Saying Goodbye

Sam and I always had an agreement, when it was time to come home he would tell me.  When I got the call on February 15th, I was in the car within the hour.

While I had seen mama and daddy, Sam, Donna, Chelsea and Zack all the day before, when Sam called to tell me it was time to come home, I knew it was time.

We had all gathered together in Edgewater, Florida for Valentine’s Day weekend.  Mama and Daddy had a winter place there and we came together to surprise mama.  Deep down we all knew it was probably the last Valentine’s Day and when mama saw us all show up she was so pleased.

That Sunday morning, mama told Sam to “take me home.”  Within hours, the Florida home was closed up, good-bye was said to close friends and my entire family was in their cars headed back to God’s Country.

In speaking with Sam the next morning, he relayed to me that mama was not doing well and the trip home had been hard on her.  I made few stops that day on the way home, Fernandina to pick up Aunt Beck, drive thru meals, gas and a quick bathroom break, that was it.

Mama’s condition improved during my drive home and Sam relayed the news to me continuously, I kept driving…. it was time to go home.

Aunt Beck and I got home late that night, when we went into mama and daddy’s room and mama looked up at me and said “hey baby, what are you doing here.”  She was alert and knew me right away, I just shrugged off the question and told her I decided to come home and see her.

The next morning, I heard mama and daddy up bright and early, talking, cooking breakfast and greeting the day.  When I came down, mama got down to business.  She let me know that she wanted Sam to come over that we had some business to discuss.

When Sam arrived a couple of hours later we all sat in the living room when she told me to bring her the yellow pad in the cabinet.  I got it and brought it down to her and mama began to dictate to all of us what she wanted for her funeral.

I was shocked, but didn’t say anything, mama and the Lord had it all planned out.  She told us who she wanted to speak, what she was to wear, flowers, music, the whole plan.

We didn’t question anything she said, mama was in control.

The only change to the plan was Sam and I both asked mama if it would be ok if we spoke at the service, she said yes.

Over the next couple of days, we all met with the Pastor, mama told him what Bible verses she wanted and what she wanted said.  As a family we spent every hour possible together.  Mama got up each day, we sat in the living room, we ate as a family, we laughed, we talked and we cried.

One morning our dear friends from Rochelle, GA visited, it was like old times having the extended family together.

On Wednesday, mama told me she wanted two things to eat, a baked potato with everything, no fake stuff, no diet stuff….everything.  She also wanted macaroni and cheese.

The baked potato would be no trouble but I had never cooked macaroni and cheese.  I looked up a Paula Deen recipe and off to Wal-Mart I went to collect the needed supplies for both dishes.

Friday afternoon the entire family gathered for lunch, we ate huge baked potatoes with all the fixins… nothing diet, just good food.  During lunch mama told us to get in touch with the Church and ask them to come over to the house and serve us all the Lord’s Supper.

After lunch mama went to bed, she didn’t get up again.

All evening Friday and day Saturday we turned our vigil to mama and daddy’s bed.  We would sit and talk to her and each other.  She would be in and out of alertness, but I know she heard it all.

Saturday afternoon a Deacon from the Church came and served us the sacraments.  As we were served, daddy wet a tiny piece of bread with the juice and placed it in mama’s mouth….. she bit down on his finger and wouldn’t let go.  We all roared with laughter!

From that time until the end, mama proceeded to make her way home to be with the Lord.  We would lay on the bed as a family talking, crying and doing everything we could to live in those final moments.

At one point during the evening, mama got a peaceful look on her face and a tiny smile appeared.  Aunt Beck asked “I wonder who she just saw?”  I realized at that point that mama had begun her final journey home.

During the night daddy encouraged us to leave the room so he and mama could get some sleep.  Around midnight Chelsea woke me up and asked me to come check on mama.  I rushed in and at first glance she didn’t appear to be breathing.

Sam and Aunt Beck came into the room and we woke daddy.  For the next several minutes he sat at her side and begged her to breathe, willed her to breathe and she did.  Six breaths a minute, four breaths, 9 breaths, it fluctuated and daddy kept encouraging her.

As mama began to stabilize we went back to the living room to let mama and daddy get some rest.  Aunt Beck woke me up shortly after 4, mama was gone.  Aunt Beck said she sat with her for 5 minutes to make sure and she was gone.  We woke Sam and we woke daddy and our family sat and grieved the loss of our rock, the cornerstone of our family.

After mama was pronounced dead, I lay down in the quiet of the room with her.  I lay and I cried, the most important person in my life was now gone.

The next several days are a blur, so many people were so kind to our family.  We stood in the funeral home for four hours straight with a constant line of people paying their respects.

At the funeral, Sam and I both spoke.  Sam went first and I was SO proud of him, he was eloquent, he was rock solid, he honored our mother with his simple love and compassion.  I have never been more proud of him than I was during those moments and I know mama was proud too.

After Sam it was my turn.  I wrote and rewrote my comments until late the night before.  The hardest words I have ever written and spoken are here.

Mama died two years ago today.  It isn’t any easier than it was the day it happened.  I want to talk to her every single day, I want to hug her, kiss her, hold her hand and just listen to her voice.  I can’t do that, what I can do is honor her, I will do that.

My mama was the most amazing woman I have ever known, I hope you say the same about your mother.  If you are reading this, and if you can still do it…. do me a favor, stop reading now, pick up the phone call your mama and just tell her you love her.  If not for yourself, do it for me.