aging parents, saying good-bye
Hours after sending my final approval on the author proof for “Walking My Mother Home,” I was rushing to my father’s side in a hospital 150 miles away. A year before, I had hoped I could be by my mother’s side when she passed away, but it hadn’t happened that way. Now I prayed that my father would last until I arrived and sought the words to speak to him this last time.
His first words to me when I arrived at 2 a.m. were about the story and how good he thought it was. I was able to thank him for his help with the edits too. His breathing was very labored, but he wanted to talk.
Instead of my interviewing him more about his life, my father asked me more questions about the story. He wanted to know more about mom’s feeding tube and the end of life decisions we made for her. He already had a DNR (“Do Not Resuscitate”) on file and the doctors had suggested a feeding tube. He had turned it down. I told him how Mom’s feeding tube had given me a second chance to restore my relationship with her, but I understood his desire.
And then I made the final request that the Lord put on my heart during the 3-hour drive from my home in Seattle. “When you get to heaven,” I began, trying not to fumble over my words or become emotional. “Yah?” he queried. “I want you to tell mom I’m OK.” The Lord was urging me to connect with both of my parents in an amazing way.
“I hope to see her,” he replied. What relief to hear we were on the same page. It seemed he was ready and willing to go, so I ventured further. I asked him to tell her that I loved her. He went on to tell me that she had a tough life and was a good person and a good mother.
My father spent his last few hours on hospice care at my brother John’s house. Glen was flown in from Illinois and had one final conversation with Dad as well. My father passed away with family around him on July 9, 2012. The peacefulness of his passing was healing for the entire family.
The healing I received with the passing of my mother gave me the courage and strength to walk through this pain again. I can’t say it was easier, but it was familiar. God’s love surrounded and comforted me and my family during those final days and gave us strength to honor him and his legacy.
It’s been very gratifying to have no regrets or lingering questions about the relationships I had with my parents. I wasn’t particularly close with either of them, but in God’s mysterious way, I believe he allowed each of them to leave this world feeling my love for them. I think in some small way it allowed them to finish well. I know it made a difference for me.
Has the Lord given you healing in the passing of one or both of your parents? Are you holding on to wounds of the past? It’s not too late to step into healing. I encourage you to seek the spiritual or emotional guidance you need to free yourself from those burdens. We can do all things through Him who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13).
~ Ardis A. Nelson