Sunday, August 27, 2006

Pressing On

One of mother’s major problems over the last twenty years of her life was cardio-pulmonary disease. She had great difficulty breathing everyday, had lonely hours, and had problems with depression. When asked by friends and family how she was doing she always responded cheerfully, “I’m pressing on. God is good.”

If you’re looking for a history or teaching post today… move along. I'm sorry, it just isn’t in me right now. I have several in the works but none where I want them to be for public viewing. Not yet….things whether good or just mediocre take time, you know. Just know that I’m pressing on, and God is good.

It’s been a busy weekend. I spent Friday night grading student renderings of a physical map of the U.S. that included eleven different features, a trip to Sam’s Club to purchase the makings of a family get-together for Dear Son’s belated birthday, and a very nice dinner with Handsome Hubby.

Once home Handsome Hubby checked the mail and awaiting me were the five death certificates I had requested at the time I made Mother’s arrangements. While I opened them I remarked to Handsome Hubby that I guess I would place them in the folder I have with her birth certificate until I need them. I immediately thought to myself what a tight little package that would make. A life condensed down to two sheets of information from beginning to end placed in a folder. Mom was so much more than that.

The very nice dinner turned into a back-and-forth odyssey once it lazed around in my system for awhile. All night long I made the short trip back and forth, back and forth until finally exausted I fell asleep. I pondered on the death certificate copies and thought about how much I missed Mom…..not just the nursing home mom of the past few years but the mom from my childhood. The one that held my head when I threw up, handed me a wet washcloth and later on in life would stand outside by the door giving me words of encouragement. Finally, I chastised myself by saying, “Now stop this. You know Mom knows you don’t feel good. She see’s that your upset and you are worrying her. Don’t worry Mom. Stop this.” By morning I was still feeling awful but ever the trooper I helped Handsome Hubby load the car and off to his parents we went.

It was a long, busy day but it was nice to celebrate Dear Son’s birthday with the in-laws, assorted brothers and sisters, including my own ‘doesn’t look a bit like me” sister, and a multitude of nieces and nephews. The thought was, “Gee, just when did we accumulate all of these kids anyway?” They were everywhere you stepped or sat.

During the early years of my marriage my mother and ‘doesn’t look a thing like me’ sister often joined all of us over at my in-laws as we celebrated a holiday or birthday. It was nice to have ‘doesn’t look a thing like me sister’ and beautiful neice join us again yesterday. It was nice, but bittersweet. We all missed mother even though she hadn’t been able to be with us there for several years.

Earlier this week I had another one of of those weird coincidences. I received a notice from the postman informing me they were holding a package with $1.30 postage due. Well, I was simply intrigued. In my normal manner I forgot to go by the post office for four days before I finally made it, but finally, there I was standing in a line with thirty of my fellow town citizens waiting, waiting, waiting. Finally I had my package. The return address label told me that my package was from one of Mom’s good friends who reside out of state.

Eons ago this lady was part of a group of Mom’s friends that did PTA work together, lunched together and at least once a month got together with husbands at someone’s house or a restaurant for dinner. In fact, this lady’s son was the “IT” boy in my elementary school. You know, the little boy that ALL the girls think is cute. Everyone wants to “like” him, “go steady with”him, or whatever today’s terminology is. In the 1970s this young man was a “hunk”, and my Mom was his Mom’s best friend. This meant I got to spend a lot of time with the school hunk and many, many girls were jealous. My claim to elementary school fame….however how fleeting.

I opened the package which contained a card, a small book with a faded cover, and a note from…….MY MOTHER. As I examined everything closer I was overwhelmed with the coincidences in this small package.

First of all it would seem that this book, When You Lose a Loved One by Charles L. Allen, was given to my mother by her friend in 1984 when my grandfather passed away. The friend wrote a message on the inside cover that says,

Dear Geri,

In memory of your daddy who you loved so dearly.

How sweet I thought, and then I looked at what was typed at the top of the page. It appeared to be a normal book dedication written by the author. It said:

In memory of Charles Simpson O’Neal
May 13, 1922-January 16, 1949
Son of Dr. and Mrs. W.S. O’Neal
__________, Georgia

I was stunned. What surprised me first is the birthday…….my birthdate is May 13th. The second surprise was the town where these folks hailed from. You guessed it….the same town where I currently live. In fact, this particular family referred to in the dedication is a very prominent family in the county where I live.

So, Mom’s friend sent this book to her when Papa died with no knowledge that my birthday and future town to live in was mentioned.

In 1986 Mom’s friend’s mother passed away. Mother penned a note and sent the book straightaway to her friend. Mom encouraged her friend by writing,

“Just a note to say I know what you are going through. No one really knows until they experience it. And no one knows the hurt---the pain and anguish of sickness and death until you yourself go through it.

But it always helps to know that others care---and I do.

Mother also wrote down the following passages from the Bible: Romans 8, verse 18 and verse 28; Romans 8, verse 38 and 37; Romans 14 verse 7 and 8; and Romans 15, verse 4.

Mom’s friend wrote a second note in the front cover to me this time. It said,

“Your mom mailed this book to me when my mother died, however, I gave it to her when your grandfather died, so, I feel it is appropriate to send it to you in her memory. Your mom was a very special friend who will remain close in my heart. I would not live without the love of my friends----your mom was the best and I will always cherish our friendship.”

The words of friends, the togetherness of family, the picture that suddenly falls out of a book and and makes you smile, a long forgotten note that clouds your eyes with tears, various insignificant memories, little coincidences that are much, much more than that…..this is all the stuff of pressing on.

I’m pressing on. God is good.


CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

Thanks for sharing the memories and the coincidences. I've missed your blogging for almost a week--and I really don't care what you write about!

You just keep pressing on, Sister. God is good.

EHT said...

As some of my country-folk family would say-----thanky-thanky for the praisin'