Mom was in her early eighties. She had stopped cooking. She had complained about her feet hurting as she walked from the parking lot to the gym at my daughter’s graduation in June.
By late August my mother’s health had declined quickly. My daughter and I had just returned from Augusta. My grandson had been transferred to the NICU at the Medical College of Georgia. After arriving home, we rushed to our local hospital where my mother had an appointment in the cancer ward. During the appointment my siblings and I were told that my mother had pancreatic cancer. We were informed that she had only a few months to live.
I had just accepted a teaching position in the low country of South Carolina. On weekends, I made the three-hour long drive through Barnwell, Aiken, and Augusta to come home to help my aunt care for my mom.
On a warm October morning, I stood by my mother’s bedside watching her labored breathing. The hospice nurse had informed us that she only had a few hours left. We made calls. My brother went to get my late dad’s sister, Aunt Helen. My sister left to make arrangements. My mom’s sister was at work. They left me alone with my dying mother. I am not the strong one in the family. I cry easiliy, but strength welled up in me. I held my mother’s frail hand and looked upward. The words to Amazing Grace caught my attention. I do not sing, yet the words started flowing on my tongue on that warm October morning. Amazing Grace. How sweet the sound…
My mom took her last breath. I checked for life. I called the nurse. She said she was on her way.
Before she arrived, my youngest sister stepped in the room.
“Julia,” she called out to my mom. Sometimes she would address my mom by her first name. I do not know why.
“She’s gone, ” I responded.
My siblings and I spent the next few days making plans for Mom’s homegoing service.
She is gone, but she is not forgotten.