It is about 5 am in a quiet Florida city. I say quiet only because the house is quiet except for the pumping of the oxygen machine in the next room. My parents are still sleeping (as far as I can tell at this point) as well as my youngest daughter (34) who blessed me by coming on my part of this journey with me. Before I continue, let me tell you a bit about my parents.
My mom is a war bride. Not a term we hear much about these days, but she, at the young age of 17, married this good looking soldier who shortly headed out to Europe to protect his country in World War II. They have been married for 70 years and what a journey that has been for them. I just found out that my dad was part of Patton's army, and that brought much clarity to his stories of walking and walking and walking as an army infantry man. Over my many years of being their middle child (and the only daughter), I have heard bits and pieces of his adventures in Europe, but still do not know the whole story. My mom was from Maine, my dad from Chicago and they met in Connecticut and married very shortly after. According to mom it was love at first sight. I have seen my daddy's army pictures and he was indeed a handsome sight.
After their rather dramatic beginnings, their life was probably like many others. Some sorrows and disappointments and many happy experiences and joys. Fortunately for me, they found the Lord during their early years together and I was fortunate to grow up in an atmosphere, while not being overly spiritual, did provide a basis for my walk with the Lord.
So why am I telling you all this? Well my mom has just begun her last journey in life and I have been privileged to be able to start walking that with her. It is a Friday morning as I write this. Last Saturday I got a call from my dad telling me that mom was in the hospital. The initial call appeared to be she was suffering from an acute asthma attack, so I wasn't too concerned, except that when your parents are 92 (daddy) and 87 (mom) the realization that death is fast approaching grows bigger and bigger. Anyway, I digress... Sunday the news was not so encouraging, it was beginning to sound like a heart issue, physical heart that is. As of Monday morning the news was a very bad heart and a totally blocked valve and open heart surgery was probably coming fast. At this time my daughter and I decided a flight to Florida was in order.
Preparing quickly for that was quite a journey in itself. My daughter, who is my youngest, has 4 children (10, 7, 5, 3) who my husband and I provide "grammie" care for while their mom and dad work. My hubby doesn't fly so I knew without a doubt my part of the journey would have to be without him at my side. My daughter's husband was having his family reunion where his 92 year old grandfather would be attending (who as an aside was one the first soldiers to parachute into Normandy!), so the decision that the two of us would go alone was quickly made. Tickets for Tuesday morning were found, and places for the children to go while we were gone discovered, and we both began packing.
By the time we arrived the reality of this journey mom was beginning was revealed. Mom had end stage heart failure, surgery was not an option and prognosis was/is 2 or 3 months if we are lucky. After the initial first two days of disbelieve and/or ignoral the family has come to grip with this.
Since I began writing this blog I have had to respond to my dad's calling as mom was trying to get out of bed through the guard rail. Her really hard times are early morning and first awaking and then later in the afternoon. The heart just can't get enough oxygen to her body and mind to keep it all functioning. Last night actually was better as the night before she had gotten up to go to the bathroom and had a TIA. I had also gotten up to go to the bathroom (don't ya love the kidneys as you age) and was able to intervene. Scarey it was, as I thought we had lost her.
A few changes since last night in that absorbent undies and bed rail kept her in bed. And once she did try to get up we were able to sit and talk (about heaven!) for two hours and as I type she is now in the bathroom taking a shower. As much as my heart breaks on losing her it is so good to see her accept and being able to talk about the realities of heaven with her. Some of her fear has lessened and now it is just wondering when and how. My dad is worried; after all 70 years with someone is hard to give up, but they both know it will be a temporary separation as they will see each other again.
So the journey will continue for another day at least. While we always say we know how fast things can change, things can really change fast. One moment life is going along and all is well and the next journeys begin that we had better be ready to take. I am so thankful to the Lord that not only my parents, but most of my family is prepared to continue this journey through completion.
So as I watch my mom move further along the path to heaven I cannot help but consider that in future years, unless Jesus returns first, my children will help me walk this same journey. My job now is to make sure they are ready to take that walk.
I thank the Lord that I have been so blessing to have my parents for so many years, and that they prepared me for the journey. Mom said this morning that her mother and father will be so glad to see her. What a reunion that will be. The one person mom is looking forward to seeing more than them is Jesus -- and what a glorious reunion they will have.
Love you all