Saying "Goodbye," to my mother was very difficult for me. Although I knew she had lived a full life I felt her passing would leave a void in my world. I learned so much from her that I still recall today. These are lessons that I still use in my life: how to cook my own meals and eat out less to save money, to carefully balance a budget, to take care of myself and my children and husband, but most of all she showed me how to have compassion for others.
Many times I would visit widows with her. She would go to their houses and cheer them up. Yes, she had much to do at home, but she always had time for these elderly women, especially the ones who most recently lost their husbands.
She showed me the value of classic things in her interest for jewelry and antiques. She had her own business and sold collectables every weekend. Many times I was bored as she dragged me, her youngest child, along to garage sales but I eventually learned that better made items hold their value and mass produced objects are of lesser worth. She showed me that well cared for pieces are held in high esteem. It is the same for relationships and life. Take care of yourself, maintain your body and soul, never cheapen your character.
My mother's life wound down faster than the doctors expected. Once the diagnosis of cancer was announced, the physicians gave her six months. She only lasted six weeks. Every several days she lost another skill, first her balance, then her walking, but she had a sharp mind and a fragile wit until just before she lapsed into a coma.
I knew I had to let her go. She had a full life, one with adventures and compassion. She had suffered enough but how could I say, "Goodbye," now that she was at the end of her mortality?
I said, "Mom, when you're up in Heaven and you're thinking of me, send a dove." My sister joined us and sat on Mother's bed. She began to gently brush the hair of a dying woman.
Suddenly, our mother just let go. Our cousin, who was also the attending nurse, said, "She's gone."
It's been more than six years. I am watching my daughters grow, graduate from school and get married. I hope I can teach them all that my mother taught me.
Sometimes I hear a dove cooing or see one resting on our barn roof. I look up into the Heavens and say, "Hello, Mom," because I know, goodbyes aren't forever.
(Originally Written 2010)