A few weeks ago I posted some memories of my mother. I enjoyed doing that.
But one horrible memory stands out in my mind more clearly than many of the others.
I was at church (not our current church) one Wednesday night at choir practice. We were rehearsing in the choir room. It was approximately 8:00 when someone came to the door to tell me my wife was on the phone; that was in 1994, years before I had a cell phone.
Debbie (my first wife) was frantic. She talked with my mother on the phone practically every day, but after trying to reach her repeatedly all day, she was concerned that something might have happened to her. Although I probably questioned that, I couldn’t afford to take a chance. After all, my mother was in her eighties and living by herself after the death of my father a year earlier.
I went back to the choir room and told them I needed to run check on my mother. Then I headed off on a mission I half dreaded and half expected to be unnecessary.
When I pulled up in front of the house, my stomach plunged. The front porch light was off. My mother always turned it on at night, even when she wasn’t expecting company.
More frightening still, however, was the fact that no lights were visible inside.
I always carried a key to Mother’s house, so getting in was no problem. But what was I going to find?
I turned on lights as I moved from room to room, calling out for my mother as I went. I finally went into her bedroom.
She was lying in bed. Perfectly still. Completely lifeless. Blood had come out of her mouth and spilled on to the bed. It was dry. I tried taking a pulse, although I knew that was probably a useless effort.
When I called 9-1-1–the only time I’ve ever had to do that–I couldn’t bring myself to tell them I was sure she had died, but I did tell them I didn’t see any point in trying mouth-to-mouth resuscitation when they suggested it.
Minutes later, police, emergency personnel, and a fire truck arrived outside. While several of them checked on Mother, I gave the others the few details I knew. They were kind and professional, and I appreciated their presence.
At some point I called Debbie to let her know Mother had died. She must’ve called the church, because our pastor showed up not long after that. They must’ve already taken mother’s body by then, though, because I asked our minister to help me get the bloody mattress out.
The details of what happened seem vague now, but I’ll never forget seeing my mother lying in bed that way, the victim of an apparent major stroke.
I think most of us want to die in our sleep. I do. I have no idea whether my mother suffered at all or whether her death was almost instantaneous. But I’ll always believe any suffering was minimal.
Not my most cheerful blog post, I know, but I needed to share that with whoever is willing to read it. Perhaps I’m more conscious of what I went through that night because I’m growing older day by day, and–although I hope and pray I have many good years left–my immortality is not something earthly. It’s heavenly.
Have you ever experienced something you can’t seem to forget about it? Maybe not something you think about often, but–when you do–something that’s disturbing. Would you be willing to leave a comment?
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