She’s been busy, my mother. Over the past couple of weeks, she’s given away clothing she thinks will never be worn again. She’s returned borrowed books to their owners, and given away many others leaving her now with a Bible and two other books. She has consolidated the remaining contents of two chests of drawers down to one. She has decided which of the many hand-made works of art are to be kept on her walls, and which are to be removed.
Mom called me today.
Mom: Hello, Fred. How are you?
Me: Just peachy, Mom. How ’bout you?
Mom: I’m great ! How’s Lisa?
Me: She’s fine.
Mom: Good. I want to talk with you. It’s going to take a while. I have much to say.
Me: Well, Lisa and I are out doing errands and we’re planning to visit you a bit later. Will that do?
Mom: Oh, yes…if it’s not too much trouble.
Me: No trouble at all, Mom. We’ll see you in a little while. (The telephone call ends.)
Me: I wonder what this is about.
Lisa: Sounds heavy.
We finished our last-minute Christmas errands, picking up a few things for Mom along the way. Then, on to Piedmont Place. Mom was customarily relaxing in her big easy chair and listening to a CD of Christmas music by a Brooklyn (NY) choir. It was, as always, a vision of peace.
Mom had placed two folding chairs opposite her own before our arrival. We sat down not knowing what to expect. After some “inventory” and small talk, she got down to business.
“I want Elizabeth to read the 51st Psalm at my funeral. Michael and Lisa and you can speak as you wish, but I do want each of you to speak. I want a certain song to be sung. I don’t know its name, but a friend does (Mom gave me her name and number). I want the rest of my clothes to be given to Piedmont Place so they can be given to people here who need them. And I want my Pastor to officiate the funeral.”
Lisa leaned into Mom and asked: “Are you and God planning something that we’d like to know about?” To our small surprise, Mom actually paused for several long seconds before shrugging her shoulders and saying, “I’m ready to go.”
In my computer rests a file created in 2005. It contains Mom’s wishes for the details of her own funeral. The subject has come up in discussion several times in the years since. Each time, I’ve taken notes and the revisions or changes have been made to the document. This I will do again today. Not a problem; nor is the execution of her wishes.
Mom has a bit of a cold right now; it’s the first cold she can remember ever having. She almost canceled dinner with George and Sally on Tuesday, did cancel Christmas activities at Piedmont Place this afternoon, and has already announced her intention to skip church this Sunday. “I don’t want to give anyone my germs.”
A cold will not take my mother down; at least I don’t think so. I’ve expressed before my belief that Mom has some good years yet ahead despite Parkinson’s and dementia. Whether I’m right or wrong, whether she goes sooner or later, at least Mom has the peace that goes with having her ‘house’ in order. More power to her.