November 4th marked 2 years since my mom crossed over to the other life at 73 years old. She always told me, “I would like to live up to 70… anything beyond that is a bonus… and I would like to see my grandchildren grow up a little older. ” She experienced both and I am grateful that she held each of those beautiful grandchildren in her arms.
Mom’s life had interesting twists and turns but her faithfulness to God in all that she went through is etched in my mind. As she got older, her prayer time increased and a greater sense of peace settled over her. She spoke of accepting things – good or bad – and would make statements such as, “It is the will of God.”
I felt blessed by God to have been able to spend the last five days of her life with her. I was here in Ottawa, when my sister called to say that she had a heart attack and was at the hospital. The only thought that went through my mind was, “Please God, keep her alive until I get home.” God granted both of us that wish and I remain grateful that we both laughed until we cried to the end of her life. In the middle of a fit of laughter, she said, “I wish I could see your teeth now.” I can only imagine my much she missed seeing – she was blind for over 10 years.
Only those of us who are so far way from our parents can truly understand the guilt and pain of not being there with them as they age, get sick and need our support.
On the last day of her life, my sister and I were sitting with her in the hospital room and as I looked at her, I felt that her life was slipping away. My last words to her were, “Mom, rest now, you are tired. Just close your eyes and rest.” Five minutes later, she crossed over.
She got married at 15 to my dad who was 18, through an arranged marriage. She told her mother, “It is not my wish to be married, but if it is your desire, I will do so.” From what I was told, it was her desire to be a seamstress and remain single. Life had other plans for her and blessed her with a husband and 6 children – a life which was not always a bed of roses but one which she handled with grace and courage.
How much control do we have over those big life decisions?
Did her soul decide that she was going to be married to my dad and have those kids before she even arrived here?
Her husband and children were her life. Although uneducated, she believed strongly in education and made sure that all her children went to school and had the necessary supplies to succeed. She was a business woman, a farmer, a seamstress, a homemaker, she managed the family finance and even saved money when we seem to barely have any money! Mom did what she needed to do to survive and made sure that her family had some form of security. She was the mom who woke up at 4:30a.m to prepare breakfast and lunch – we woke up to the smell of cocoa tea and bakes or dahl. We came home to a hot cooked meal in the afternoon. For her, it was a pleasure being available for her family – she never complained. Even when I started to work as a teacher, I would come home in the afternoon to find my laundry all done, dinner all prepared.. and she would encourage me to go for a rest after my dinner. What a privilege that was!
She took care of her grandchildren lovingly. I will be always grateful to her for taking care of my first son, Ohri, for the first two years of his life while I completed my studies in Jamaica. To do this, as a grandmother, I am sure was a huge sacrifice for her but Ohri also received a huge blessing.
Amongst the many, many lessons I have learnt from watching my mom’s life, is not to take life for granted and to find time to do the things I do love to do. I think that her life was lived almost completely in a sacrificial way for her children and maybe this is what brought her joy. However, even though I love my mom very, very dearly, my rebellious nature in pursuing my own passions in life, started because I had the perception that her life was sacrificed for family and I did not want to do the same with mine. Choosing a professional path, pursuing my passion in travel and writing and community activities, gives me energy to perform my role better as a mother. Altogether, I feel much more fulfilled having a balance between the two.
I was about 18 years old when I asked mom to go on a trip with me so that she could have a travelling experience. Her response was, “Child, save your money.”
A few years later, she became blind and I moved to Canada just after that. One day I asked her to come over to spend some time with me. Her response was, “Where can I go now? I am blind.”
These two statements constantly flood my mind, especially when I am about to make an important decision. How much weight do I attach to the money vs the experience? Can I have less money and a fuller life experience? I don’t want to look back and regret not doing something I passionately wanted to do and then regret it later even more due to the onset of a major life illness or a sudden change in life. My mom never imagined that she would have become blind. How would we know?
We do the best we can. We do better, when we know better.
This moment is all that we have. TuneIn to the opportunities in front of you. StepUp and make conscious choices which will make your life fuller and happier. Perhaps we don’t have to be in sacrificial mode all the time – lighten up and enjoy the opportunities which life is presenting to you. Do your best to make yours a happy journey.