What if I had one more day? One more day to spend with Mother? Twenty-four hours of time to share with her? A gift of seconds and minutes and hours on an invisible clock? Treasured days and months and years on papered calendars sprinkled with ‘tickled-pink’ pictures taken for granted….. Oh, give them all back to me! Please, for a ‘once in a lifetime,’ day.
As a very little girl my mother used to sew pretty dresses made of cotton and lace for me. A matching one for my favorite baby doll, you see. So pretty they were. All of her time she took for me.
As a child of five, I sprained my ankle v.e.r.y. bad. During the winter, Mother pulled me on a wooden sled. To the corner bus stop we would go. Leaving behind a track of runners in the snow. So hard it must have been. Thick, white wet, piled high to her waist. Huffing and puffing she hurried home, where a babe and a toddler waited by the door.
Every day in the late of noon, Mother planted her three sprouting ‘blooms’ in a back seat of blue velvet. It was a four door ‘56, Chevrolet. 45 minutes later, we would see Daddy leave his factory job. From inside the car, the outside air smelled so bad, mother rolled the windows up by hand. “QUICK,” she said, “Before you get sick!”
Soon we moved to bigger house. A baby sister was on the way! That same year I was cast in my first play. Mother sewed a white crepe gown, fitted me with ‘magic’ wings and attached a shiny silver halo wrapped with crushed silver foil. So perfect it was! Still, I don’t remember appreciating the time it took to do it all. Did I kiss her soft cheek? Hug her tight or say, “Thank you, Mom?”
Before long my youngest brother was born. Now there were seven of us in our ‘family tree.’ My mother was spread so thin. Still, she did the best she could. She worked outside the home and inside too. The year I started college, the littlest one began kindergarten. So many years between us all.
I don’t remember exactly when, but Mother was fairly young when she was diagnosed with Chronic Conditions. “Emphysema and Bronchitis,” her doctor said. They are slow and sneaky diseases. In the beginning they are quiet too. Later, they can’t be ignored. It was hard for Mother to catch her breath, to walk or even talk. She grew sicker and weaker year after year. Her conditions were “silent,” no more. Coughing and choking could be heard everywhere. It couldn’t be stopped. The sicknesses took her breath away.
So hard for me to touch these letters on my keyboard. One by one I tap them out. Much more time it’s taking me. There is that word again….time. My eyes are welling with tears until they spill over onto cheeks. How can they not? This is my mother that I’m writing about…I must stop to get a tissue, to wipe my eyes and blow my nose.
I inhale deeply. So very difficult it is to think back upon, to admit. In the end I prayed to God for Mother to breathe no more…..no more. I prayed for her to be in heaven, to be free with God. To have a new life with Him by her side, where she could breathe freely up above. No more sickness, no more struggles.
For my answer then, if I had one more day? One more day to spend with Mother? 24 hours to share with her?
I would tell her all and everything that she ever meant to me. I would not waste a single second. No more little ‘games’ to play. Life is fleeting. We live and die. I’d love her with all my might. Hug her tight. Kiss her warm cheek. Hold her hands. We’d have family time to cuddle great grandbabies that she’s never seen. I’d look at her, really look at her. Walk barefoot. Stare at blue skies. Smell flowers. Appreciate life. Laugh out loud together until it hurts. Share a cup of tea. Forgive. Breathe her scent in and out to remember it…forever.