My mom spent most of the last six months of her life living in my house before being taken to a hospice facility for three nights before she died in September 2011. I’m thankful for that time and that she was with me and my family during the final months of her life.
Taking care of her was tough though, and she and I argued periodically, as we always had. Sometimes we said things that hurt each other, and some things we just couldn’t agree on, particularly politics and religion.
The final such example came about 36 hours before we lost her, late at night with a steady downpour outside. I sat by her bed in the hospice facility. She had a curtain for privacy but essentially shared the room with five or six other patients. Two of them died that night.
I asked Mom about her relationship with God and preached a little, as best I could. She’d taken morpheein and slipped in and out of coherence. It was unclear how much she understood of what I was saying.
“You’re trying to trick me,” she said.
“Trick you into what?” I asked.
“Into saying I believe in God.”
But politics and God weren’t the only areas where we didn’t see eye-to-eye. I remember being in a Wal-Mart in 2010, a few months after my dad died and a few months before we learned that Mom’s cancer had come back. At the time, she still lived in her townhouse on Marlow Street.
The subject of my dad came up, and she called him an alcoholic.
“Don’t call him that again,” I said too loud into the phone. “If you call him that again I’m not going to talk to you anymore.
“My dad is dead, and we’re alive, and there’s no reason to say bad things about him.”
A lot of things my mom said made me mad, but I really couldn’t handle it when she spoke ill of my dad after he’d died.
I wouldn’t like it if anyone said anything bad about Mom now either, but fortunately that hasn’t happened, at least not that I recall.
It still happens with my dad occasionally though, and I still don’t like it. The most recent example came in a conversation with a Christian friend who I look up to and from whom I’ve learned a lot about God. We were talking about my life, and I compared something I do to the way my dad did it.
“It sounds like your dad set the bar pretty low,” my friend said. “And the question is are you going to try and live up to that bar or the higher bar that your Heavenly Father set?”
It didn’t bother me much at the time, but it began to as I walked away. It still does.