On June 10th, my mother was placed on crisis care with hospice after not wanting to wake up, eat, drink, or take her medicines. The only time she woke up completely, she asked me, “Are mom and pop still here?” and “Has John go back to the base?” My uncle John was in the navy and passed away four or five ago at the age of 88. My grandparents passed away when I was a child.
My mother went back to sleep and passed away two days later, soon after each one of her daughters and three of her granddaughters talked to her through the speaker on my cell phone, telling her how much they loved her and that it was okay to go to Heaven. After the phone calls, I played some soft gospel music, and I watched her take her final breaths during the song “I’ll Fly Away”. I cannot describe my feelings at that time.
The funeral was in Arkansas. My four older sisters and I reminisced about the past. Our relationship with our mother was a complicated one with many ups and downs, but in the end, she was still our mother. Despite our tumultuous history, I look forward to seeing her someday, healthy and whole, surrounded by her family who went on before her: my dad, my brother, her mom and pop who emigrated from Italy, and her six older brothers and sisters, including my Uncle Louis, missing in action in Korea whom she always mourned. A few weeks before her passing, she asked me what I thought Heaven would be like. I told her that she would see them all again and that they would all sit at a large table with a white table cloth laid out with all of their favorite Italian dishes like freshly made pasta with marinara, braciola, thick crust pizza, black olives, and for dessert, Italian Cream Cake. She looked out into the distance, grinned, and then said simply, “That sounds nice.”