The Unforgettable Nightmare

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?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” If you don’t see a “Reply to this post,” then go to the previous post and look just above it. On that very bottom line of that last section  you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.


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Best regards,

4 thoughts on “The Unforgettable Nightmare

  1. On Friday morning before I left for work, I put the morning newspaper by my mom’s back door. When I returned home from work running a fever and just wanting to go to bed, I noticed that the newspaper was still by the back door. Fear filled my head. I found her in her bedroom on the floor. She wouldn’t let me call 911 so I managed to get her to the couch where she could stretch out. I attended to her the best I could then she sent me home because I was sick. Saturday, I found her crawling to the bathroom and I called one of my brothers to help me take her to the hospital. She still would not allow me to call 911 due to her messy house. That was the beginning of the end. Nothing broken but another fall at rehab then a stroke and five long years in a nursing home. I miss her so much but I will see her again in heaven.


  2. Yea, that is surely a bad memory. I know about dead people and it is fearful to see a lifeless corpse where there was once an animated, beloved person. I was with my sister the night she died. I heard and saw the last sigh escape her lips and remember the whisper of air that vacated her lungs when her being moved from the living phase to the dead.

    the Italians have a custom that if you don’t touch the dead person in their casket you cannot forget them. SO when my godfather died when I was about 10 I was told to touch his skin in the funeral home for fear I could not let him out of my mind. I did. I was just a kid. It is a terrible thing to tell children.

    I think the worst memory I have is the earthquake in Colombia which I miraculously survived. I was buried under the rubble of a four story bank that fell over and was almost crushed to death. But I was pulled out, started breathing, and after recuperating lead a very active life.

    However, I think about it often. It causes me to hesitate to get in elevators or go into underground parking garages. I work on this fear but it is now etched in my genetic code, I fear, and will visit itself, this bad memory, on any grandchildren I may have.

    It was also a seminal moment in my life when I decided to throw off my old life and the foolishness I was involved in and begin to live the life I was best suited for, that of an explorer. Not just any kind of exploration, mind you, but a feverish mental voyage where I go to find the absolute meaning of life.
    Does it exist? Is there a meaning? Not sure yet. But I am leaning toward the idea that life has a purpose and some people even have destiny. Who knows?


    • Tom, I knew a little of your story, but only a little. Thank you so much for the rest of the details about your earthquake experience and telling about your sister’s death and your godfather.

      You have turned into quite an explorer, haven’t you?

      I believe life has purpose, and that purpose is to please God. I believe He created people because He desired our companionship and our love. But if He’d forced us to love Him, it wouldn’t be love. We’d basically just be His pets. By giving us a choice, love is genuine.

      I know you have problems with a lot of what you’ve seen in Christianity and in a number of different Christians, but God is still in the process of molding His children–the ones who are seeking to become more like Jesus, anyhow.

      I’m looking forward to Heaven, yes, but Jesus assured us of a more meaningful earthly life than we could know without living God’s way, and regardless of things I may gripe about from time to time, I take joy in knowing that pleasing God is my purpose for living.


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