Christmas was especially difficult this year. I am in mourning again as I mourn the loss of my dearest and oldest friend. She passed this last year. I’ve known this lady for 45 years. I met her shortly after I met my husband. He adored her and I learned to love her as well. Her name is Janette and she is my husband’s mother. There is a bond between us that cannot be described with words. I’ve tried, and there are none that can describe the bond we had. It’s funny; we had nothing in common really, except that she and I loved the same man, her son…my husband.
She taught me so much. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to get a telegram from the U.S. government stating your son is wounded, possibly near death, describing his injuries, with him being thousands of miles away on the other side of the world and her being at the mercy of the government to keep her informed. I can’t imagine.
I remember one day after we were married, Gene and I had some sort of stupid argument. His heart was so broken and wounded from all that he had experienced in Viet Nam that he had encapsulated his heart in a bubble unconsciously vowing that no one would ever hurt him again. Thus, I was not in his inner circle. Mom knew this. One day we were standing outside in her driveway and she said, “Carol, just want you to know, Tunny (his family nickname) loves you, he just doesn’t want you to know that!” What? That seemed so foreign to me, but as years went on, I understood. He just couldn’t open his heart again and be vulnerable for fear of being hurt...again. Losing hurts too badly. She realized that and she encouraged me that he really did care about me, he was just unable to let me inside his bubble. It took a while but he did open his heart and we forged a love that was strong even though Satan attempted to destroy our love and us…by the grace of God, we overcame. Thank you Jesus.
I remember the day I started calling her mom. I didn’t ask her if I could…perhaps I should have. It felt a little awkward at first, but she didn’t hesitate to respond, and she was “Mom” from that day forward.
But this day we laid her to rest, March 13, 2015. I was fortunate to have several women in my life besides my own mother. I was very close to my paternal grandmother, Mother, we called her. She babysat for us while my parents worked, and they worked a lot. She never showed favorites, but we did have that kind of relationship. I shared a bedroom with her after she moved in with us. Those were special times. When I would spend the night with her as a child we lay in bed as long as I could stay awake and she would tell me Bible stories. So we had lots of talks in the dark after the lights were out. She made an unbelievable impression on my heart. She contracted shingles in her eyes and couldn’t read her Bible any longer. She wanted us girls to read to her. I did for a long time, and then I got busy with other things that would distract a 15 year old. Then when she passed, I really felt guilty for not taking the time to be with her. I remember the heavy guilt I experienced as I longed for her and as I got older, I remember saying, “Wow! I wish I could have just one more conversation with her.
I also was fortunate enough to have a close relationship with my maternal grandmother as well. I called her Ma-Maw. We lived with her for awhile, but before that, I spent the summer of my 12th year with her. I had a two year old sister and since my mother worked, I was going to be responsible for her for the entire summer. My maternal grandmother didn’t want me to have that responsibility, so she had my parents bring me and my two year old sister down to spend the summer with her. It was that summer that God spoke to me and impressed on my heart to be a counselor.
Then there was Gene’s mom. I like to think I learned from my mistake with my paternal grandmother. So, after Gene passed, I made a point to take care of Mom the way I think he would have wanted me to. But most importantly, I made time to go see her frequently. I would drive down on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and spend two or three hours just sitting with her and talking. We could talk for hours about any and everything: life, politics, bible, Jesus, God, and whatever else was going on in our world. We didn’t always see eye to eye on everything, but we respected one another in our difference of opinions.
So, I find myself missing her terribly. I hear myself saying….”I wish I had just one more conversation with her.” The difference is this time it is said without regret…only a longing to spend one more long, lazy afternoon with her sharing life together; that woman I bonded with, probably stronger than my own mother, the bond that was forged by loving the same man.
What else do I have to say? Time is short and this may be the only day you will have to tell your loved ones that you love them and spend a few minutes with them. Take the opportunity. Grief will scream at you when you lose that special one, but it will scream much louder if there is guilt associated with it. Make the most of your moments. Forget those petty disagreements that really don’t amount to anything and it isn’t worth the separation of a broken relationship. Love one another and take the time to say it…frequently. Do those things that convey that love. That’s what Jesus gave his life for. That’s why his blood was shed…to cover the pain and hurt of a broken relationship. He is in the restoration business. Be intentional and seize the moment…when it is gone, it can never be recaptured.
God bless you as you choose life.