My mother joined Jesus six weeks ago. She spent a lot of time alone, but now she'll never be alone again.
I never realized how brave she was until last year. My father worked on the railroad, usually working the second shift, which kept him away until long after I'd gone to bed. When he was forced to retire due to a back injury, they should have had plenty of time to be together. However, my father had his own life, which included being around people and being the center of attention. Mom, on the other hand, preferred staying in her own home. She didn't mingle with strangers well for she had a fear of saying or doing something to embarass herself. So, while Dad found things to occupy his time, Mom sat in her recliner and created beautiful quilts by hand.
Dad purchased an RV to entice Mom out of the house. He loved to fish, and with the RV, he could do that while offering Mom a "house" in which to stay safe. They would travel to a nearby lake and camp with friends, but still Mom spent the majority of her time alone inside that RV.
When Dad passed away in 2005, I worried about Mom and offered to let her move to Ohio into our home. She, however, preferred to stay in Illinois, in the home she'd shared with my Dad for 52 years. I called her every night to talk and say goodnight. I knew she was lonely, and I kept offering her a home with us, but she wanted to be in her own home. To leave it, she felt, would be leaving my Dad.
Then, four years ago, the doctor told her she had a bad heart. Mom, then 81, said she didn't want to have an operation. She felt she'd lived a long life and, truly, I think she was ready to join Dad in heaven. She told me she'd come to live with us only when she became unable to care for herself.
That time came in 2009. She confessed that she didn't have enough money to stay in the home for another year, and the doctor told her she shouldn't be alone. Quickly, we began making preparations to remodel our home to accommodate her needs. In May, 2009, my mother did the bravest thing she could ever do--she walked away from her home for the last time.
Having give up her independence and move into someone else's home, depending on them for her basic needs, must have been such a frightening experience for her. I cried so many times because I couldn't imagine the pain she must be going through. However, she faced the change with a brave smile and no complaints.
We had the pleasure of her company for seven months before Jesus called her home. Our home now has an emptiness without her. My husband and I talk often about things she said or did, happy memories we all made together as we molded our lives together.
My mother was a quiet, independent, shy lady. I'd never thought of her as a brave person. But, now I realize how truly brave she was.
Carol Ann Erhardt
JOSHUA'S HOPE, available at White Rose Publishing