What a wonderful date. Only once in a
hundred years can a person write "01-01-01". It's even more rare this
year, really, since it heralds the beginning of the millenium. By it's very nature
this date just seems to say "a time for New Beginnings.....New Joys".
It shouldn't be a time to die. But my
dear mother-in-law Phyllis' life is at an end.
She died on New Years Day of a brand new
Millenium, the year 2001.
The last few years of her earthly life were
deeply shadowed, both for her and for her family. She became a person so unlike
herself that we hardly recognized her. In the end she could not have called any of us by
name, although we were familiar faces among the people that helped to care for her needs
(and would sometimes draw forth one of her shining smiles in recognition). And we
did such an inadequate job of meeting her needs. Oh, she was clean and clothed and
food was urged upon her. By admitting her to structured care, she was kept
safe from the dangers and harms of the outside world. But we could offer
practically no lasting comfort for her as she sunk farther and farther into the ugly,
life-taking disease of Alzheimer's.
Holiday celebrations, lunch out with family
members, trips to doctors were equally physically draining and, sometimes, frightening
experiences for Phyllis. Being in the hustle-bustle of everyday activities was
fearful and confusing for her. So we took her away (from the perceived safety of the
enclosed unit) less and less frequently. It felt like failing, letting her down by
not being able to keep her interested and connected to her family.
Last night, in my bed (but too restless to
sleep), thoughts of our inability to be able to help her fight off this 'Life'-draining
disease, chased around in my head. And I realized a very important and fundamental
truth: For Phyllis 01-01-01 is also a wonderful date. A time of New Beginnings
and Infinite Joy. For she has gone home to her Lord. She no
longer spends her days in a fog of forgetfulness. No more will she cry out at
terrors the rest of her family could not see, let alone understand.
For nearly her whole life, Phyllis was a
capable and hard working woman. She cared for her family and tended her home.
She cooked and baked, sewed and gardened. She was generous with her time, assisting
friends and family members (and oft times total strangers) whenever she could. Her
body was strong and sure and reliable for most of her life....but during these last three
years, she became frail, unsure and, most times, helpless to help herself. Now, freed from
her earthly body, I can see her climbing hills on strong legs, the wind at her back and a
radiant smile lighting her face. Once again, really looking at and savoring all there
is to see around her. I see her being greeted by all her loved ones that went
before her including her father Gotleib and mother Elizabeth; her sister Frances and
brother Clifford and her husband, Bryce, father of their four children who love her and
will miss her so very much.
I know that she will bring special gifts
with her to Heaven. A friendly smile and the ability to make the person she is with
feel important and cared about. A willingness to pitch into any project, no matter
how difficult, and see it through to completion. If God wants some of the best bread
and caramel rolls ever made on earth, I'm sure Phyllis will be happy to whip Him up a
batch. And no matter how busy Mom is with all her duties in Heaven, I know she will
still find time to watch over her family and keep us constantly in her heart and in her
We love you Mom.