Alma Jo Thomas
Mother, my mind is full of your words. I can even hear your voice in my head.
“You must brush your teeth after every meal.”
“Make up your bed!”
“You left wrinkles in the bedspread. Pull this way to get them out.”
“Just be sweet. You’ll have friends.”
“Clean your plate. You know, kids in Africa wish they had food.”
You told me about the photographer who specialized in children’s pictures. With a twinkle in your eye you said, “He picked out the little girl with curly hair. I told him she was mine.”
Whenever I sang in children’s choir you’d say, “I saw you the moment I walked in. I saw my little girl up there. You were in the third row.
As I got older, you scolded less. You saw my maturity. I succeed in academics, and you knew you could depend on me. Once in high school, I had a cold and asked to go home early. The secretary thought I was malingering. You set her straight. “If Cindy says she’s sick, believe her!”
Ray asked permission to marry me, and you said. “Have you prayed about it?”
You liked Ray and told Dad, “Honey, Ray’s a perfect gentleman.”
When Charity came I remember the joy in your face as you held your first grandchild. I watched you care for her and could see your love. When you held Joy in your arms, you said, “Cindy, I feel like I’m holding you again.”
You didn’t need to say words—I could see your love. Making their fancy dresses took hours. (Did you think of the dresses you made me while you sewed?) Each birthday, each Christmas you made sure your gifts for each child were appropriate. And you prayed for me. Your friends told me that you always listed my prayer requests at Wednesday night prayer group.
“Let’s get going!” Your foot pressed the accelerator of life—until illness ceased the constant motion. That last December, you wanted to sit in the doorway of the kitchen while I decorated Joy’s birthday cake. I knew you just wanted to be close, and I liked that.
The day before your seventy-sixth birthday, I visited you in the hospital. I dressed you in a frilly pink nightgown. You said, “I’ll look at it tomorrow.”
I understood. You wanted to look nice after all those hospital gowns, but your eyes were dim. They could no longer see or perceive.
We held hands and sang. You didn’t realize it, but I had to leave the room a couple of times. Charity kept singing so you wouldn’t notice. I didn’t want my dying mother to know I was crying.
I hated to leave because I knew I wouldn’t see you again here. But the long drive home loomed before me, and I had to go. “Bye, Mom. I love you.”
“I ove you,” you replied.
I understood you couldn’t enunciate, but I heard the love you expressed.
Bye, Mom. I’ll see you in heaven.