This past summer my mother died. Her last residence was a nursing home in Woodsley , Ontario. We, her children, my brother and sister, knew it was coming, she had been slipping away for some time.
When the time came we called the funeral home and Anderson’s in Windsor,Ontario provided a service with professionalism and dignity. We celebrated her life with friends and relatives at a luncheon afterwards. Just like most families do.
I felt little pain or remorse and couldn’t understand that. Shouldn’t one, no matter their age, feel terrible sorrow, grief, sadness? I felt a smidgen of these emotions but not like I thought I should.
But I knew I would.
Like when my father passed away, falling dead at home from a massive heart attack. It wasn’t until about two weeks later when there was a documentary about boxers on the television and I went to the phone to call him, that the grief caught up to me. A hole opened up inside me at that moment. Then almost as quick as it was felt I began filling it with memories, good memories and some not so good, but that was ok. And in that reserved place, to this day, I continue to fill with thoughts of ‘the old man’.
With Maw, the hole didn’t appear for a few months later when I got ill. As I laid in bed I couldn’t help but think of my mothers nurturing ways. She really loved taking care of us. And as a kid who hated school , I took full advantage of her soft side.
You see, Mags had ears like an owl. Even the mice would tip toe through the house for fear of being found out. So, I would wait for some very early hour and crawl out of bed. Make my way to the bathroom, maybe drag my slippered feet a bit, and jiggle,ever so lightly as to not over do my plan, the aspirin bottle. Then make my way back to bed. My job was done for now. Several hours later she would call us for breakfast and I would softly eek out a tiny moan. She would then turn to the old man, who despised us missing any school, and say she’s keeping me home from school. “He was up all night” she would tell the old man. Worked out a lot for me.
And then, in a flash, this lovely person was in a nursing home. Where did the years go, I wondered. At first we would take her to dinner on a weekly basis. Bonnie ,my sister, visited Mags almost daily. For the next several years Bonnie’s life was organized around Maw’s needs.
Slowly Mags started to forget who we were. I will admit that my feeling were hurt more than once when my mother didn’t recognize me. I told myself not to worry about it and at least we knew who she was. So our visits continued, and Mom would smile and enjoy these strangers who came to sit with her.
Then one day I went to visit and couldn’t find her. I looked in the T.V. room and seen the poor souls staring blankly, some towards the television, some at the walls. I checked her bed, and the dinning room, finally making my way back to the T.V. room. There she was, I had walked right past her and didn’t recognize my mother. Carefully I pulled her wheelchair over to a sofa, then sat down to chat with her. Mags wasn’t there anymore, her body was so thin and fragile. She did muster a tiny smile but the usual gleam in her eyes was gone. It was heartbreaking.
A few more days she slipped into a coma, she never recovered and struggled for life for the next five days.
We sat with her faithfully and were joined by so many other caring relatives. The staff from Country Village, every one of them, expressed their fondness for Maw.
Bonnie was with Mom when she passed on. Mags was never alone in her last days.
Mags was cremated and her ashes placed next to the old mans on our vacation property in northern Ontario. We placed a plaque up for each of them. I know they would be pleased, so I feel real good about that.
Tomorrow , God willing, the sun will rise and life will go on. People, animals and plants will die and brand new babies will be born. And us survivors, well, we go on packing those special holes with memories. And, alas ,we feel good again.
Jack Bennett Sr.
Keep the faith friends, it get’s better, it always does.