I always wanted a close relationship with my Mom but it seemed the more we tried the more we’d disagree on just about everything. We always seemed to manage to irritate
each other. We both had a tendency to be quite stubborn and strong-willed at times and that stubbornness would lead to the “battle of the wills.”
I truly longed
for a closer relationship with Mom and I knew she wanted the same but neither one of us knew how to achieve this. Exhausted from trying, I gave up and began to accept the distressing fact that we would never be close, which really saddened me.
As I began to pursue a more intimate relationship with Jesus, I prayed that my relationship with my mother be restored or at the very least that we wouldn’t argue so much. When
we’d each persistently cling to our own point of view, we would usually say some harsh words that would end up hurting one another’s feelings. I knew only Jesus’ healing love could break through the layers of animosity and misunderstandings.
Jesus began to work on my headstrong attitude. I began to appreciate she had given to me as I was growing up. I was thankful for my Catholic upbringing. As my heart and
attitude began to change toward my mother, I was thankful to have such a remarkable and kind-hearted mother. Even though we never argued much any more, we still were not close.
After my Dad died, Mom moved to our little town. This was an intensely, difficult transition for her. I spent time with her and tried to comfort her as much as I could. She was beginning to adjust to a new way of life without her husband of many years, in
a new apartment, and in a new town. I began to see that Mom had tremendous courage, faith and perseverance in adjusting to the changes in her life.
During this time we
started to become friends with only an occasional quarrel over the silliest things. Once in a while when we disagreed, we’d call a ‘time-out’ period. We would agree to disagree thus avoiding much needless bickering.
Mom and I were beginning to derive much joy from each other’s company and spend more and more time together. This was surely an answer to my prayers.
Mom wasn’t feeling well for quite a few months. She had a chronic cough that wouldn’t let up. I went with her to the medical clinic and after going through numerous tests the diagnosis wasn’t good. She
had lung cancer in both lungs. With treatment she could probably have about a year and half to live; without treatment maybe a few weeks. We embraced each other and sobbed in each other’s arms as the doctor shared this heartbreaking news with us.
After thinking it over, Mom bravely decided that she would rather take the treatments so that she could have some time left with her family. I prayed that I could be strong for her
during this most frightening and strenuous time.
The nearest cancer treatment facility was nearly two hours away by car. We were able to secure a place in the Gift of Life
Housing, which is for cancer patients and their families to stay while they receive daily treatments.
It was during this time together that all animosity and misunderstandings
melted away between mother and daughter. We became especially close. We prayed together, laughed together and cried together. Mom and I prayed the Rosary every day and she helped me to rekindle my devotion to the Blessed Mother.
With each trip to the doctor, we tried to make it like an exciting escapade by including some entertaining and delightful activities such attending baseball games, fishing, sightseeing, or finding a unique
place to eat. We tried to attend daily Mass whenever possible which gave each of us the strength to go on.
After Mom finished her cancer treatments, my husband and I asked
if she would like to move in with us. I fixed up the extra bedroom really bright and cheerful. She felt safe and secure in our home.
My husband was very understanding and
caring towards my mom throughout her battle with cancer. When my husband and I were first married, she did not like her son-in-law very much to put it mildly. Mom thought that he just wasn’t good enough for her daughter.
But over the years her heart began to soften towards him and she loved him just like a son. On one very special occasion, my husband knew without a doubt that the love mom had for him was real and heartfelt.
After Mom had adjusted to living in our home for a while, my husband encouraged me to get away by myself for a weekend, as I had been taking care of mom constantly since the illness began. After much persistence from my husband, I agreed reluctantly to go.
During the weekend, mom and my husband spent many hours talking. Mom shared with my husband that she didn’t like him very much and it wasn’t until the last
few years that she grew to love him and appreciate his kind and caring heart. They cried in each other’s arms and all unforgiveness and bitterness melted away to make room for love between a mother and a son.
As Mom’s illness progressed, she would have her good days and bad days. On her good days, Mom enjoyed playing her favorite card game-pinochle, with her friends. With the chemotherapy and radiation treatment taking its toll on her body, she lost all her hair. She cried and cried but after the tears she put on one of her cute hats and went to play pinochle. I admired
her courage and inner strength.
During the last six weeks of her life, she had to be in the hospital. I asked Jesus to give her peace and remove all pain from her.
As each day passed, I could see less fear on her face and more of the peace and love of Jesus. She had to be placed on very strong pain medication the last two weeks of her life.
Mom’s only request was that she be alert to be able to be with her family until the end. Jesus answered her request. She was alert as she drew her last breath with her family
gathered around her while I held her hand and observed the incredible peace on her face.
Yes, I do wish I had been granted more time here on earth with Mom. During the
last year and half of her life, we were given precious time to allow God to heal and transform our relationship into an intimate and loving friendship based on a deep respect.
I miss her more than I can say. But knowing that she is with Jesus forever gives me comfort and hope. In God’s Word in 1-Thessalonians 4:13-14, it says: “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those
who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him.”
The reason for my hope is that I will someday be in the presence of Jesus, Our Savior and Lord and be with my loved ones who sleep in Christ Jesus. Our Heavenly Father absolutely makes all things beautiful in His time.
(Reprint rights-The Family Digest Magazine 2004 May/June issue)