|Rose Catherine Wood|
My brother Bob and I are now orphans, though that is not the source of my lugubriousness, as we are still fairly healthy in our advancing years. I am saddened by the distance between us all, my once close family and me, for there are roughly 2300 miles that separate us from one another.
I would wager that as families go, ours was the most idyllic I could imagine. We lived on Long Island, and my brother and I were raised in a small town on the eastern portion -- away from the big city, and therefore insulated from its influences -- in the early 1950's and early 1960's. We were far from rich, living a simple life not far removed from a typical Walton's episode. While my mother never worked after marriage -- and while my father fretted over the finances -- my brother and I thought we were rich anyway.
My father always had a boat when we were kids, and my mother loved that thing. In the summer time, every Friday my mother would shop for groceries, both for the home and for the boat. Friday afternoons, my father would return from work, collect my mother and us, and we would head to the marina and sail to Fire Island for the weekend. Other than my own marriage -- and the births of my three children -- those were the best days of my life. As I mentioned earlier; idyllic.
My father finished our basement when Bob and I were kids, which was big in our neighborhood. It was a time when kids were still safe outside, even at night, and parents liked to party in one home or another. My father played the piano and organ, and my brother and I played drums. My mother sang, and she had a beautiful voice. (And she loved Connie Francis).
Her whole family sang, and they were prone to break into spontaneous --albeit inebriated -- song at the near conclusion of most family barbecues, and while we as kids rolled our eyes at them, it is today a source of great memories.
Mom could be tough, though, make no mistake. When we boys were young, she would make sure we were on our best behavior, and those lessons remain with us today. But as we moved into our late teens and early adulthood, and beyond, she became more friend than mother, perhaps recognizing that her real work was done and it was time to relax a bit.
She did teach us one very important lesson though, perhaps inadvertently, or perhaps clandestinely, and that was what a family means. It is ingrained in us now -- my brother and me -- and the lesson we received is not learned like a subject for a high school exam, but is rather absorbed, and it stays with you forever. When we were all alive, we would have died for each other. Today, we orphans -- for lack of a better term -- still hold that lesson.
Thankfully, my brother was in a position to move our mother to Texas to be with him, and he gave a lot to make her transition to the ethereal world as comfortable as it could be. For that I will always be grateful. God gives us incredible strenghth seemingly just when we need it most. I will also be eternally grateful for His grace.
Some people get angry and lash out at God when He takes a loved one. I have long ago learned that His will is a blessing, no matter how painful it seems to our personal wish to cling to those we love. I have learned that life is a gift, love is more powerful than anything, and God's gift still has an expiration date. Some live long and pass almost unnoticed, while others live briefly, which is the most painful experience, and one that elicits the most rage towards God. Forgive Him, for He will ultimately forgive us all.
I spoke with my mother in her days leading up to the end thanks to the technology of Skype -- and to my brother's calling me to chat with Mom -- and while I am sad today to be without her, I am grateful for His mercy in sparing her from further humiliation due to her advancing dementia. And I am grateful that He has restored the balance of our family. My mother is back home with my father, and my brother and I still stalk the realm of Earth.
It's kind of funny how we cling to life, which is increasingly painful to endure in today's world, yet embrace God's embrace at the end. Perhaps He intended it that way.
God speed Mom. We will always love you and all you did for us, but we are glad that you are with Dad again, and in the arms of the Lord. I love you.