Mama continues to be on my mind an awfully lot and I keep thinking of her legacy. My mom was not a perfect person, but she did so many things right. It's so gracious of God to bring those things to the forefront of our minds after someone dear passes. The same thing happened with my dad. Good thoughts are so easily recalled and bad thoughts tend to stay in the background. It's an interesting phenomenon.
Several months ago, before Mama went into the nursing home, I spent a lot of time with her. I'm not going to pretend it was easy; it was very hard, and I was often in tears of frustration and fatigue. But bed time was always sweet. She would ask me to sleep with her and then we would pray. We prayed and we prayed and we prayed. Since Mama would forget she had prayed, she'd always start again after I prayed and then prompt me to pray again because she'd forgotten I prayed.
A fascinating thing about our prayer time was her lucidity. Her words were never twisted. Never. She would sometimes apologetically say, "Lord, I don't know how to say it, but you know what I mean." But she had said whatever it was perfectly fine. She had a regular refrain in her prayers that made an impact on me. She prayed consistently that all of her descendants, "until the end of time," would be saved, and that "not one hair would be lost."
I pray for my offspring daily, but until prayer time with Mama, I never thought to pray for the offspring far removed from me. I pray for my children and grandchildren, but never had I considered praying that my descendants "until the end of time" would be saved. Well, I do now.
Mama's prayers were the only time she made good sense. I always marveled at that. Then one day, unlike her regular words that "not one hair would be lost," she asked that "not one hoof would be lost." It was the first time she'd used a wrong word in prayer time. Weeks later, I was reading about Moses and the great exodus and read these words: not one hoof was lost. Even her wrong word wasn't really wrong if you considered she was praying Scripture.
When Mama went into the hospital, I spent the remainder of my time there cleaning her house and going through her stuff. When I came across all her saved items from Debbie, my sister that died at 14 months, it was clear to me that they needed to be buried with her. She'd saved it for 63 years, it could hardly be thrown away. I put it in a box and, eventually, it was buried with her.
Shortly afterward, Mama moved into Edgewood Nursing Home. Near my time to come back to Canada, Gordon flew down so we could drive back together. We went to see Mama one last time at the nursing home. When I told her we were headed back to Canada, she prayed for us. I do not recall what she prayed, but it was bang on and powerful. It was a commissioning-style prayer, if that makes any sense. I was quite convinced, through her prayer, that it was our final goodbye. Thankfully, I was wrong.
A few months later, I was back in Arkansas, and God so graciously allowed me to be with her as she drew her last breaths. Diane and Mama's twin, Jill, were there too, and each of us had a daughter with us. Jill had Peggy, Diane had Misty, and I had Stephanie. I'll ever be thankful that we were there. She wasn't alone. As she departed this life, we were able to tell her that she had lived a good life: her children loved her; her children loved God; she taught us to pray and read our Bible; many of her grandchildren were walking with the Lord; she was home surrounded by family. "You were in the hospital, but now you are home and we are all with you now." I remember saying, "Mama, tell Debbie we love her." I don't really know why that came out, perhaps because in my heart Mama and Debbie can't be separated. And it's true, I do love Debbie, even though I never knew her. I don't know how that love came to be, but I love her and I always have.