The love of mom

September 29, 2008

by Jenni Sebora

My mom would say, “I was delivered, but I was never born.” She was delivered by ol’ Doc Clement a little over 87 years ago, and he forgot to file a birth certificate on her.

I share this little story at my mother’s funeral a few weeks ago. My mother, who I have shared stories about through this column, passed away at home – our home, which was her home.

On June 13 – my mother’s birthday – my mom was hospitalized, and from that point, hospice services were recommended, which was such a blessing to our family and my mom. They became almost an extended family.

Mom had heart failure for years and as the doctors put it, “a very large floppy heart” that was only pumping at a 15 percent rate. Because her heart was so large, it was pushing up on her esophagus which was causing her to have difficulty swallowing food. Thus, she was on basically a liquid-thickened diet. Although, she still enjoyed her coffee, even asking for coffee the day before she died.

From the wonderful nursing staff, to the home health aides, to the chaplain, massage therapist and music therapist, the care from each of these hospice staff was carried out with such respect and love. They allowed my mother to live her life up until her death with respect and comfort.

Even though my mother did not have an official birth certificate, I knew and my family knew that she lived, and she lived for all the right reasons. This, too, I shared in her eulogy. I would like to share the rest of my eulogy in this article.

Things, materialistic things, were not important to mom. People were most important to her. Anyone she came in contact with became her friend. She had always lived her life this way.

Even in the last couple of months when she could no longer get out of her bed, the connections with people were all she needed.

In that time, I would often ask myself, “What keeps mom going day after day, not able to get out of bed, not able to eat what she enjoys?”

But she would never complain because it all came down to people, her love of people, and the relationships she formed.

She formed connections with all of the hospice staff that provided care for her, all of the wonderful home health aides, Christian “the music man,” as Mom called him; Chaplain Bob, massage therapist and long-time family friend Michelle, and the wonderful nurses Melissa and Sue.

Mom would remember all the various things that each of these special people shared with her. They also shared a relationship with her, always commenting “what a sweet and wonderful lady Iris is.”

And, of course, her family, her beloved children – grandchildren and great-grandchildren, she so loved her family, her large family. She loved the large family gatherings, children running around. She always loved having children around, and I believe, the presence of her grandchildren in her life is what kept her “young.”

It was all about relationships with my mother, her relationships with her monthly senior citizen worship friends, her pastor, neighbors, doctors, nurses, home health aides, friends, family, and her relationship with God.

Mom was always at peace with dying. She would say, “When it’s my time, I am ready.” But she was also at peace with living and would live each day until that time came, and she certainly did that – conversing with people until, really, the last day of her life on earth.

So we cry, our family cries, more for ourselves. We cry in celebration of Mom’s life, in the loss of a beloved woman, mother, grandmother, and friend. She was the rock of our family.

She was a best friend to me, always telling me not to scold my children. She would say to me, “Remember how you and Chris (my twin brother) used to fight, and look at you now, best friends.”

She would tell me not to scold my husband, Marc, “Oh, don’t be mad at him,” she would often say. Most of the time, she was right. My husband had a true friend and protector in my Mom. She loved him. He loved her.

My mother taught us all about what matters most.

One day not long ago, my husband brought home a large-print Bible for her that he bought on his own, and Mom told him that was the nicest gift she had ever received.

Mom would eagerly wait for his return home each evening from work so she could update him on what she had heard on the radio regarding Hutchinson matters. She loved visiting with him about the legal matters in Hutchinson.

So as it was all about people with my mother; may we as a family keep our own personal memories with her tucked close at heart. May we keep her history and story going. That’s what it is about.