Today, is one year since the last time I saw my Mother alive. My last memory of her is her walking me to my car and my turning around with this silly peace sign telling her not to do anything crazy while I was gone-she passed away the next day. I sit here wondering how daughters walk this path without their Mom when the loss comes at a young age, because I sit here with just an empty place in my heart and I didn’t lose her until days away from being forty-seven.
She had been sick for a while. She spent the last six weeks of her life under the care of hospice, mostly at home, but some days in the hospice house and she took her last breath under inpatient care. When I look back on the last weeks and think-“why didn’t it click”-I guess even under the care of hospice we, as humans, just don’t always grasp the finality of life on this earth when we learn the days are numbered in a much lower count than we had planned for. We get the “chinese fire drill” moments where you are told it’s minutes/hours…..but when you see someone have days where they get dressed and leave the house and enjoy tidbits of life….it doesn’t click. This is it….the final days….just doesn’t click. Death still comes as a surprise. Unexpected. Unwelcome.
This past year has been one where things have been seen that I wish I had seen before she passed away. I suppose that’s life though…we always see more clearly in retrospect. Today, I want to just let folks know that she lived. She was here. She was more than I realized.
Myra Janice Boren Page…..born August, 23, 1945. Jim Boren, her Dad, was a MS Highway Patrolman and died at a very young age of pancreatic cancer. I am the only living grandchild of her parents that has any memory of him. A proud veteran, he was a survivor of Pearl Harbor. Her mother, Louise Stoop Boren, was a force to be reckoned with. There was something special between Granny Louise and me and I miss her daily….along with so many others. She passed away several years ago due to liver cancer. Her death was a shock as it was maybe three weeks from the time of diagnosis to death…she never left the hospital after her liver biopsy. My mother has two sisters, both of which are still living in the Pickwick area….Cathy and Becky. Aunt Becky lost both of her sons due to a tragic accident. Dusty died instantly and Todd lived a few days longer. Incredible strength. Aunt Cathy has had several health issues, but she is a southern belle and I credit her with a lot of my “belle” tendencies due to summers spent at her house, along with Granny Louise.
My mother served in the Navy. She met my Dad, a Marine man, while in the Navy and they were married very quickly thereafter. I came along a little over a year later…I’m a military baby. (Probably where I get my restlessness over being in one spot too long.) Then came Shelley about eleven months later and Tracy a few years later and then, gasp, a baby brother the day after I graduated high school!
Over the years, she stayed at home and worked….I recall the many hours she spent working on crafts (she was crazy talented) and you can look in my home today and see several of her treasures she never felt were all that great-they are wonderful! I remember the hours she spent working at “Glo-Worm” in Memphis on pageant dresses, dance costumes….again, crazy talented. My all-time favorite pageant/prom dress she made for me…all based from my silly ideas on what I wanted…she made it come to life. She did not realize her gift, her talent…and sadly, I don’t think I did until she was gone.
Because of her, I was given Mississippi roots. (Dad has Texas roots, but we try not to hold that against him.) I can fish. I can clean a fish. I can cook and I do not consider butter my enemy. Because of her, I love General Hospital (well, the old version, not this crazy new thing on now)….and she was given that love from her Mammy. Because of her, I know no outfit is complete without a necklace and no one can ever have enough shoes.
I did not realize it until she was gone, but she is the one I learned that a Mom comes last from. It was modeled for me and I just didn’t see it until she was gone. My biggest cheerleader, my biggest critic, that person who you could show the “ugly” to and she was still there standing..waiting. I think that’s most Mom’s and I’m thankful that I can honestly say I gained that trait from her…..I will take the “ugly” and I will not waiver…I will still be there standing, waiting.
In some of her last wishes, going to the beach was probably number one or two. We couldn’t make that happen even though she had already planned out how it would all be…..so I think that’s a huge part of the reason we have chosen to head to the beach on this anniversary. It’s where she wanted to go….one last time. She loved the water as much as I do.
So, it’s a year and life has kept moving. It didn’t stop, even though so many days-I wish it would have. I’ve learned that death brings out the best and the worst in people. I’ve learned the little things that make people tick are magnified in grief-positive and negative. I’ve learned that there is no one who can replace the person God chose for you as your Mother. I’ve realized that God did choose her as my Mother for a reason….I can choose my friends, but He chose my parents.
This year I have realized that everything that takes place after a person dies is for those around that person-not the person no longer here. Not sure why I didn’t get that before now, but I didn’t. Honestly makes me wonder why we do most of what we do after a death…..seems almost cruel what we put a family through.
She is buried at the VA cemetery and one day my Dad will join her…..for now….we simply go visit her earthly resting place because we know it’s just an earthly symbol…she’s not really there. As with any death, you go and ponder your regrets over missed opportunities and celebrate those memories that are now treasures. I was fortunate to be able to spend almost every single day with her the last four months of her life….I have memories and moments that I never would have gained if I was not there. I saw a side of her marriage I did not know existed…and it’s a treasure. I saw who she was…not who I thought she was…and I am grateful for that treasure too.
I’ve wondered if when she walked to Jesus, were her parents and extended family there to greet her. Is that what Heaven will be? Will we be greeted by not only Christ, but also our family? I’ve seen little things happen in this past year that I attribute to her being in Heaven….precious moments with my daughter and her children…I know my Mother had a hand in that….if you knew her, you know she would not stop talking until she got her way. I have also wondered on many days what she is going to do to my Dad….let’s see….dogs are now “free-range Chihuahuas” , dogs sleep in the bed, dogs take their food to the bed, dogs bark nonstop and we won’t even talk about all the pictures now hanging on the wall. (I simply try to not be too close to him on stormy days due to fear of a bolt of lightening coming down.)
I get sad on those days I realize what all she is going to miss…the empty chair moments….her grandchildren getting married, graduating college, her great-grandchildren growing up….her baby boy one day getting married and having children and seeing him achieve the success she dreamed for….the thing called life that she will be not be here for.
Soon it will be five years, then ten years….and one day she will simply be that face in a picture people remember as they look through photos-my children’s children…..but she was here. She was a force. She was gifted. She is missed.