I remember taking trips with my mom to visit my grandmother in the nursing home in a nearby town. I hardly ever went inside, but one day I walked in and heard my mom talking. My grandmother had severe Alzheimer’s disease that took away her ability to walk and talk.
On the way back from the nursing home, I asked my mom, “Why do you do that?”
She knew exactly what I meant, but she replied, “Do what?”
“How can you sit there for hours and talk to her. She doesn’t say anything or do anything. She just makes noises and stares at you.” I know it sounds rude, but my mom and I had a unique relationship. I could ask all kinds of questions, and she would answer me with the truth.
“She’s my mom; the same way that I am your mom. The way you feel about me is the way I feel about her.”
“But why do you talk to her? Do you think she hears you or even knows that you are there?”
“She knows I’m there. She hears me. She talks back to me with her eyes and her heart.”
“What about the noises?” I always had a question; she always had an answer.
“I want you to remember this. When people are sick like your grandma, you have to have faith that God is doing something with them. When she makes noises, my faith tells me that she is singing with angels. And it is a beautiful sound. You will understand one day.”
“When I get put in a certain situation, I can hear you telling me not to do something in my head. Does that count?”
“No, because you do it anyway.” She laughed. “You will hear my heart not my voice; just like I can hear your heart.”
About four years ago, I found myself in the situation that my mother and I talked about when I was a teenager. Only the table had turned. I was visiting her at Baylor Hospital in Dallas. I tried and tried but I couldn’t ever recall her being sick. Not ever, until now. The doctor told us that things didn’t look good. This was one of the best hospitals in the country. So when he said that, I think it shocked everyone. As days turned to weeks, weeks to months, my mom grew weaker and weaker. My brothers and I would go see her every weekend. I was working when I got the call for us to come back. It was time. With tears in our eyes and overcome by silence, we finally made it to Dallas. My mother was weak but still able to show her affection towards us. She looked extremely happy to see all of us together. I remember her eyes lighting up every time she would see us even as kids. After a couple of days, the doctor told us that she was stable, and he would call us again if things changed. My brothers left, but I felt I had to stay. The next day, I went to visit my mom alone. I found myself doing a lot of talking until she put her finger over her mouth. I knew it was time to put our hearts to the test. This was our heart to heart.
“Do you remember when you asked me how can I do it?”
“I do. I am sorry that I didn’t understand. Mom, I’m scared. You’re only 51; it’s not fair.”
“I’m afraid, too.”
“Are you scared to die?”
“No. I'm afraid for my babies.”
“Mom, we’re not babies anymore. We are all grown men. I’m 27.”
“You and your brothers will always be my babies. I want you to have faith that I am going to a better place.”
“I do have faith, but the doctor says that you are suffering.”
“Remember when your grandma was sick, I told you that she used to sing with the angels. What is God telling you about me?”
“He is telling me that the pain that you feel is your wings.”
“Did you say my wings?”
“Yes, He is transforming you into one of His beautiful angels. The more pain that you feel; the bigger and more beautiful your wings will be.”
“Thank you. Remember that I will always love you. Don’t be afraid to talk to God. Everything happens for a reason.”
“Mom, I love you. You will always be in my heart.”
My mother passed away the following weekend. I can still hear her heart. I thought I would never stop crying for her, and I haven't. The pain is still there but it is the pain of not being able to hold her or hear her laughter. I know that God has greater things for me. God has opened my heart to hear things that I never knew existed. I have a daughter that loves to hear about her grandmother. Her little heart already speaks to me. I have only shared this story with two other people, but I am letting it out to honor God and my mom. I pray that this can help people deal with the loss of a loved one.
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Eli, Thanks for sharing from the heart. That is where good writing begins. I like what all the others have said to you and add my support for their comments. On a personal note, my mother is now 86 and has alzheimers. For that reason, I heard what you wrote with my heart.
Loved how you wrapped up the story.
I agree about the sentence structure and breaking it into paragraphs...
Having said that, you shared a part of you, made me cry, stirred me.
Keep writing...along the way, fine tuning of our work is ongoing...May God bless you as mother in your own relationships.
Eli, what a gift, your mother. A woman who knew and understood what LOVE looks like...and had the courage to walk it. And God granted her the wisdom to pass it on to you, and you in turn will pass it on to your daughter...for hearts always speak to hearts, even when they're no longer visible to the eyes.
I was especially moved by "the pain grows wings"...for with them we fly into His grace.
Eli, please do pursue writing. You have all the right stuff, and this was a painfully personal subject to use for your first article, but you handled it with honesty and sensitivity. From a critique point of view, you need to watch the dialogue. You got it right toward the end of the article, but missed it at the start. Where there is a new person speaking, you need to start a new paragraph. Otherwise it's a bit hard for the reader to keep track. The other very minor thing was the reference to places such as, "Loraine" and "Sweetwater". Because you're writing for a wide audience of readers around the world, references to actual places like this means very little. It would actually work better to just leave it out altogether and perhaps mention that it was a long journey, or whatever to the nursing home. Then say, "On the way back home." It's just a minor thing. If it was a novel, then you've got the room to be a bit more specific. But for a short piece like this, it's best to leave out the location specifics - they're just not necessary. But please keep writing. This touched my heart and spoke of the fears that I have myself. With love, Deb