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The ultimate job of a parent

September 6, 2008

by Jenni Sebora

I write this column in hopes that the content of the articles connects with people in some way – their lives, their stories, their family dynamics, or even just certain events. I write in simple language to hopefully get simple, yet meaningful, messages across.

The stories that I share, I do not share really to tell about myself, but rather for others to connect to the stories in their own life.

This summer, this column contained stories about my mother and my relationship with her and what she meant to my family.

Many people have either called me or commented to me in the store, on the streets, in church, etc. how they have connected with the stories about her as a mother, about their own relationships with their own mothers and parents, whether living or not.

I have been greatly influenced by my parents. Both of my parents are both passed away and now, me as their child, and my siblings and their children and my children now carry on my parents’ legacy. We must now continue to live their stories.

My sister so eloquently told my mother some days before she passed away that it was ok to go, to let go of this life. She had done her job, and had done it well. She had raised us and taught us how to live our lives. She had done it well, and now it was our turn to take over. We could do it because of how she and dad had taught us.

Those words were so powerful to me. I had a harder time telling my mom that she could go. Mostly because I wanted to let her know she could live if she wanted, but if she wanted to rest and let this life go, that was her decision to make.

As my sister told these gracious words to my mother, my heart was lightened. It is the ultimate job of a parent to raise their children to be happy and competent individuals who can stand on their own, live their lives and make their own decisions.

My parents had done that. Life had come full circle for my mother, as it did for my father also. We, as their children, would carry on their job, their story, their history because of what and how they had taught us, by their example and their love.

I believe my mother waited for all us, her family, to leave until she finally took her last breath on earth and entered eternal peace. I believe she did this for us and for herself.

I and many of my other family members had been with her throughout the entire week of her decline of life. On the morning of the day of her passing, I had gone for a while. My husband took our children to school and had gone to work with the knowledge that hospice staff was with mom.

A few hours later, I called home to see how she was, and I received the words from Christian, the music therapist, that she had just taken her last breath. Those were difficult words for me. I did want to be with her in those last moments as I had with my grandmother and my father.

But I know that is how my mother wanted it. I was happy that Christian, who had provided such comfort and happiness and therapy to all of us in the form of music, was with my mom when she died. I will always be thankful to him for his presence in her life in those last moments.

Among the songs he would sing to her each time he came were her favorites, “Amazing Grace,” “In the Garden,” and the song that always stuck with me was “Good night, Irene,” in which he would replace with her name, Iris. So it was so fitting that he was able to sing “Good night, Iris,” to her that last time.

A friend of the family had written to me after mom’s death, “Your mom has done her job, and done it well. It was now time for her to rest.”

My mom and dad had done their job. They taught us about values; about how to treat people; about hard work and the importance of family, of sticking together through the ups and the downs; of honesty and integrity.

We are all a son or a daughter who is influenced by our parents and the values they instill in us. Some of us are parents ourselves who are the one that are now teaching and role modeling for our own children.

I will forever be grateful to my mother and my father for their presence and their teachings, for their dedication and their love. Their love has taught me how to teach my children. So it is the ultimate job of a parent to teach their children so they will grow and go in the love and values we have bestowed upon them through our words, actions and, most of all, modeling. That is what my parents did for me.