Mum died a week ago today in the rest home hospital room she had lived in for nearly two years. It was on my vigil watch at 2:45am that she drew her last breath, peacefully. What a blessed moment as I, her eldest child, was able to hold her hand as she moved from her frail, earthly body into a place of peaceful rest. After nearly 86 years of joy and sorrow; being loved and loving; caring for children and being cared for by them; cooking and cleaning; being a friend and finding friendship; marrying and burying a husband; mum has returned to her Creator.
One of the more inspirational books I gave read is Mitch Albom's, 'Tuesdays with Morrie.' An inspirational story of conversations between a professor with a terminal illness and a former student who recorded their dialogue. One of Albom's quips is, 'But behind all your stories is always your mother's story, because hers is where yours begins.'
Indeed mum's story is profoundly interwoven with mine. Her father died in a trucking accident when she was 3 and her mother died soon after her marriage and a few months before I was born, when she was 21. As a 22 year old I lost my wife Maureen to cancer less than 2 years after we married. Mum grew up with a brother who suffered the ravages of brain damage at birth. Uncle Will lived with us all the years I was at home, teaching me to be caring of the differently abled as mum was all her life, until Uncle Will's death in 1998.
Mum's kindness and tenderness was formed in the furnace of affliction. Her enjoyment from making people happy, especially through her cooking, was profound. Her respect for the individuality of all 4 of her children was modelled on her experience of relationship with her very able mother and her older siblings, Joan and Will.
Another legacy of mum's dying is that we her children are now devoid of parental presence and care. We have become the senior family members - kaumatua (elders) or koroua and kuia (grandparents) in Maori. Our new roles have been modelled well by our parents and grandparents. Our challenge as mum's children is to age and die well in our senior years. May we rise to the challenge to stand tall as elders in our family - mau tangata.
This is a place where we can discuss mentoring, ministry and what we have found helpful for sustaining our inner lives and good relationships.