By Richard Mabey Jr.
In the midst of the Summer of 2018, I began taking my mom to Bingo every Thursday afternoon. Mom lived with me, in our gated community in Central Florida. Playing Bingo was a fun time, for both, Mom and myself. We met some very interesting people. And, we both learned the agony of waiting for just one number to be called to complete the horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line to be able to joyfully call out “Bingo!”
I think it was in the beginning of 2018 that Mom and I began attending classes, at our gated community, for developing skill and style for writing children’s stories. I remember that Mom excelled in the class. She made a lot of friends and people enjoyed hearing her array of children’s stories.
It was in early 2018 that Mom needed to depend upon a wheelchair to get around. The arthritis in her hips had gotten so bad that she was hardly able to walk. Mom’s cardiologist would not authorize that she was stable enough for hip replacement surgery, because of the degree of her heart murmur due to Aortic Stenosis.
In the middle of November of 2019, Mom had heart surgery to replace her Aortic Valve. There were post-operative complications and Mom needed to stay in the hospital. Thanksgiving Day came and Mom was still in the hospital.
On Thanksgiving Day, my sister Patti and I arrived at the hospital, bright and early to spend Thanksgiving Day with Mom. We made turkey sandwiches and packed them in a little insulated lunch box, complete with a plastic container of dry ice. We also packed two small bottles of iced tea to have with our special Thanksgiving meal with Mom that day.
An older woman came into Mom’s hospital room at about high noon. She carried with her a tray, with lunch on it. The kind woman smiled at Mom, put the tray down on Mom’s mobile, bedside table, said Happy Thanksgiving to Mom, then turned and returned to the hallway to the big lunch storage container on wheels.
And, behold, there it was the hospital cafeteria’s version of a Thanksgiving dinner. Oh, I do not want to be unkind here. But, let’s just say, it was mediocre at best. The turkey was that pressed turkey that comes in a roll and someone simply sliced it up. Mom was given two slices of this turkey roll with a sparing amount of gravy. There was a little white, corrugated, paper cup filled about three-quarters of the way with cranberry sauce. Not the real cranberry sauce, but rather the cranberry sauce that has a slight resemblance to gelatin. Then, there was a bit of stuffing, some green beans and then some corn. Not the greatest Thanksgiving meal that my Mom ever had, but still it was better than nothing.
I cut the turkey slices for Mom. She protested with every slice of the knife. “I’m not an invalid,” Mom kept telling me. I assured Mom that she wasn’t an invalid, that I wanted to slice her turkey for her.
Mom ate her turkey dinner, while my sister Patti and I ate our turkey sandwiches. It was a joyful moment in time. But it was definitely blanketed with a sprinkling of sadness. We talked about past Thanksgiving days. We remembered relatives, who were now having their Thanksgiving dinner in Heaven. We remembered places, pumpkin pies that didn’t cook so well, and times when there were so many relatives at the Thanksgiving table at the old Mabey Homestead, Mom would pray that the turkey would suffice. Miraculously, it always did.
None of us knew it at the time, but that would be Mom’s last Thanksgiving meal. When they replaced Mom’s Aortic Valve, the surgeons did not properly align it and Mom died from a slowly leaking heart valve.
Mom went Home to be with the Lord on the twenty-third of December, that following month, just last year. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t think of my mom. Life is so very short. None of us have any guarantees for tomorrow.
I live in a 55 plus, gated community in Central Florida. Because I worked as a Security Guard, for eight years, I have been blessed to come to know quite a few people. Whenever I hear someone say that they have stopped talking to a loved one, it brings a certain sadness to my heart. Believe it or not, I have even heard a few people in my church talk like this. It deeply saddens me.
I think there are three elements to having good relationships with loved ones. Those three things are: forgive, forgive again, and forgive yet again. If your Mom is still on this side of Heaven’s Gate, tell her how much you love her. I wish I could mine.
Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at email@example.com. Please put on the subject line: My Life Publications.