She was 102 when she died after surviving assisting living residence and two nursing homes for six and a half years. My mother was tough. In the assisted living, at one time or the other, there had been bad food, flies in dining room, roaches running wild, mice crawling all over, cricket swarms, inattentive care, lost hearing aids, heating and A/C units that often failed, and falls from which she lay on a hard floor for hours waiting on aides to find her. In the nursing homes, she survived many wounds to her legs from aides trying to transfer her to her wheelchair. She subsisted on food that only someone with a sturdy set of jaws and teeth could eat. She made it through being left unattended in her wheelchair for hours. She recovered time and again from the blistered bottom and the consequent urinary tract infections caused by being left soaked in her urine for hours. She made it through quarantine for a bowel virus caused by antibiotics.
But finally she could not overcome a broken ankle she incurred by being dropped on the floor. At her age the ankle would not heal. The broken bone began working its way out through the flesh and it became on open wound. She endured the pain and the pain medication. Sometimes we could smell the decay of her rotting flesh. Finally, mercifully, she died.
However, in spite of what seemed like worldly indifference, despite all she had had to endure, she never lost the ability or the will to smile. I think that was because she never lost faith or that sense of God's presence that touch of the Master's hand holding hers as she struggled in her seemingly endless storm. She may have often been left unattended but not forgotten or unloved by God.
I had been reading a scripture; I Peter 1:4, and thought of Mother with her beaten and aged body and found the verse, "to an inheritance, incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you." Yeah, that is Mother defiled, subject to corruption and decay, but yet possessing an inheritance in heaven. Through it all, and to the end, she lived like she knew that.
My eight year old granddaughter sat down beside me.
I had a dream last night," she said.
"You did? Tell me about it."
"It was about MawMaw. She was in the house here and she was all different. She was healed. She wasn't sick any more, and she was walking up the stairs to us and she said, 'I've been watching over you.'"
After witnessing first mother's example of enduring faith, I believe now more than ever that we are called out to take up our crosses and carry them well as she did: to live like we know we have reservations in heaven that are confirmed by the Blood of Jesus. Mother is watching over us; smiling. Jesus is too.