The words hit like a bolt of lightning on my e-mail screen. “My mom is dying. Do you think the amount of sadness is determined by how much you love someone? I must really love my mom,” the next words read, “because this really hurts.”
This e-mail from Regina, my friend of twenty years, stopped me in my tracks. It was times like this that I wished I were still near enough to visit her and have tea. The memories of my mom’s last few days rushed in and flooded my mind.
I’d sat on my mom’s bed in the hospital and just touched her arms and legs so she’d know she wasn’t alone. It is a surreal feeling to watch as someone you love prepares to cross over. Her face was peaceful. I wondered how many times I had kissed her cheeks. How many smiles did she make while she watched me, my sisters, and the grandkids grow? The wig on her head balanced just so, and all I could think of was the times she used foam rollers every night to get that perfect hairdo.
She was pregnant with my youngest sister then and she had used her belly to hold the rollers. That worked unless my sister kicked and then the rollers would tumble onto the couch.
At one point, the entire family was gathered in the hospital room. I just looked up at the ceiling and asked, “Could someone please page Jimmy Lawless in heaven? Dad, it’s time for you to ask Mom to dance.” And then I cried. How do you tell someone it’s time to go onto a better world?
I like to think that Saint Peter paged my dad: “Jimmy Lawless to the front gate, please. Bette is waiting for you to bring her home.”
Mom worked at The Delaware Market House for three generations of the Toland family. She considered them extended family. She worked there for fifty-five years. She did the billing, and she loved her customers. On one of her last nights in the hospital, I sat with her. She was on morphine, and she thought she was totaling up orders for the end of the month. Her fingers were tapping away in the air. Even on her deathbed, she was a devoted employee.
Mom had always been a lively and fun person to be around. She laughed easily and loved deeply. At her Mass, I read her eulogy, and I could hear her saying, “Anne, speed this up. These people are hungry. And would someone please get Aunt Ag and Helen a cup of tea?” She always took care of her family. Much like Regina’s mom, she cared about family.
Regina and I had always hoped that our daughters would be friends. They were in the same grade at the same school. They are very alike. I think our moms would have been great friends too. Regina and I wanted our friendship to span through the generations.
Regina’s mom, Joan, was sick for a longer time than I experienced. Joan had suffered strokes, which left her unable to speak, but she could get her message across. Regina said that this had renewed her dad’s love for her mom. I guess realizing that someone won’t be there every day anymore makes life much clearer.
I’d met Joan a few times. She reminded me of my mom. I didn’t know Joan very well, but I knew the daughter she had raised, and if daughters are anything like their mothers, Joan was a very sweet and strong lady.
Two days before her mother passed, Regina sent a note that it wouldn’t be much longer. Her mom was getting tired and weak. Regina prayed that the angels would lift her and spare her the pain. She hoped soon that our moms would be having a tea party in heaven.
Aww, a tea party in heaven! What a warm and loving thought! When we lived closer together, Regina and I always met for tea and talked about everything under the sun. Even after I moved to Florida, we’d have a cup of tea over the phone.
Times like these make it so hard to be far away when someone you love is so sad. I know she has fond and funny memories of her mom. I just wish I could give her a big hug and be there with her. It’s a three-cup kind of day, for sure.
I know there will be a tea party by phone very soon. I hope that the one in heaven has already begun.
Leave a Reply