My Mom died last Sunday.
Margaret Vedder Bost, my Mom, was 92 years old, and had had a rich and deeply rewarding life, so her passing wasn’t entirely unexpected.
Reading her obituary, I’m struck by the scope of her accomplishments – after all, she was mainly just Mom to me.
Even so, I have to admit that I’m really still in shock.
A Christmas Visit
My Mom and Dad have shared an apartment in a North Carolina assisted living facility for some time now, and in recent months my Dad’s physical health concerns have seemed much more serious than my Mom’s.
But when I arrived at their apartment for a visit on the afternoon of Christmas Day, it was my Mom who was suffering.
She complained that she’d had a bad cold for four or five days, and couldn’t seem to shake it.
During my visit I suggested that we would get her to a doctor if her condition hadn’t improved by the following morning. That seemed to reassure her.
Then I went to spend the evening at my sister’s house, about 20 minutes away.
At breakfast the next day, my sister got a call from the assisted living facility.
My Mom’s oxygen levels had been dropping precipitously. They had taken her to the emergency room at a nearby hospital.
We went right over.
The rest of the day was full of tests, consultations with physicians, and the complications of getting her admitted and situated in a hospital room.
She was having difficulty breathing, so was getting some assistance from respiratory care, but the real challenges were congestive heart failure and a nearly total loss of kidney function.
I stayed in town a couple of extra days, so I could get to the hospital for multiple visits.
My Mom’s condition seemed to be stabilizing a bit, and there was talk of ongoing care strategies. So I felt a reduced sense of urgency and left town. I returned home to Florida a few days later.
But not long after I got back home, Mom was moved to a hospice facility for end-of-life care. She died there in the early morning hours on Sunday, January 8, just a little over seven months shy of her 70th wedding anniversary.
Patty and I returned to North Carolina to participate in a memorial service for her on Saturday.
It was truly a wonderful time, quite comforting and uplifting. My childhood friend Dick Fritz, who is now the pastor at the Lutheran church Mom and Dad attended, officiated at the service. He added a personal, loving touch. And it was heartwarming to embrace cousins, children, nieces and nephews who had traveled great distances to join us for the event.
But as always with the passing of a loved one, there are so many things left unsaid. And there are so many memories that reappear unexpectedly.
The Mystery of Time
Like the conversation I had with my Mom when I was about 5 years old. I asked her when I was born.
“You were born at exactly 1:23 a.m.,” she replied. “I remember it exactly, because the time was one-two-three!”
The wonder of having an exact birth time. It was, no doubt, my earliest inspiration for becoming an astrologer!
But death, like birth, perpetually reminds us of just how precious and mysterious time really is.
As Aldous Huxley said, “There seems to be plenty of it.”
But when someone leaves us, the opposite seems to be the case.
Maybe my Dad, who’s 91 now, said it best the day before my Mom died. The assisted living staff had taken him to the hospice for a good-bye visit with my Mom, whom he had married in 1947.
One of the staff members asked him, “How long have you and your wife been married?”
“Not nearly long enough,” he said.