The worn hardwood floors vibrated angrily as the massive, electric oxygen tank jumped and jittered in the corner of the living room like a shuttle getting ready to launch into space. Rotations of friends and family armed with food and stories overflowed from one room to the next. The house where Mama and Daddy raised seven children seemed so small and was bursting at the seams with chaos. But Mama lay peacefully on the noisy hospital bed air mattress that Hospice delivered. She was home, exactly where she wanted to be – her launch pad to heaven.
We had been roomies for the past seven years. I moved back home just one year before Daddy died, and then it was just us girls. When she arrived home from the hospital that Friday night, I ached for it to be just us girls again. I wanted to tell her about my day at work and hear her sweet, excited voice recount the day’s episode of The View.
“Mama, are you scared?” Her eyelids were heavy. She couldn’t keep them open for long, and when she did, her eyes were unrecognizable. The once beautiful, deep brown had washed to gray. “A little bit, but God gave me a good life.” She grasped her pale pink rosary beads tightly.
After all the suffering she’d endured during her 75 years on earth, how could she think that God gave her a good life? “Mama, I wish I could have a faith as strong you.” “You do,” she said. “Be good to one another.”
We took turns staying awake to care for her as she prepared for her departure. I sat in the recliner in the corner of the dark room watching over her. I gave her periodic doses of morphine, wiped the thick mucus that collected on her tongue, shifted her from side to side, and in between I cried. I ached and shook and cried like I never had before. I knew that soon I would be an orphan.
Monday night. She waited until we all left the room, just for a moment. She was unconscious in mind but not in soul. She knew. Heaven gave her clearance for lift off, and softly she went.