I thought that one can’t get more in touch with mortality than holding the hand of someone you love after their last breath and watching them die. But that isn’t true. Mom had her first brush with death over a decade ago and fought her way back through chemo and minus more than a few body parts. That experience left my Mother with the understanding that each day is a gift and she lived them that way.
I remember the week following her final chemotherapy treatment watching as the airport stewards wheeled out this pale thin ghost of a woman who was just thrilled to make it back to her beloved Oregon Coast. I had visited her while she was in the hospital and when she had given up on life during the painful chemo process. When I couldn’t be there, I had sent her flowers with a note telling her to get better and that we had plans. Neither of us had any idea what those plans were going to lead to but they turned out to be grand adventures. My Mom knew she was living on borrowed time and she didn’t treat a day as just another day – it was an “extra”and gratefullness and amazement at the world around her was her response.
The days surrounding my mother’s death haunt me sometimes and the months prior were incredibly difficult. Making those kinds of decisions over and over again left me a shell. Which is okay and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I decided a long time ago that she was going to be taken care of, know that I loved her, and know that I was there for her. And she was and she knew and the huge amount of stress and heartbreak that went along with that is just life. I am healing. It takes time. I am beginning to find myself remembering and honoring her most important lesson. Its not just another day in your life. Its the one day that is given to you. Did you notice your gift?
Some of the grand adventures listed below that I’ll expand into stories/written memories someday so I don’t forget them
- Riding a train through the orchid blossom in Hood River
- Steamboat dinner cruise down the Columbia at Sunset
- Touring hotsprings in Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming. Both of our favorite was skinny dipping in the late fall up in a canyon of the Cascade mountain range while watching the sunset over the river when these giant snowflakes began coming down.
- Going out into the raspberry fields of Suave Island on a gorgeous July afternoon. Mom ate more raspberries than she put in the basket and I paid the farmer extra since many raspberries were already in Mom’s tummy.
- Taking Mom to go see Bruce Springsteen in concert.
- Touring the Hawaiian Islands – snorkeling, whale watching, eating, hanging out on the beach, seeing the Napalli Coast
- River rafting and boating all over the place.
- Christmas and New Years in New Orleans before Katrina and being on the levies for the bonfires.
- Biking the Oregon coastal shore at low tides and watching birds.
- Camping in Yellowstone and betting on seeing a bear
- Going on Alaskan cruise.
- Going to Zion National Park and hiking through one last time and seeing a lot of creatures.
- Exploring Florida and hanging with the Manatees.
- Family gatherings for runs in Iowa, Nevada, and Tennessee
- Reading in bed.