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Tiny Iris01-01-01

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 prayers.

We love you Mom.




Phyllis Abbott Obituary
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