Monday, November 09, 2009

Saying Good-bye

Took my eighty-two year old mom to say good bye to her best friend of fifty years. We were hoping they could sit in the porch swing with a cup of coffee like they used to, chatting and laughing, patting each others hands, and wrapping up any loose ends or words that needed to be said. But Miss Dorothy quickly and suddenly grew worse, and when we got there she was unresponsive, no longer able to sit, or speak, or stay awake for very long…or maybe even recognize those gathered around her.

My Mom is a remarkable woman. She believes that dying is just another chapter of living, and that it will be o.k., and it is good. So, she still gathered her best friend up in her heart and forged through their good bye single-handedly. Mom sat on the bed and kissed her forehead, told her she loved her so very much, asked her to squeeze her hand if she knew who she was. Miss Dorothy never took her eyes off of mom, and squeezed her hand.

Miss Dorothy’s family moved across the street from our family in 1959. She and Mom became fast friends, as we tend to do with those who we grow up through life with. They had coffee breaks twice a day – at 10 and 3. At ten, to give them some get up and go for the house cleaning chores lying before them, and at three, to shore them up for the afternoon ….before the school bus delivered us kids back home again. So sitting on the bed by her best friend, Mom told stories about those early marriage days, the kids shenanigans, and how in the world they survived it all! The day Miss Dorothy’s son slammed his finger in the door and severed it, and Mom picked it up, wrapped it in a paper towel and took him to the doctor to have it sewn back on because Miss Dorothy didn’t have a car. The day Miss Dorothy’s skinny little two –year old daughter climbed up on the kitchen table and ate 7 bananas, and by the time they discovered her, her little belly was pooching out so unimaginably bloated! The day Miss Dorothy’s oldest daughter, my brother, and I decided to dig a swimming pool in our backyard and my brother got hit in the head with the shovel and had to go get stitches. Mom chatted and laughed, and patted Miss Dorothy’s hand.

Mom and Miss Dorothy have been friends for fifty years, yet thirty-nine of those years, their friendship was long distance. Miss Dorothy still lives in the same little house, but my Dad got transferred to Dallas, then to Memphis, then retired to Paris. Yet they remained best friends.

Mom bent down and whispered in her friends ear, “ You are my forever friend. You know that, don’t you?” Then she said out loud, “Dorothy, can I pray for you?” Dorothy nodded her head- it was a very definite response. My Mom thanked the Lord for her friend, and their long and good friendship. She committed her to heaven, asked the Lord to walk her home. Then instead of saying goodbye, she said, “Wait for me at the eastern gate. I’ll be there soon. You’re just going to beat me home.”

She told Miss Dorothy that she didn’t want to wear her out, and she looked tired. Mom knew that hospice had just given her some pain medication that was making her sleepy. Mom told her that we’d go get a bite to eat, and come back to see her again before we had to leave town. So we did.

When we returned after about an hour-and-a half, Mom asked if Dorothy was asleep. Her daughter said that she hadn’t shut her eyes since we left. I believe that she fought through the medicine to be able to see Mom one last time. So we left them alone this time, to wrap up any loose ends and say whatever words were left to be said.

It wasn’t at all the way we hoped it would be. But when you have a best friend for fifty years, you do whatever you have to do to send her on her way in peace. Dying is afterall, just another part of living. And it will be o.k. And it is good.

1 Thessalonians 4:13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.


vergie said...

Mom and Dad made two special neighborhood friends in 1964 when we moved to Marshall. One couple now in Dallas, the other still in Marshall, and mom/dad in Weatherford. The two couples visited mom/dad in their nursing home this past weekend. They have many miles together with children, dominoes, vacations....I wondered if this would be their last time to visit. Thanks for the reminder of how precious long term friendships are. They help define who we have been and are becoming.

AM said...

Such a lovely testament of friendship. Thank you for sharing.

Ashley said...

This made me cry. Beautiful.

becky marshall said...

made me cry, too, Ash.