. <3

  5. My heart hurts for your loss but I rejoice that she is in heaven and pain free and that you will see her again one day. I look forward to the same reunion with my mom (and dad) one day. Your written piece about your mom is a very loving tribute and I thank you for sharing your journey with us. Prayers continue for you and your family.

    1. Thank you for your kind words and prayers, Barbara. So sorry you’ve lost both of your parents. The promise of Heaven is such a comfort, though, isn’t it. Take care and thanks again!

  6. Hi Shanna, what a beautiful Tribute your wrote for your mama. <3 I am so very sorry for your loss. I lost my mom a year ago in March,and I too was with her when she passed away, she was suffering a lot , so when she passed away there are such mixed feelings, the feeling of being so sad and hurting for her, and at the same time Happy that she is not suffering anymore and is now with God. It is hard when her birthday came, Mothers Day and all the holidays are hard, only thing that consoles me is that she is not hurting anymore and she is in Good Hands and with a lot of people that she loves. My dad passed away 15 yrs. ago , and I was also fortunate to be at his side when he passed. Only ones left now are there 6 children that they both raised very well, and I Thank God for giving me such Caring and Wonderful parents who loved me very much. Have a Blessed Mothers Day my Beautiful friend. Take Care and Be safe.

    1. Oh, Alicia!
      I’m so sorry for your loss – of both your parents. So special you were with them both when they passed. It’s wonderful you have your siblings for support and parents who sound so amazing and loving.
      Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. I hope you have a beautiful Mother’s Day. Blessings, my friend.

  7. Shanna, what a beautiful tribute to you mom. What a blessing to be able to speak again with her before she passed. That happed with my grandmother before her death. It helped to ease her passing. Praying for you and your family during this time.

    1. Thank you, Kathy. Being able to talk with her was such a gift – one I’ll always treasure. Take good care and thanks again.

  8. Such a precious piece!

    Those of us who are already walking this path are now here to walk it with you too. You are not alone. Most importantly, God is here with you.

    Mother’s Day is just hard…and different. Just get through the first one. Do something unique. My BFF and I took a day-long road trip. It was good for me.

    Plant a rose bush or a tree in your yard in memory of your mom and watch it grow. Add a new one each year.

    Bless a mom who was special to you growing up.

    Give yourself time to grieve. There is no “right” way to do it or a certain timeline. Know that it is a circuitous journey. It does become more precious instead of so painful but it is forever different. Embrace that.

    Thank God continually for the promise of the great reunion!!! Your mom is more alive now that ever! Know that many prayers are being lifted for you. God will give you an extra measure of grace this weekend….I promise. He’s fine that for me since 1994.

    Cindy

    1. Thank you, Cindy.
      God’s promises are such a comfort, and I’m so grateful Mom walked a faithful life.
      I’m so sorry about your loss and hope you continue to find comfort, too.
      I actually have a rosebush my cousin sent I’m planting in memory of Mom this weekend. It will be such a lovely reminder.
      Thank you, again, and wishing you a beautiful Mother’s Day.
      Blessings!

  9. So much of what you shared I relate to in my own memories of my mom…I also give my mom credit for instilling in me great faith! Thank you, your thoughts brought a sweetness to my heart.
    Readers? yep! A love that my mom and I shared. I too was a Trixi Belden kid, when I grew up,I looked forward to each new Good Housekeeping magazine, and my love for reading still serves me well into life, now over 60 years.

    1. How sweet you and your Mom shared a love of reading, Abbie. And so fun we read some of the same things. Thank you for your thoughts. Have a beautiful Mother’s Day. Blessings to you!

  10. What a beautiful tribute, Shanna. I’m so thankful you were able to spend those last days with your mom and dad. And I’m so thankful that you have so many wonderful memories to cherish. Thinking about you and keeping you in my thoughts and prayers this weekend. (((hugs)))

    1. Thank you so, so much, sweet friend. Hugs and prayers to you, too. Hope you have a beautiful, blessed Mother’s Day!

  11. Shanna, I’m so very sorry for your loss! I remember the first Mother’s Day after losing my Mom 29 years ago. My Dad was gone only 5 years later. It’s an empty feeling, but those hollow spots slowly filled with memories of them. Only this week I was talking with my son about his memories of my Dad on what would have been his 98th birthday.

    I’m so pleased for you to have had those final moments together. What a treasure! I’ll keep you in my prayers as you go through the coming days, weeks and months. May God comfort and bless you!

    1. Thank you so much, Bonnie.
      I’m sorry you’ve lost both of your parents, but so glad you have sweet memories of them. Hugs and much love, my friend.

  12. This is absolutely beautiful, Shanna. I’m sure she’s smiling down from Heaven, wearing that gold crown. She’ll have added stars in it for being such a loving mother, wife, and woman. I love you dearly.

  13. Shanna- such a beautiful tribute for your mom. My heart breaks for you and others who have lost your mom’s. Remember all the precious memories you and her have made together. She’s smiling down on you and she’s so very proud of the beautiful Lady you have become. I love you so much and you’re in my constant thoughts and prayers. Love you dearly my sweet sweet friend. ❤️

    1. Oh, thank you so, so much, Tonya. You are so sweet and your kind words mean so much. Hugs and love to you, my friend. Thanks again! <3

  14. This is a beautifully written tribute! We lost my mother in law close to Mother’s Day too back in 2010 a couple of months before middle child was born. It was hard but we got through it and you will too. Prayers and hugs.

  15. Aw Shanna that is simply beautiful ❤ It brought a tear to my eye, she sounds so special ❤ x x x

  16. What a beautiful tribute to your mother! I am fixing to celebrate my first Mother’s Day without my mother too. She died on January 26.

    1. Oh, Stephanie. My heart goes out to you. Hope you have a good day, surrounded by those who love you and the knowledge that your Mom is still there, in your heart, brings you happiness and peace. Hugs to you! <3

  17. Shanna, this is such a beautiful tribute. And it’s why I love your books so much. You put so much heart into everything you write. I’m struggling so much right now. I lost mom the week before her birthday…and now Mother’s Day. I’ve had you in my thoughts all week. I’m trying to be more like you. You are such a beautiful, kind, positive lady. You are a shining example to the world. Much love to you!

    1. Lynette,
      I’m so, so sorry you are feeling the same pain and so sorry you lost your mom, too. Big hugs to you. And thank you for your sweet, kind words. I’m just wishing comfort and peace to you and hope each day eases the loss with sweet memories.
      Thinking of you and sending much love. <3

  18. What a beautiful tribute to your beautiful mom. Shanna, from the stories in Farm Girl and others we have heard, your are a wonderful daughter and friend to your family and no doubt to your mom and dad the most. She was a beautiful woman and you were a lucky little girl and woman to have her as your mom.
    I wished I asked my mom more questions too but my mom, did have a horse and loved to ride when she could. I always found that strange yet fascinating since she lived in Detroit. It wasn’t all city like then but she has some farm like stuff in her life just like I read all the time in yours and others stories.
    They had chickens, she had to collect the eggs and fetch one for dinner occasionally. I remember her telling me her dad would chop off the head and it would still run around the yard and when she caught it she had to take in to her mom. I have pictures on her horse and she was in a riding outfit.
    She played piano. I now have the baby grand in my small living room but I can’t play well. My nephew played when he was with us four and a half years while he was at the Air Force Academy. His sister could really play and would when the family came out on parents weekend.
    My last memory of her as she slipped into a coma was she called me a name I didn’t know, and when I asked her that was, she said her favorite dolly. That was a very hard time for me. Thank you for you story and tribute to your beautiful mom.

  19. Thank You. I’m sitting here crying over your words. I lost my Mom a year in Jan. I miss her all the time. It was rough her last month’s, but we got through it and she passed at home where she wanted to be. She will always be in my Heart and I am sure your Mom is in yours. God Bless

    1. I’m so sorry for your loss, Pat, but so glad you had that precious time with her in her last days. Hoping you find comfort and peace in the coming days and hold those dear memories close to your heart. Blessings to you. <3

  20. We were so blessed to get to “know” your Mom through your beautiful tribute. Isn’t it amazing that no matter how old we become , our Mothers still are our measuring stick. I wish I could bake pies like my Mom did but she did instill in me a love of sharing baked goods with family and friends. Like you, my Mom and I shared the live of reading and, Oddly enough one of the first books she bought for me was Trixie Belden. Shanna, you and I were so blessed to be loved and nurtured by these incredible ladies we both call Mom. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  21. My eyes are filled with tears as I read your tribute to your mother. I could do identify! So many of the things you mentioned and those writing to you, I could identify with.
    You see I am 86 years old and many-a-day when I am doing something or just sitting and looking over the valley before me I think how much Mom would have loved to sit there with me. She died in 1982. We had a family picture taken of she (my father had died 10 years before), my husband, our son and married daughter, her husband and baby girl and even the family dog—just 2 weeks before she died suddenly of a heRt attack when she, my husband and I were camping in VA.i know I cried all the way home and for days afterward. You see I was an only child and my first thoughts was that I was an orphan. I knew my husband and family loved me but nobody loves you like a mother.
    I feel your lost, Shanna, even after all these years.

  22. That was a beautiful tribute to your mom. I’m sure she is smiling down from heaven and enjoyed everything you said about her. Hold on to those memories and treasure the time you had together. Praying for you and your family during this difficult time.

  23. What a Wonderful tribute and because of you I am really trying to find a happy medium with my mom. Prayers continue for you today and everyday. Big Love and Hugs!!!

  24. Shanna,
    Very late Sunday evening three nights ago, you came very clearly to my mind. I didn’t know if you were having a difficult time at that moment or if God were asking me to just give you a “hug with words,” but I stopped and prayed for you right then. I asked Him to comfort your heart on this most tender Mother’s Day and fill you with His love in a special, very personal way.
    Be at peace God is here and He is not silent.

    Cindy

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