Adie just asked me if Jesus took that picture of grandma Linda up in heaven.. makes me laugh, happy and sad all at the same time. The above picture was taken just 3 weeks before mom died at Greg and Natalie's wedding. Didn't she look stunning?
8 years ago today my mom ended her battle with cancer and gave Jesus a high 5 and a hug at the gates of heaven. I've always been weird about mom's special dates.. her birthday, mother's day, the day she died.. most of the time my emotions don't get crazy bad on the actual special day. It was the same with her 8th anniversary approaching. Last Sunday in church I lost it. When I say I lost it I mean I went through an entire purse size kleenex do-dob in about 10 minutes. It was while our praise band was belting it out and I often wonder if the praise and worship time in heaven is similar to what we experience on earth. It's probably not even close. =) It just got me thinking about mom and I couldn't get a hold of my feelings. I could imagine my mom sitting at the end of a pew in her comfy pink recliner like she did so many Sunday's during worship time before she died. Her cancer was in her lower back and hips so when she sat in a pew.. it hurt. Someone at church anonymously donated a pink rocker for her to sit in so that she could come to church and not be in (as much) pain. I had forgotten about that until recently and I realize that lately I've been forgetting a lot. So I guess with this post I want to jot down a few things that I remember about her in hopes it will help me not forget. And maybe you'll get just a glimpse of how amazing and funny and awesome my mom was. =)
She wasn't' the most athletic gal. =) She'd be the first to tell ya. She never DREAMED that many of the hours of her life would end up sitting on a bleacher watching softball, basketball, volleyball and gymnastics... sports her family members loved. She always brought her cushion because the hard seat hurt her butt long before there was cancer. She always kept track of EVERY teammates score on my gymnastics team on her little clipboard she'd take to every meet. I always knew I could go up to her and know who won the meet before the announcer told us who won the meet. She was always right. =) Mom and dad never missed a meet.. well, just sectionals my junior year and that was the meet I dislocated my shoulder. I was pretty sure it happened because they weren't there. =) I remember that me doing my routine on beam made her stomach hurt. She hated it. Thought I was going to get hurt or fall.. which I totally did and she gasped EVERY time. =)
I will never forget the day when her and my dad showed up at my apartment door my sophomore year of college and told me they had arranged a meeting with a counselor because they couldn't stand my eating disorder winning any longer. Mom had called the church I was attending and had gotten a list of counselors in the area. She had done so much research because she was so, so worried about her baby.
There was a family vacation every year that always included a road trip filled with ziploc baggies full of twizzlers, stupid songs and trivia on what every state's capital was. And there was a family vacation EVERY year.. she made sure of it. =)
When she got to pick out her brand spanking new Honda Accord a few years before she died.. she picked the one without the spoiler on the back because it would be "too hard to wax." We all busted up because never once did my mom wax a car.
Mom didn't complain. Like when we had the red mini van the transmission went out on it and it would be driving along and all the sudden it would stop running and we'd coast to a stop. She'd put out her "mama seat-belt arm" and get us to the side of the road. I'm pretty sure I was in high school and the "mama seat-belt arm" still came out. =) We'd then have to wait a few minutes and the van would turn back on and we'd be on our merry way. She never complained about the van. She also never complained about her illness and how much pain she really was in. Hospital nurses would fight over her because she was a dream patient. She was a "hard stick" when it came to giving blood and her feet would start to roll around as the nurses had a needle in her vein fishing for a blood vessel to give her chemo or to draw blood.. I remember one of them saying, "Linda.. you can quit smiling! We know this is causing you a ton of pain!" They always moved us to the "suite" corner hospital room when mom was admitted. Two of her nurses even came to her viewing and funeral.
While I want to remember so many good memories of her well.. there are also memories of her sick that I never want to forget either. Like when I'm pretty sure she saw an angel outside her hospital window. She woke up from a dead sleep in the hospital just before she died and said,
"Denny (my dad)... there is a man in a tuxedo outside that window!"
Dad looked, saw nothing and informed her that it would be kind of hard for a man in a tuxedo to be standing outside the window because we were on the 6th floor. Mom in turn replied,
"Well that's his problem!"
And one of the BEST stories of her and her wig. We were sitting at the dinner table eating one night in the summer and a fly was buzzing around our heads. It got close enough to mom and she grabbed her wig off of her head and swatted at that pesky ol' fly. I'm pretty sure we cried because we were laughing so hard!
I will NEVER forget the day she died. Ever. She was close to meeting Jesus and she asked for a tape recorder for her to talk into. Greg (big bro) held it up to her mouth and what we thought would be messages to us ended up being a prayer. She started it with, "Dear Jesus, thank you for this wonderful day." She was praising and thanking Him just hours before she met him face to face. Also.. at her funeral the minister was a great family friend and had just performed my great aunt's funeral just weeks before mom died. Aunt Nancy's funeral was tough because we sat as a family in the second row and KNEW that we would be sitting in the first row of mom's funeral all too soon. We knew it was close. She knew it was close. We all sobbed uncontrollably in that second row pew and I remember mom patting us on the leg and putting her arm around us in comfort. Each one of us.. especially dad. What we didn't know until her own funeral when the same minister mentioned it in her eulogy was that she had a smile on her face during my aunt's entire service. The entire thing. I knew she didn't shed a tear but the minister was the only one with the front row view of her smiling. As we were preparing ourselves for what was to come, my mom was REJOICING with what was to come! When we were sad because we knew she was next.. she was JOYFUL that she was next!
There are so many things she has missed in 8 years. She missed Denise and I's weddings. She's missed the empty nest years with dad and all the traveling and cruising it would have brought. She missed their 35th anniversary.. and a 40th one coming up very soon. She's missed her best friends' lunch dates and all the giggles. She's missed 8 grandchildren's births. And she would have totally guessed that my sister would have 2 babies at one time instead of just having 1 because she knows Denise is super efficient like that. She would be so proud that Denise and I and Greg's wife Natalie all stay at home with our babies.. just like she did and made so many sacrifices to do so. She would love my girls so incredibly much and I can just imagine them yell, "Mamaw!" when she'd walk through our front door. She would have been at the hospital when they were born.. but not in the room. She always told me that "that was a time for you and your husband, not with your mother." But she would have busted through that door in as soon as we'd let her. =) She'd love Adie's heart and Joya's spunk. She'd spoil them with crafts and gifts but best of all... love and affection.
Man.. I miss her. There's not a day that goes by that I don't think of her and long for her to be back here on this earth. But Jesus wanted her home. And I'm ok with that.. just don't want to forget a second of the 23 years I had with her. And every day I'll strive to be as Godly, loving, friendly, confident and a servant as she was.
Happy 8th birthday in heaven, mom. Love you.