In the fall of 1992 I was excited to start a new school year – teaching high school computer and business classes…….until I was assigned to teach a yearbook class. Oooooh, how could I possibly do this – (1) 19 students – which 6 to 8 would be the best scenario (2) no clue as to how to even start designing a yearbook and (3) this would be the first year to design the yearbook on paper and then transfer to computer. You talk about whining, complaining, crying, a continual pity party for Deb……..
My parents lived about a mile from the school. Almost everyday I would run by in the afternoon to visit a few minutes. Well, honestly, I wanted to vent to someone and my dear Mother was there to take it. I would whine “If I can just make it to the end of December, most of the yearbook will be done.” Or poor me. Pity, pity, pity. She would encourage me and say “You can do it.” This was a daily ritual during the entire semester. I’d wish for the days to speed by……little did I know what lay in the near future.
My Mom had just turned 65 in August, about the time school started. My parents never had medical insurance because my Dad preached as an evangelist and before then he owned a clothing store and also a hardware store. Mom hadn’t been feeling well for about the last year but she never complained, never. I had mentioned going to the doctor but she wouldn’t go because they had no insurance and deep down, I’m sure she knew something wasn’t right. At 65 she was eligible for Medicare so she agreed to go after Christmas.
Christmas was always a big deal at my parents – my Mom had these beautiful dishes with little holly branches and berries. She cooked for days and the meal was always so delicious…..turkey, dressing, giblet gravy, homemade yeast rolls, salads, corn, beans, potatoes, macaroni, fruitcake, hickory nut cake (made from 8 cups of hickory nuts that Mom & Dad had cracked and picked out the tiny nuts by hand), pumpkin and pecan pies, etc. Gifts galore for the family were placed around the tree – Mom shopped all year and made Christmas so special for my brother and I plus our families.
Christmas 1992 was bittersweet – we all tried to enjoy the wonderful food but when Mom couldn’t stay at the table with us and had to lay on the couch, sadness filled my heart.
On January 2, she said she was ready to go to her local doctor. As I helped her get dressed, I noticed how thin she was. After a quick check, she was referred to a specialist for further tests. When I arrived at the house to take her to this appointment, she was packing a little overnight bag, “just in case” she said. Again reality began to set in.
The month of January began a time that will forever be etched in my mind. My Mom died of lymphoma cancer on January 29, 1993. The entire month was absorbed with her in and out of the hospital, pain, heart aches, facing the truth that she wasn’t going to be here long. Thinking back over the last few months, I was so ashamed that I had complained to her on a daily basis about “if I can just make it thru December” as if my troubles would be over. Instead I lost my very best friend, the one who gave herself for everyone else, worshiped me, encouraged me and always loved me through thick and thin.
The most precious lesson learned was to never wish one day of your life away. You never know what’s ahead. After this eye-opening experience, I began each new day of school by saying, “Students, enjoy each day of your life. Don’t say ‘I can’t wait until I’m 16’, I can’t wait till I’m a senior’……live life, learn something new each day, be kind to one another, laugh, love your family.”
Mom’s favorite verse was “This is the day the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalms 118:24) I would like to hear her say it again.