She was 94. Her health had been been declining for several years, and she was easily confused. The last time I was to see her, in August, she did not know me. That did not stop her from visiting, and joking. She tired easily.
Mom was born in 1920. She was the second of five kids, four girls, and a baby bother. Grandma was mad at her for not being a boy. She wanted a small family. Mom was a tomboy at a time when it was not in style. She began to drive at ten. She could crank grandpa's model T, and so she was allowed to drive it. When our home town got a motorized fire truck, she was the first to drive it. Being the daughter of the fire chief, and local car dealer has its perks.
I was on the phone with her about fifteen years ago, and my teen aged daughters were bickering about the younger prepping for her behind the wheel exam. She was adamant that she would get a perfect score. Mom, hearing the argument, chimed in that a perfect behind the wheel score meant no tickets or accidents. She had been driving for over seventy years at that point, and when I repeated to my daughters what she had just said, they immediately replied, "That's impossible".
I handed my daughter the pone, and said "ask her".
She was flaberghasted that grandma, who was a lead foot. like me, had never gotten a moving violation, or been in any accidents. Mom surrendered her drivers license around her 85th birthday.
Mom liked to travel, but she suffered from diverticulosis, and it made travel hard. Too much strange water would set it off, and several times she nearly bled to death.
Mom was a tiny gal. She claimed to be 5 feet, but I had to stoop to rest my chin on her head. More like 4-10, but she had a giant's heart.
Grandma lived to be 101. Mom swore she did not want to live that long. She smoked almost all her life. Maybe if she hadn't, she'd have surpassed her mother. The doctors said she had great lungs. Hers were better than many non smokers. Good genetics, but I didn't get them. I've had a chronic cough since I was a child, and thirty years ago was told it was the early stages of COPD.
Mom was always in good shape though. About a year before she moved in to a nursing home, one of her neighbors had a heart attack. Doctors advised her to rest with her feet elevated above her heart. Mom made a comment about that, then, seated in a straight back chair, swung her feet up over her head with no effort. She could turn cheer leaders green with envy, she was that limber.
I've often joked about my looks. I aint got any. That's part of why I kept a beard. The last time I was to see her, I asked if she recognized me, and after a bit, she said no. When I told her, she looked at me with one eye, and said, "well, you've certainly gotten better looking with age. Ugly tree? I found the forest.
Do I miss her? I've been missing her for six years. We used to talk two or three times a week, but as her mind went, she quit answering the phone. I only called her once after she went into the nursing home. She was so preoccupied with stuff around her that it was impossible to have a conversation. She hated the food there, but even at 94, the path to her heart was still candy coated. She loved jelly beans. That and straw berries were among her favorites. She got hives from the strawberries, but some how never got fat from the candy. I asked her once if all the itching was worth a bowl of fresh berries. She said yes, and sent me to the store for benadryl.
GOD blessed her in life. She got her three score and ten, and almost tacked another 25 on to it.
Mom loved the LORD. She had a little jingle she often said. I found a version of it on the internet, and I will leave you with that.
1 “What a Friend we have in Jesus,”
Sang a little child one day;
And a weary woman listened
To the darling’s happy lay;
All her life seemed dark and gloomy,
And her heart was sad with care,
Sweetly rang our baby’s treble,
“Take it to the Lord in prayer.”
2 “Are we weak and heavy laden,”
He will carry ev’ry woe,
And the one who sadly listened,
Needed that dear helper so;
Sin and grief are heavy burdens,
For a fainting soul to bear,
But the baby singing bade her
“Take it all to Him in prayer.”
3 “Jesus knows our ev’ry weakness,”
Weak and worn she turned to God,
Asking Christ to take her burden,
As He is the sinner’s Lord;
Jesus was the only refuge,
He could take her sin and care,
And He blessed the weary woman,
“When she came to Him in prayer.”
4 And the happy child still singing,
Little knew she had a part,
In God’s wondrous work in bringing,
Peace unto the troubled heart;
So may we who love the Saviour,
Say to those bowed down with care,
That the Saviour is their refuge,
They will find a solace there.