Yesterday, out of the blue, a kind-eyed, blue-eyed stranger asked me, “Are you Mrs. Connick’s daughter?” RARE. It has been years since some asked me that. I immediately felt my angel’s wings squeeze me a little tighter…”YES??!!!” I walked right up to this guy-with-the-Greek-last-name-that-for-the-life-of-me-I-can’t-remember…He had dark skin and a salt & pepper handle-bar moustache. “I LOVED your mom. I took care of her when she came to Lourdes.” Hospital. My mom suffered from congestive heart failure, and various forms of cancer that stemmed from breast cancer. But this visit, I believe was her heart. The kind guy went on to tell me that there were no beds available and my mom was very patient (typical) and pleasant (typical). He told me that once she got her bed, he still checked on her and always enjoyed chatting with her. The thing that got me the most was that she died about 15 years ago, THIS month. I’ve already been thinking about her this month. I was always astounded how the month could be so full of new life, cool morning air, my son joining his first t-ball team…and my mom lay there, so sick and unable to do anything at all. We were with her constantly back then, and then her very best friend was kind enough to let our mom move into her home and also let me and my sisters stay there as much as possible. We would go into our mom’s room, which was always dim and cool, and there my mom would be, so tiny in that big bed, always anxious to hold hands & listen to me gab to her or among my two sisters. I know she is in Heaven. I saw her reach up to either her angel, Jesus Himself, or, knowing my mom, St. Joseph came down to pick her up himself because he was HER saint. She went to him with EVERYthing. I used to wonder why and then I realized…my dad died when I was 8 and with St. Joseph being the head of the Holy Family, my mom asked him to be the head of ours, too. Anyway. I was dating my now-husband back then. It was Festival time (Festival International, my very, very favorite festival we have here), and I hardly realized it because of the round-the-clock-watch with my mom. I wasn’t even running back then. One of my sisters and I were with our mom. We were talking quietly in the corner while our mom slept that Saturday morning. We noticed our sweet mom’s breath change & we turned to look at her. She reached straight up toward the ceiling as if she was taking someone’s hand. She was. Typical Catholic girls, we started praying the “Hail Mary”. A minute or two later, with each of us holding a hand & her eyes locked onto mine, her beautiful brown eyes that were so full of life for so long, dimmed. I knew she was gone. Just like that. It was amazing. It was beautiful. I was so grateful to be with her as she left us.
Later that night…this is kind of funny. Okay, it IS funny. I am sure I blogged about this before, but that’s okay. While my other sister and I sat on the floor, looking at some pictures of our mom and waiting for the third sister to pick us up for dinner, a bottle of Victoria’s Secret lotion began rocking back and forth on the shelf about 5 feet from us – we just stared, holding our breath. After about 15 seconds, the bottle stopped rocking; my sister and I looked at each other & said in unison, “Momma!” We laughed. Leave it to Libby to let us know she made it to Heaven by way of a Victoria’s Secret lotion bottle…which just happened to be her favorite. I used to massage her hands and hit her pressure points with that same kind of lotion :)
I know she just changed neighborhoods; she’s not really gone. Her best friend – one of them – died on Friday, I just found out…I knew immediately that Momma must have been waiting at the gate for Miss Margaret to come through!
Peace. And love somebody.