My mom became sick with pneumonia, spent 26 days in the hospital, back and forth in and out of the ICU, and passed away on the morning of the 27th day. But I had the joy, honor, and privilege of spending days 1 through 26 with her.
My mom was one of the most loving people that I know; full of compassion and mercy. I can picture that sweet look on her face when she was worried about someone. She kept a long list of people and situations that she prayed for. When Mom and I would talk each night, she usually asked about my friends, co-workers, or students that were going through difficult times. She had a true concern for others, and when the update I shared was good news, there was such a relief in her voice and spirit. I am not here to tell you that my mom was perfect, though.
Mom had deep losses that she never quite recovered from: especially losing her sister and her mother (they were her best friends). There was a loneliness and emptiness in her that could not be filled. She had other bitterness and regret that built up over her life as well. Mom bravely fought stage 4 colon cancer for over 6 years. The last couple of years were harder on her physically, which understandably, took a toll on her emotionally and mentally and sometimes caused a critical spirit.
But my mom BLEW ME AWAY with her grace for 26 days. She was in A LOT of pain for laying so long; sores on her bottom, rash on her back. Even the nurses said they had not seen much worse than Mom. She told us, her family, when she was in pain and communicated what she needed. And we loved being her primary caregivers at the hospital, whether it was rubbing her feet, scratching her back, helping her change positions in bed, or just holding her hand.
But I watched her facial expressions and her interaction with the nurses and doctors. EVERY SINGLE TIME she had that sweet look of appreciation on her face and she always expressed her thankfulness for their care of her. It really took me by surprise and started to overwhelm me. If I had been in her place, after years of fighting cancer, now in almost constant pain in the hospital (for what must have felt like days with no end in sight), I don’t think I would have been the gracious, grateful patient that Mom was. Of course, because of her sweet disposition, all the staff loved her. I was so proud of my mom, and so proud to be called her daughter.
What an example she was to me in her last days! To treat others with such kindness, when she was in the midst of her own suffering, is just another testimony of who my mom was. I hope on my toughest days, filled with frustration, tension, conflict, and pain, that I will extend grace to others, just like my mom did.
“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:10 NLT