Ever since my mother came home from the hospital my sister, Kay and I have kept a presence at her bedside attending to her needs and just being with her in her room. As this night is the traditional Maundy Thursday services where some tradition keep a 24 hour watch in the presence of the Elements; this is our ‘Watchful time’, a vigil if you will as we keep our own hours at our mother’s bedside. A lot of the times my sister will sit with us in mom’s room just talking and telling stories we know about mother when we were growing up. I have learned a great deal about my mother; stories that I might have heard but wasn’t interested in knowing and forgot or never knew. Stories about how my Mother was such a ‘fighter’ when it came to her children.
This is a picture of my mother and father when thy were much younger and dad was in his Army uniform, (dad had hair, by the way) but they are standing face to face with each having a pair of boxing gloves. She learned will the fighting lessons my farther taught her. My mother has always been a fighter, and she is still fighting her fight as she lays on her hospital bed. We are all amazed that she has been able to keep up her fight, as she only takes 8 to 12 oz of liquids a day; no other ‘solid’ foods.
My story about my mother fighting for me was when I was 7 or 8 and Catholic School and I was really a ‘left-handed’ child. The Nun that was my teacher that year was determined to make me into a ‘right-handed’ child and would whack my hand with a ruler if I picked up my pencil with the ‘wrong’ hand. I remember we had to use those huge round pencils and write all of our words and practice cursive strokes on the ‘Big Chief’ notebooks; you know the ones, those with the broad well space solid lines and a thiner dotted line dividing the space between? The tablet and the writing exercising where we had to draw our circles, and lines and the never ending ‘m’ and ‘n’s. Pages and pages of writing exercises written with a Nun in her black habit with a wooden ruler poised over your hands ready to strike if she thought you were not doing something right. Well, when I told mother what the Sister were doing to me in class, boy was she ever mad. She marched down to the school and my classroom to find this Nun and proceeded to give her ‘hell’ for what she was doing to her son; for demanding that I change my writing hand from ‘left’ to my ‘right’. Oh and that night my father was vocally upset that she talked in such a confronting, vocal manner. I have learned that I might have been the first of her many school confrontations, but I wasn’t the last time she had words with teachers and school official.
Sometimes I will sing to her as I sit at her bedside watching her shallow breaths and dream filled sleep. I learned that her favorite song was “Beautiful Dreamer” and I sing that one as well as several other songsI have added that I thing are songs that she would like to hear and remember. When I finish I always tell her that I love her; once she replied, “thank you, I love you”. It seems that she does respond and calms down after I have sung to her as I keep my vigil watch over her. And at the end of our vigil, I, at least, am a peace. We have had the many days to laugh and sing and tell stories at her bedside keeping our own private vigil with mother, and these will be the memories I shall be able to take with me in the days and months after she has left this world to be with her husband, our dad; who went so early in our lives.