The Grass Is Slowly Growing, My Mother Is Slowly…

If you want me again, look for me under your boot-soles.

My mother died Tuesday morning.  My brother and I had traveled to see her and she knew us, beamed when she saw us and throughout the afternoon was able to communicate her needs to us.

Her dementia was far advanced, but my mother was able to say in halting sentences that she had to go and was afraid.  Of course we assured her that we would stay by her side.  Within 12 hours, Sunday morning, she had started her journey with rapid breathing, finally entering into a semi-conscious state.

Hospice came and started oxygen and wrote up orders for morphine which depresses breathing and of course deals with pain.  My brother and I stayed with our mother every moment for the next two days, sleeping in her room and sitting by her side.  Often we talked to her to assure her that we were there.  Mouth care is important for someone in this condition and we helped with that.  The nurses at the senior home came in frequently to check on our mother.  Our dear caregiver was also there at her side.

The process was difficult, but eased by the numbers of aids and nurses from her home who knocked gently on the door and came in to say goodbye.

Spring is slowly coming to the midwest.  My mother loved flowers and trees and in her last months was cheered by the sight of one bright yellow blossom or a single white rose.  New life will come into the world that she loved and we know that her life, so fully lived, will bless us and guide us all the days of our lives.

Writer Christopher Buckley, son of William F. Buckley Jr. and Patricia Buckley wrote The Last Goodbyes, a book about losing his parents.  When asked whether that bond ends with death, he said: It never goes away, and they never go away. Your parents are your ultimate protectors, and no matter what difficulties you’re having with them when they’re alive, you can always pick up the phone and hear their voices. They provide a certain level of comfort—just knowing they’re there. They’re like fire extinguishers mounted on the wall behind glass. You know if it really comes to it, you can break the glass.  And now they’re gone. 

My father-in-law died one spring.  I remember thinking, as I was planting my flower garden, that he would be gone even as the tiny plants I was plunging into the earth grew large, produced flowers—still lived.  I know now that often when I plant a garden my mother will be there, in my mind, feeling the warm sun as I do and loving the idea of growth and expansion.  She was the flower in my life and what she taught me and the power of her love will keep me growing until it’s my time.

The grass is slowly growing while other life ebbs away.

Thanks to jainaj     and     Madame Kno  photostreams

23 thoughts on “The Grass Is Slowly Growing, My Mother Is Slowly…

  1. Beautiful. Mom would love these thoughts, a woman who always relishes the trees and God’s creation. We can take some comfort in these words, but will always find the most comfort in each other.

  2. I was going to mention being a Druid and forgot. Thanks for your words. I take comfort in you every day. Her memory will always be a source of comfort and will be steady and true until we are no longer here. Beth

    • Thanks so much, Bob. I gather that you are truly very close to your
      mom too from your post about driving. We are blessed with good women. At her funeral I am going to use the words from a very popular song:
      GOD ONLY KNOWS WHERE I’D BE WITHOUT YOU! I know I wouldn’t be the fortunate woman I am. Beth

  3. Beth, I am so sorry to hear about your Mother being in Hospice, but I know she will be given comfort and compassion. You eloquently described the cycles of life. As you said so well, there are many unexpected curves in life’s pathway, sharp dark corners and times when the familiar, the recognizable eludes us or leaves us. But then we experience peace and comfort from those we feel close to and we can savor the beauty of new life appearing in our early spring. God bless all your family.
    Joan Walsh

    • Joan, thank you for your tender words. You have helped me along this journey. It’s not over yet, but there are many signs that life is ebbing away. I will always rejoice in the gifts given to me by a most amazing woman, dearest Jinni.


  4. Beth,
    You (and your mother) popped into my thoughts quite frequently, yesterday. Now I know why.

    I sense that in writing this beautiful post, you have been able to rearrange some of the pain making it easier for you to carry, much like someone would re-position a heavy backpack.

    My heart goes out to you, and your family, as you go through this next phase of life.

    • Marianna,
      You are an intuitive being and I am proud to claim you as a friend. Thank you for your very kind words. I did feel a sense of peace after arranging Hospice and then her home called tonight and she had fallen–again. But didn’t break anything. How much longer can she suffer this? I guess I’ll have to reposition the backpack again. But I will. Strength comes to me from persons like you. Again, thank you, Beth

  5. Beth, I began writing and blogging in earnest at just such a time in my life. I remember very clearly feeling similar feelings to the ones you describe here. It was the same time of year when my mother began her decline. It’s been several years but at times it feels like yesterday. As adult children we learn to live with the loss of our parents and in the process learn so much about ourselves. When we allow it, their dying will inform our living. They still are teaching us how to live even as they teach us how to die.

    We shed our tears. Many. Some say it is necessary to say good-bye. I chose not to because she lives in me even now. Goodbye seems so permanent, so unnecessary. But our lives are altered as they prepare for and take their final journey and life goes on. My thoughts are with you and your family. Keep writing. It not only will provide a source of strength for you but others who will follow in your footsteps. (I would like to share this post in my caregivers support group if you don’t mind.) Thanks for opening your heart.

    • Dorothy, this is such a gift. I put this out into the world and I am showered with help and concern. And two major take-aways from your comment: I will never say goodbye because my mother WILL live on in me. She has given me so very much. And her dying will inform my living and that of my brothers. Yes, she is teaching us how truly strong she has always been and will be until her last breath.

      Please feel free to share the post with your caregiver group. I am honored, Beth

  6. I’m so sorry, Beth. I lost my Mom in 2006. When I lost her I lost my biggest fan. She applauded everything I did because I was her child. Not for any other reason. Yes, I miss her every day.

    “When death takes your mother, it steals the word forever.” At first, I had to immerse myself in that thought. I bathed in it… soaked in it. I looked around the world and just felt heartache.

    Then, the stories started getting lighter and more of them ended in laughter than in tears. My family and I worked our way through knowing our “fire extinguisher” was no longer in the box.

    Please know you are in my heart during this time as you say good-bye. Share your stories, wallow in your tears, and laugh so hard it hurts.

    Peace to you and your family.

    • I’m sorry, Beth. I commented before I read through and see your conversation with Dorothy now. You aren’t saying good-bye. That makes so much sense now. Maybe THAT’S a better way to live through this loss.

      I never got to say ‘good-bye’ to my Mom because she died before I got there. But now I’m thinking that may have been her plan. Perhaps it was Mom’s way of saying; “Don’t you get it? I’m never leaving you.”

      So I will keep you in my heart as you navigate this journey. Peace to you and yours.

    • Patti, thank you. Yes, when your MOTHER is gone, the word changes in meaning and context. The fire extinguisher is no longer there to grab and there is now just that long stretch between your little life and death–no one in between to shield you. THANK YOU so much for your
      amazing thoughts. My brothers are already sharing stories about Mom. This is good–the laughter and the tears. Beth

  7. Patti-

    No worries. I am slowly losing her. But yes, I will remember your story because Mom will probably go when I am not at the bedside. And I will remember: “Don’t you get it? I’m never leaving you.” From my heart, a friend you are, Beth

  8. Pingback: The Grass Is Slowly Growing, My Mother Is Slowly… | Living better at 50+| Online Womens Magazine

    • Sheila, Thanks so much for your support, prayers and kind thoughts. It’s helping me so much to have my twitter friends. Thanks again for all that you do, BETH

  9. Beth,
    My heart goes out to you and your brothers as you spend these last precious moments with your Mother.
    “The death of a parent at any age is the ultimate break in the familiar and the routine,” is so true. And after they have passed…life is never the same. We go on, we live and love…because they lived and loved. But the longing to have they here with us, never leaves.
    We had a friend sing, “I Can Only Imagine” at my Mom’s celebration of life! And now, I just vision the two of us dancing at Jesus’ feet together, when the time is right! I know there will come a day, it just won’t be here! 🙂
    My prayers are with you and your family in the days and weeks to come.

    • Bridgit, I am continually joyous when receiving comments like yours. Thank you for taking the time to reach out and provide me with such solace and truly needed advice. I send you blessings too and know that I will always be a better person because I had Jinni for a mom.

      take care, Beth

  10. Pingback: Fire Extinguishers Mounted on the Wall « Bridgit Smith

  11. Oh what a beautiful, thoughtful, and true essay. My mother has Alzheimer’s and is in the Health Facility at Wesley Acres. I lose her little by little, every day, but I cherish every moment I have with her. We still laugh. She still wants to feed me from her plate. “Here–you eat this!,” she’ll say (again and again).

    Two years ago as we cleaned out her house after her move, I was so struck by how loving my parents truly were (my father died in 1988). At one point, my sister and I were going through what was left behind of 45 years of our family life in that home, and the realization hit me: Everything they did, they did for us.

    • Dear Wini,
      My experience is similar–a loss that occurs day to day. Now my mother has trouble even forming words. Sometimes she seems to growl on the phone as if she were speaking. But what a woman! She gave her life for us and it is so painful to see her go through this passage. Thank you for your comment. I am eager to see you at the luncheon with Robyn.
      And I will miss your columns–you can fill me in on the changes when I see you. Beth

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