Monday, September 9, 2013

A Year Later

But God said to him, "You fool! This very night your life will be demanded
from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?"
Luke 12:20

Exactly a year ago, my mother fell down the basement stairs of their house after having a stroke. Because of her typical low tolerance to pain, I was glad that she lost consciousness because of that fall. An hour and a half later, she passed away surrounded by my father and all my siblings in Toronto. She lingered just long enough to receive the priest's last rites. As soon as the prayer was finished, she breathed her last.  

My mother loved flowers especially the red ones like this.
I had a half hour to process that she had fallen and was in a serious state before another call came through informing me that she was gone. Shocked at the tragic news, I went about the rest of that morning literally in a daze. I went to our two sons in the school to tell them that my mother died. I didn't want them to find out any other way than from me. Somehow in that unbelievable morning, I called Eng to share the news. The next time he talked to me, he told me that I had a flight to Toronto late that night. I went home to pack and was soon with my father, a mere day and a half after my mother passed away. We rallied together to deal with the wake, visitations, memorial, funeral, and, our collective loss. To read those stories, please look at: “The Departure Date, I Love My Husband, and Being Sustained” which are postings from September 10-24, 2012.

Soon after that, we lived life without her. Understandably, my father was distraught. My heart broke more when I saw his grief than over my mother's dying. I loved my mother but with her having Alzheimer's for over eight years, my grieving over losing her had started long before she physically left us. In the end, she mostly just sat: expressionless, joyless, in her own little world. The only way I could reach her then was when I played her favorite songs on the piano. Her foot tapped to the beat and on a good day, she nodded her head to the music, too. Otherwise, she only looked like my mother but she stopped being truly her so long ago.

As for us siblings, relational differences brought about by various reasons became exacerbated with the distribution of properties that my parents owned. It didn't take long before grievances from years past started to re-surface. Soon, some of us weren't talking to each other. The worst happened when a heated discussion between two of my siblings transpired right in front of my father. He was deeply saddened by the state of our relationships and wisely decided to meet with us.

He expressed his unhappiness over the broken relationships in the family and encouraged all of us to openly share our grievances. He implored on us not to give in to envy. He narrated the "Parable of the Rich Fool "to help us not to focus on what we can't take with us when we die. And finally, he declared that if it mattered to us that he was our father, he wanted us to choose to reconcile no matter how long it took each of us. He reminded us of how when we were kids, our mother would give us a choice of stopping our argument and making up, or getting spanked. We very quickly chose the former with a kiss and a hug. After all, no one wanted to be spanked then! That threat to a spanking disappeared long ago but the meeting ended with kisses and hugs all around. I unfortunately had to go to work and ended our Skype call. I missed the best part, seeing middle aged adults (our youngest sibling just turned 50) kissing and hugging one another. =)

My mother would have been proud. Even a year after her death, what she used to do with us worked to bring harmony back into our family. What a blessing to have her be a part of our lives. Thank you, Papa God, for allowing it. We praise you for her and for
our reconciliation.

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