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  • Writer's pictureLaurie Teixeria

Mom’s Gift to Us Seven: A Love Letter of Gratitude

Four months ago my mother was diagnosed with cancer, it had already metastasized throughout her body. She was 92 and has lived a long life, but knowing she was nearing the end of this life was difficult.

She was staying in a nursing home, since she was in need of full time care. During this time she was visited daily by our family. Thankfully, I come from a large family. Being the sixth of seven children, there are many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The extended family is also really large, so she had a lot of company. I think she enjoyed all the focus on her, maybe one of the first times in her life.

When she started sleeping most of the day, my brother (Neil), who has been the primary caregiver for our parents, felt it was time for her to come back home. All of her 7 children made arrangements to be there for her homecoming. When the ambulance carrying our mom was only a block away, my sister (Linda) told her she was almost home. Our mom woke up with a smile on her face.

That day we held a welcome home celebration for her. The house was full of family and friends, laughing, eating food, sharing stories and enjoying each other’s company. It reminded me of many times growing up with weekend and holiday gatherings that were full of family and friends. Such a sense of connection and community was felt by all of us.

During this celebration she was alert and we took great photos of her smiling and telling us she loved us. She even gave one of her grand-daughters a shoulder shimmy as she loved to dance. As the visitors were leaving, the house quieted. Just her children were left. My brother (Joe) asked if one of us could always hold her hand so she wouldn't feel alone, and we agreed. We decided to take shifts in the middle of the night, that way someone would be awake while others would try to get some rest.

That first night, my sister (Joan) sounded the alarm, let’s all gather mom is struggling and this could be it. My heart was racing because she just came home and I wasn’t ready for her to leave us, not yet. We gathered around her bedside, loving on her and waiting and waiting until morning came. Our mom made it through the night and we needed coffee.

The next day was a repeat of taking turns while holding her hand. When we sat around her this time, we began sharing stories of our childhood, which made us laugh and reminisce for hours. In the middle of the night we were called again to gather around her until morning came, I was less anxious, but didn’t feel it was her time yet and I was correct. She made it to another day, but she was sleeping even more and her words came out as a whisper.

Day three continued with us all talking more about our childhood. Learning things about each other and our individual relationships with our mother. It brought us closer. Understanding each other in ways we didn’t before. During the night we were summoned again by our sister (Linda). I lovingly said, if we are sitting here in the morning having coffee with mom, someone is getting slapped. Well, she was still with us.

Our sweet mom was taking turns between resting and sleeping. I am not sure if she could hear all of us, but I like to think she did, since a smile or other expression would appear on those lips every once in a while and it was perfect.

Things changed in an unexpected way on day 4, when my sister (Joan) had to go to the ER needing emergency back surgery. She was now unable to spend the time with us in person. Thank God for technology and video calls. Why did this happen now? I don’t know. I do know God has perfect timing. There was a reason we may not understand, maybe something was meant to happen so she could remember our mom’s final days differently.

In the middle of the night my brother (Joe) summoned us, I guess my sister didn’t want me to slap her (LOL). Again, our mom was not ready to leave this world quite yet.

One afternoon when I was holding her hand, I heard from spirit to take a photo of our hands and I did. I am a therapist and spiritually led by God, so when I hear spirit, I listen. This photo would go on a family tree collage that my great-niece and I made for mom's memorial. In the center was the photo of our hands with the saying “We held your hand until Jesus came and took it”.

For 10 days and 9 nights, we gathered in our family home, held her hand, ate together, shared stories, laughed, cried and hugged each other. Our mom passed around 1pm on October 31st 2022, Halloween. What a beautiful treat she gave us by bringing us together and having us together in the same space and time.

As for our sister Joan, there was another reason we may not understand, but she was discharged early and able to be with us before the funeral. Making a miraculous recovery, mysterious in many ways as her sudden medical departure.

Yes, there were tears, but so much more joy and peace than words can describe. I know our attitude and beliefs shape how we go through events. I went home wanting this life transition to teach me something, how to stay positive, to see the joy and love in all things, most of all to feel at peace. I was given all of that and so much more that I can’t put into words without becoming emotional. Crying tears of sorrow tempered with feelings of joy and gratefulness.

What occurred over these 10 days became my Eulogy at mom's memorial. Standing in front of everyone sharing the blessing she gave us over the 10 days. Our mother said she never wanted 7 children but I feel it was because she didn’t think she could manage all of us given her upbringing. She was not prepared.

I spoke about when our mom, at the age of 41, gave birth to my brother, Neil. For many years I was jealous of not being the youngest anymore, but as I matured, I came to see him as a human angel sent to be selfless, to show what unconditional love is and care for our parents until they both transitioned. I am incredibly proud and grateful for him.

What I feel is her fear of not being “enough or a good enough parent” became her biggest blessing. That was evident as we gathered around her for the 10 days in solidarity and love. To look around at her memorial and see her 7 children, the wonderful and amazing people they are, the 12 grand-children and 16 great-grands and what they each have brought into this world is a legacy to be so proud of, that will continue. Though two of her great-grandchildren left this world too early, Isaiah, born on her birthday and Avery, they brought so much joy to this world. I know they greeted her at the pearly gates and are dancing with joy. The eulogy and this blog are written as a love letter to her, to thank her for orchestrating that time together, listening to it all and not leaving this world until her mission for us was completed.

Thank you mom for what you have shown me, I will never forget it. I feel blessed that what I asked for in seeing the beauty, joy, love and connection was given to me and my family in so many ways. I love you and will miss you.

Until we meet again, for now I know you will be around us in spirit.

With Love, your daughter


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