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Be thankful for your mother

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This column was written by newspaper adviser Lori Kreder as an example of a personal column to share with the newspaper staff. Newspaper editor Destiny Gerick and members of the staff asked for this story be posted on the Cadet Gazette online site.

It is by the invitation of the newspaper staff that this is posted on the student newspaper online publication.

 

The sound of my cellphone ringing woke me about 1 a.m. For some reason, my cellphone was across the room. I stumbled out of bed to answer it, but I missed the call.  I noticed on the caller ID that it was from my parents’ home number.

To avoid disturbing my husband, I stepped outside the bedroom as I tried to return the call. My hands were shaking as I knew early morning calls never brought good news. I finally dialed the number and I was surprised to hear the voice of my cousin who lived next door to my parents.

“Michael?” I asked as my mind was still in a fog of sleepiness and filling with anxiety.

“Lori, you need to talk to your dad,” is all he said.

I braced myself. Something was wrong.

“Baby,” Daddy said in a weak voice, “your mama’s gone.”

Surprisingly I did not break down. All I could think about was my father’s well being. “Are you, OK, Daddy? Is there anyone else there with you and Michael?”

Daddy assured me he was doing the best he could under the circumstances. The fire department and ambulance personnel were there.

“What happened?” I asked as I began to shake.

He told me Mama had a heart attack. The ambulance was about to take her body to the hospital so she could officially be declared dead on arrival.

I told him I would be there as quickly as I could and hung up. I lived more than 100 miles from the hospital. I wanted to see Mama before she would be taken to the funeral home.

I awoke my husband, but I struggled to say what happened.

“Gary, I,” I said as I tried to find my voice. “I, don’t know if I can say it.” I started to cry.

I finally croaked out what I needed to say.

“Daddy called. Mama died of a heart attack a little while ago. We need to get to the hospital as soon as we can.”

Gary got out of bed and gave me a long hug. Then he said a prayer as we continued our embrace. After the prayer, we wasted no time in getting dressed and packing our suitcases in less than 10 minutes.

I have no idea how long it took us to get to the hospital, but I am certain it took much less time than the normal two hours.

When we made it to the hospital, Mama was surrounded by relatives. We all cried. The funeral director was standing in the corner. He had been kind enough to wait for Gary and me.

After a sleepless night, the funeral arrangements had to be made.

Choosing flowers. Choosing a casket. Choosing songs. Choosing a time and date. Choosing pallbearers.

Writing an obituary.

It was surreal. My mama was 65. I was 37.

“We were supposed to have more years together than this, weren’t we?” I asked myself.

But God had a different plan. Looking back, it was for the best as Mama was growing ill and if she had not died of a heart attack, she was on her way to long-term illness. She was a smoker who developed COPD. Breathing was becoming more difficult for her. Mama experienced memory blackouts for reasons she did not want to know. Probably mini-strokes. She refused to let doctors investigate.

Still, her death was unexpected.

I loved her dearly, but I did not know how much I loved her until she was gone.

I miss her now more than I did when she died on Aug. 27, 2003. My sense of loss was deep at that time. Losing her left a hole in my life that has not shrunk.

The house where Daddy lives is not as pretty and welcoming as it was when she was alive. The flowers outside stopped growing and died. The decorations in the house grew old and dusty. I convinced Daddy they had to be thrown away.

I wish I had done a better job showing Mama how much I loved her. I took her for granted too often. We argued when I was a teen and young adult seeking independence. I thought some of her views were old fashioned or that she “just could not understand.”

Now, as I approach 50, I see how right she was about almost everything. I admire her strength and conviction. She was wise and I wish I would have accepted more of that wisdom before she died.

I think about all of the hurts, physical and mental, she helped to heal when I was a child. She helped me with broken hearts as a teen. She tried to guide me during the post-high school years.

Mama was always there for me. All I had to do was ask for help. All I had to do was listen.

Did I return her love the way she deserved? I don’t see how I could.

I was my parents’ only child. They adopted me when I was 2 months old. Mama picked my name years before I was born. She adored me from the day they brought me home on Oct. 15, 1966.

Growing up, I did not get into trouble. I was a good student. I committed my life to God at a young age. I made decisions to live my life according to a certain code. Mama was a big reason why I made those choices. Perhaps that is one way I showed my love to her.

Still, I wish I had done better. I know I hurt her feelings too many times. We had different personalities and interests. We had many more good times than bad. I just wish I could wipe away all of the bad that was my fault.

As I live my life, I am better able to see her wisdom. I sometimes I ask God to let her know (in heaven) how often I discover she was right.

I should not have dated a couple of guys. I should have joined a certain club. I should have been more “assertive” with a so-called friend. I should have taken more interest in people. I should have visited my grandfather in the hospital before he died. I should have sat with my mother at certain events even when my friends did not sit with their mothers. I should have had more patience and a better sense of humor when my mother told a funny story about me to my relatives. I should have shared more of my life with her instead of trying to solve things on my own. Looking back, I can see she was correct about all of those issues.

Too often I hear teens and adults complain about their mothers. Usually the sources of disagreements with mothers are about things that really don’t matter. One day, they will receive their version of the 1 a.m. phone call. Even if they disagree with their mothers about many things, they should still show their love to her anyway.

While some mothers have weak parenting skills or choose to abandon their families, most do the best job they can. Parenting is not easy; not even for the most responsible people.

My challenge to readers:

Cherish your mother. Try not to take her for granted.Be thankful for the time you have with her.  Listen to her wisdom as one day she will no longer be able to share her wisdom with you.

Then all you will have are the memories.

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The student news site of Connally High School
Be thankful for your mother