DearPeggy.com

Excerpt from Chapter 5: Family


Special Memories — May 2006

Today, May 18, is a special date in my family. My mother's funeral was held on this date in 1988—and this day is also my daughter's birthday.

During the years, I've often reflected on the circumstances surrounding Mother's death. Her death was actually a blessing, because she had suffered a tortuous series of debilitating physical traumas as a Type 2 diabetic, combined with heart problems and stroke. She finally died with gangrene.

But at this point I want to focus on the aspects of that situation that demonstrated the love and caring between these three generations of women—my mother, my daughter, and me.

I'd spent the last three weeks of Mother's life sitting by her bedside, never leaving the room for a minute. Even though she didn't know I was there, I felt a deep need to be with her, especially at the end.

Since Mother lived in Mississippi (where I grew up) and I lived in California, I'd been away from my home during this three-week period. My husband had also been in Mississippi for the last week of this vigil, so our house had been closed up.

After the funeral, I flew home—alone. (My husband had to go directly to a consulting job in another city.) When I changed planes on the way home, I was intent on finding some kind of birthday gift for my daughter. Fortunately, I was able to find a very nice cookbook in the airport gift shop that I knew she'd like, and I got it for her.

When I arrived back home, she and my son-in-law met me at the airport and took me home. When I entered the house, I could hardly believe it. My daughter had opened all the windows to air out the place, had put flowers in many of the rooms, and had spent the morning baking a cake in my oven—so that the wonderful aroma filled the house. I was overcome with the kindness, thoughtfulness, and caring she demonstrated with this loving homecoming. (After all, it was her grandmother who had died, and she was sad as well.)

Fast-forward to about 15 years later. In my daughter's presence, I was telling the story of how I had come home to find all the wonderful things she'd done to ease my return. My daughter looked at me with a very surprised look, saying, "Mom, I don't remember any of that. What I remember about that day was how touched I was by the fact that in the midst of all you were going through, you made an effort to bring me a birthday gift."

So each of us only remembered the kindness from the other—which is one of the reasons that this day stands out as special in so many ways. Special dates can be a reminder of what's important in life—and help us make the most of every day we have with those we love.


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