Monday, April 26, 2010

A Thank You Note

Thank you.

Thank you, to my father who loved my mother. Who set before his children an example of unconditional love and respect for a spouse. Who showed us how to love and respect a mother. Who allowed us a voice in her care when she had no voice left. Who showed us how to let go when letting go was the last thing we wanted to do and the hardest yet most loving thing we have ever had to do. Who always said he could fix anything but a broken heart but who will show us how to pick up the pieces of a broken heart and let God, time and the love around us mend those pieces together.

Thank you, Daddy.

Thank you to my husband who watched my face as intently as I watched my mother’s face. Who listened for the slightest change of breath that signaled my tears. Who made me eat when I forgot to eat and who pretended not to notice when I forgot to bathe or brush my hair. Who wiped away his tears, too. Who never flinched from walking this path with me. Who drove the miles between our house and hers many times to tend to things at home that I will never know needed tending. Who held me in strong arms, squeezed my hand, rubbed my neck and held my head. Who despite telling me over and over and over that he didn’t know what to do to help me helped me in ways I can’t express with mere words. Who made me feel loved and cherished while I cried in his arms at night.

Thank you, Tony.

Thank you to my children who carried on with minimal parenting from their mother. Who each stood up to a difficult and scary plate full of their own fear and grief. Who stayed alone or with a close friend. Who went to work and school and who loved me and their grandmother from afar and from her side. Who each face the first loss of a loved one with courage. Who took care of me and blessed me with their presence and encouraging words. Who held her hand and whispered words of love into her ear. Who prayed for her with the sweet words only a grandchild can utter.

Thank you, Jordie, Phillip and Morgan.

Thank you to my siblings who each took a vital and necessary role in the care of my mother. Who each used their God-given gifts, talent and strengths to take care of the mother who chose us and raised us up always, always doing the best she could. Who each brought another sister or brother to the family who took on the care of our mother. Who stuck together just like we always have. Who supported each other with that fierce protectiveness that we were known for during our childhood. Who put my mother’s well-being and wishes first and my father’s next without hesitation, without question-the end.

Thank you, Tom, Cassie, Genie, Linda and Marlin.

Thank you to my aunt who told my mother over and over how beautiful, how precious and how loved she was. Who struggled with overwhelming sadness at the inescapable and imminent loss of her best friend and sister. Who told others that she now had four more children to watch after. Who washed my father’s clothes and feed him dinner and sat vigil on the other side of the woman they both loved.

Thank you, Aunt Mary.

Thank you to my Milledgeville friend who stayed up all night with me because she asked him to. Who stayed up all night because he knew I would need his quiet strength and his hard won, heart won experience. Who told my mother she was beautiful. Who was gentle in spirit, word and touch while he cared for her and while he insisted she remain safely in her bed. Who earned his new nickname of Halleluiah because she loved him so. Who laughed with me and mourned with me all that long, long night.

Thank you, John.

Thank you to my Milledgeville friend who walked this path before me and in doing so was able to show me the way. Who recognized my need to know what might be ahead and who knew how hard it would be to climb some of those rocky hills. Who re-visited a place that was painful in order to help me find my way there.

Thank you, Lisa M.

Thank you to my Warner Robins friend who kept my youngest child. Who made sure she had appropriate clothes for a funeral. Who mothered her when I was absent. Who gave me the gift of time with my mother. Who fed my child, transported her, entertained her, made her laugh and most importantly comforted her. Who in taking care of her, took care of me.

Thank you. Lisa S.

Thank you to my posse, my peeps. Who each supported me, prayed for me and did my work for me. Who wept with me, ached with me, prayed with me and stood with me. Who let me leave my home, my family and my students without worry. Who kept things important to me running smoothly. Who checked on me, read my text messages late at night or during work hours. Who read my e-mails and let others know what was going on. Who lost sleep praying for me. Who loved me so much that I felt it miles away.

Thank you, Kathy, Rachel, Hayley, Kim, Dana, Cindy, Ruthann, and Jo.

Thank you to the two friends who even though having lost their own mothers ministered to me. Who prayed and will pray for us with first hand understanding of how losing your mother finally forces you to become a grown-up.

Thank you, Paula and Marsha.

Thank you to the third floor nurses at Oconee Regional who stepped over any ‘professional’ barriers that discourage opening your heart fully to a patient and the patient’s family. Who came quickly and with true concern every single time we called. Who not only took care of my mother but also took care of my father. Who held their hands and hugged them. Who never once made me feel like a nuisance. Who answered my questions with compassion. Who called while off shift to check on my mother and who prayed for us.

Thank you, Third floor Angels.

And finally. Thank you to my mother who joked through her pain that she loved me most of the time. Who I always knew, always loved me. Who taught me to love the misfits, the rejects and strays.

Who made my friends welcome and who showed me how to be a friend to the friendless.

Who taught me to reach way down and find the steel magnolia inside. Who taught me to be strong when life called for strength.

Who chose to be my mother and chose to love me. Who chose to be a mother in every sense of the word that really matters. Who grew me IN her heart not under it. Who gave me a family- a father and two brothers and a sister when I had none.

Thank you to my mother who showed us all how to fight hard, endure pain and finally fly to Jesus with dignity, courage and grace.

Who was a TRUE lady to the end of life on this earth.

Who I will miss until the day I die.
Thank you, Mama.

Just sayin'.

5 comments:

  1. So touching and beautiful Ann! Thank you for sharing your journey. You have such a gift. May God comfort you in the days and weeks ahead but rest in knowing your sweet Mama is sitting at the feet of Jesus!

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  2. I'm just saying, thank you to you! The strength you have is something I can not comprehend. I only hope to be half the daughter you are! I love you and Grandmother!!!

    Jordie

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  3. You poses qualities that most people strive for all their life. You truly care about people. It's obvious to those around you that you rely on the Lord for your strength. You tackle life and you don't let anything get you down. I admire that in you.
    You are a special person, Ann, and I'm glad you are my friend!
    kathy

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  4. I have been totally amazed at your strength. You are so STRONG. I only hope that in the next few weeks you will find rest and strength to get through another day. We will rely on the humor of those precious Kindergarten children and the comfort from our Mighty God, who my granny said, "IS ALWAYS IN CONTROL" Heaven is a little sweeter now. I love you, Ann! XOXO

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  5. Glenda Snow FreemanMay 2, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    Oh Ann,You have my Heart as does your family, Your words here are so precious. I know from experience what you feel, That Love you have had all of Her Life is still there, still as strong and warm enough for you to wear it like a blanket when life sometimes leaves us cold.. You still are so much a part of each other. She was so proud of you and Loved each of you more than any one else knows. Your Precious Parents touch my life too, as have you. I will always smile each time I think of you and Of them. I will continue to Pray, with every thought.

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