Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Renewed by Relationships

Lucy eating her last homemade meal from Grammy:  leftover Chinese that was in the fridge.
One of the great blessings that I have received in these past few weeks is feeling the love of my Mom through the relationships she had in her life.  I have felt God’s presence and ultimate goodness while with people whom my Mom loved, and it has renewed my spirit.

One such relationship was with Roy.  After an unfortunate accident that left him a paraplegic, Roy has been bedridden for forty years.  For thirty of those forty years, my Mom had been visiting with him in the nursing home.  She would take jokes and read them to him.  She would feed him. She would send him cards. The list goes on… Overwhelmed with sadness, but encouraged by the Holy Spirit, my Dad, Lucy and I went to visit with Roy to share the news of my Mom’s passing.  On his bedside stand was one of her famous homemade computer cards; she had sent it for Valentine’s Day. The outpouring of his emotion on the news of my Mom’s death confirmed two things for me:  the extent of my Mom’s charitable heart and the depths of her love in action to others.  I felt Jesus’ presence in the room that day, as I truly realized how much my Mom followed in His footsteps and led her life similar to how He did.  The experience has stirred me to do more and complain less.  Mostly, I am grateful to still be getting lessons from my Mom.  I have come to understand that it is through these experiences with my Mom (both in the past and future) that Lucy will come to know her Grammy.

My Mom loved this picture of Lucy:  "Butterfly Nose."
One of the things my Mom did the day she died was mail out her annual St. Patrick’s Day party invitations.  Notably, she had it written in her calendar to mail these invites the next day.  Thinking that it was no coincidence that they went out early, and after discussion with my Dad and sister, we decided to still have the party.  It was a wonderful celebration of my Mom’s life; her presence was felt everywhere.  My spirit was further renewed by hearing stories from my Mom’s friends about their relationship, seeing how important she was to so many, and feeling that love in action yet once again.  I imagine Mom may have been beaming down with pride that everyone was there, honoring her Irish tradition and celebrating her life….as some said at the party, it was a true “Irish wake.”  She wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

Everyone having fun...
Lucy with Mrs. Darnell, who also has a granddaughter from China.
My Dad enjoying himself with his friends.
Lucy was so friendly, allowing many to hold her...
My niece, Lindsay, my sister, Lisa and Mr. Gorrell.
Happy St. Patrick's Day, Mom!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Mother's Love

Our last visit with Grammy...on Jaunary 29th.

Recently, time has unexpectedly stopped in its tracks.  It is with a heavy heart that I share that my mom passed away suddenly on February 24th.  One moment you are eating dinner with your husband, daughter and sister-in-law, and the next moment you can barely breathe.  It was that quickly that life showed its fragility...and changed forever. 

Grammy and Papa came for an over night stay last summer.

Words escape me.  There is so much I want to say about my Mom.  It seems important that I honor her here, as she  loved that I wrote this blog.  She  was quite possibly  its biggest fan.  It pains me to write this  and know she is no longer here to read it.  Living two hours apart from one another, this blog was one of the many ways that I shared  Lucy with her.  My Mom favored displaying her love for others through her actions;  one of the many ways she did this for me was by helping with this blog.  She helped set it up, published posts while I was in China, contributed through comments and occasional guest posts, and sent me cell pictures that I had taken and sent her, so that I could post them here.  Her hand print is all over these pages, not just by how she helped, but by how she inspired me and encouraged me.  Quite possibly one of the hardest parts about all of this is that Lucy will not know Grammy and all her tender, thoughtful, giving ways. 

Grammy loved to read to Lucy.

As I have been going through this immeasurable loss, I have learned many things about my Mom.  This is what has been sustaining me,  inspiring me and humbling me.  For example, she did some freelance writing on the web.  I never knew about this, nor did my siblings, as my mom was not one to boast or draw attention to herself. Her creative spirit, humor and literary expertise shines through in her writing.  Now these articles are like tiny little presents that I can open each day.   Thank you, Mom. 

She did so much to help others, and sacrificed so much for her children and grandchildren.  In these past  two weeks , my family  has learned through each other, and my mom's friends, the extent of her humility and love;  the enormity of it has  been overwhelming to me.  I view what I have learned about my  Mom as graces that God has been showering me with to help me cope.   I must remember to keep looking and listening for these graces, as they are truly gifts from above.
At a baby shower for Lucy that was given by my Mom's friends.

One of those graces was given to me on Monday this week.  As I was going through my Mom's email (to finalize/close things up) I noticed one form DaySpring, a Christian-based website.  My mom must have subscribed to their weekly devotionals.  Here is what showed up in her inbox for me to read :

Hope as You Start a New Week...

Hello You...
the one welcoming a new week and wondering what it holds.
I don't know.
But I'm certain of this-there's One who holds us.
And He promises nothing is impossible for you.
Not that mountain you're facing.
Not that task you're dreading.
Not that decision you're afraid to make.

He may not tell us the details of what's to come
but He reminds us of what's ours no matter what...
A future.
A plan that's as good as He is.


You're Loved...
More than you know.
More than you see.
Deeper than you've dared to dream.
All you fear that might hold you back
has been wiped away, forgiven,
covered up by grace.
The One who created you,
knows you, calls you his own,
looks at you with love
and says, "You're mine forever."
Your heart has a home
and it's not a place
but a Person who will never let you go.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

I read this and thought:  Mom is still talking to me.  
One year ago, when we were home for St. Patrick's Day

There is so much more that I want to say.   But for now, this is what felt right to express.  I imagine more will come in the weeks and months to come.  Thanks to all of you who have reached out to me, sent cards or are praying.  It means so much, and provides great comfort.
She was always so happy when she was with Lucy.

Mom, you will forever be in our hearts.  We will strive to be like you.  We love you always.