My mom passed away last week after suffering a massive stroke. We had 4 ½ days to come together as a family and say goodbye to my mom before she passed. Although it was hard, I am grateful for the time our family had to say goodbye and extremely thankful I have/had her as my mom. I say have, because she will always be with me and I will always see her in my brothers, her grandkids, and our family. I will see her through others eyes and stories. She will always be with me, watching over me.
My brothers and I (The Boys) gave mom a final farewell at her wake last Friday night. We all spoke of how we saw our mom and how she touched our lives. As I moved forward to speak, I explained to those gathered that I had an unfair advantage over the other boys, as my mom had given me direction and the 2 words I would use to frame my memory of her.
First the 2 words. Those words are “Amazing Grace”. My mom lived life with amazing grace in all that she did. She would always be well dressed and perfectly manicured. She would put June Cleaver to shame. In doing all of the basic mom stuff (that fulltime job that many of us take for granite) she always looked great, dressed great, and carried herself with, well, Amazing Grace. I always remember her singing at home, in musicals, at church, everywhere. In all circumstances she sang with great passion and power with the grace God had bestowed on her. Even doing a shopping ad for a food store named Big Star, she looked amazing and so graceful promoting her weekly savings. She lived life with Amazing Grace!
The word Amazing jumped out of the 2 words in a conversation with my nephew, Robert, about mom on the front porch of my parent’s house. He and his wife, Roberta, had just arrived I Charleston and we were enjoying the beautiful day and wonderful memories of mom. We both agreed that our family was Amazing and it was Amazing because of my mom, his grandmother. It was Amazing because she was Amazing in her great love for us and faith I us. She always believed in us even when we may not have believed in ourselves. She would have masses said for us and talk highly of things we had done and would do. It is belief and love like hers that can carry you through many tough situations, many tough days. She was Amazing in her belief in God and that God would see us through any situation. She gave us all a foundation in life that would allow us to become the best version of us. What more could we ask for? She was that rock, that Amazing rock that always stood strong for her and us. I will miss her dearly.
About now you are probably wondering how mom gave me the direction and 2 words to use. It may be hard to believe, but she gave me those 2 words after her stroke and before she passed away last Tuesday. I was in my mom’s hospital room with my dad watching over her and hoping she could hear us. I am now pretty sure she did hear me that day. As I leaned over to kiss her on the forehead I heard the slightest sound of Amazing Grace being played on the bagpipes. I turned to my dad and said can you here that? He said what he heard nothing. I said Amazing Grace on the bagpipes. I walked to the door of the room and no longer heard the faint sound. I attributed the sound to too many hours without sleep and the stress of the situation. I returned to my mom’s side and held her hand, the hand that held a baseball we had all signed for her. She loved baseball, the Braves, her nephew Sean that played baseball, and all things baseball. As I held her hand that gripped the baseball, I heard it again, Amazing Grace, the bagpipes. I was sure I heard it. My dad once again heard nothing. I quickly went to the door and hear NOTHING! I was now thinking mom was having a last laugh with me. As I returned to my mom’s side, I heard Amazing Grace on the bagpipes playing one more time. This time I walked to the door and still heard it. I looked down the long hall with all of the doors closed and heard it a little louder. I walked down the hall turned toward the elevator and saw my wife, Polly, Sitting on a bench playing Amazing Grace from a YouTube clip she had found on her phone. She wanted to Play it for mom! Now I know some of you will say it was all coincidence. Well, given the timing of how it all played out, I know my mom was giving me one last message, one last bit of direction, one last ‘I believe in you’.
Thanks MOM for all you have done for me and everyone. Thanks for the love, faith, and belief. Thanks for continuing to watch over us. I love you now and always!
Note to ME and YOU: One person can make an Amazing impact on this world with their great love and belief in God and belief in those around them. If you are not sure about that, let me introduce you to my MOM!
A grateful son, Michael