May 3, 2011
A Smile to Remember
We had a great time, that visit, just hanging out together. AnnaKate and I treated her (and she treated us) to a spa pedicure. I watched and laughed as she and Daddy played Uno with the kids, again and again. She probably brought a craft to do with AnnaKate; she usually did.
And there were lots of hugs, lots of laughs, lots of words of encouragement. As always.
As they left, Daddy let me know that he wasn't sure if she could make the drive again; the long trip was awfully hard on her.
But that summer, she seemed to thrive -- even in the Chandler heat. We had worked out a schedule for me to call and check on her whenever Daddy was out of town. I called her one Thursday morning, her day off, but she didn’t answer. I calmly left her a message to check in with me, thinking she might be in the shower. An hour went by, no call. Another hour, I called and left another message… more urgent this time, wondering to myself who would be best to call locally to check on her.
Within a few minutes, she called back. “Sorry, I forgot you’d be calling,” she apologized. “I got up and went shopping this morning at Walmart.”
“Walmart?” I asked disbelievingly, knowing she always dreaded the vastness of Walmart and usually just sent Daddy instead.
“Yes, I just went in and got one of those electric scooters and zipped all around the store!” she proudly reported with her sassy Texas accent. I would have liked to have seen that, and I’ll bet she giggled at least once while she was zipping.
By fall, she and Daddy were planning their 50th anniversary trip for December, a leisurely drive up the Pacific Coast Highway. I was so excited and prepared a special trip box for them with a leather bound travel journal, traveling music, and other goodies. But then, shortly before their planned departure date, she developed shingles. I didn’t realize how painful shingles were, but even beyond the pain, I know they caused her frustration. Frustration at not being able to go to work. Frustration at not being able to take their trip. Frustration at having to wrap her arms, and at having this ugliness on her limbs.
She was mostly recovered from the shingles, but still not feeling well, when the holidays rolled around. She rallied her spirits, if not her body, enough to share Christmas Eve with my brother, my younger sister, and their families.
And then she was gone. Gone home to her Lord on His birthday, just a few weeks shy of her own 70th birthday. When Daddy called to tell me, it was just surreal. How could this woman, so full of life on even her worst days, no longer live? This woman, this mother of mine, had overcome so many things in her lifetime. Yet she would have been the first to say, “Not I, but Christ who lives within me.”
And at the end, at least the end from an earthly perspective, it was again Christ who overcame, this time overcoming death for her. And I am confident that this was the day that she really began to live, really live, more than she ever lived here on earth.