Shoes Off, Sitting on Holy Ground

The first time I said my last words to her was just off Exit 407, I-40 East near Gatlinburg/Sevierville. Her blood pressure was plummeting, and I had told my sister to call me if it looked like she was going fast. I parked between the Russell Stover Candy Outlet and the Subway, and my sister held the phone to her ear. She was not responding by then, but they always say hearing is the last thing to go.

I told her that I loved her and that she had been a wonderful daughter, wife, mother and “Meme.” “You did a great job, Mom,” I said. I read the note that Eyegal had given me to read to her. I told her to rest well and to say hello to Dad and all the others on the other side. I fully expected her to be gone by the time I arrived at the hospital in Roanoke.

But she wasn’t. I walked into her room, leaned over her bed and called out her name. I cannot say for sure, but I think she jumped and turned her head slightly in my direction, her facial muscles contracting in something resembling a smile. At least that’s the way I saw it, and nobody will ever be able to tell me otherwise.

I spoke my “last words” to her again and read the note one more time.

Throughout the evening, I enjoyed the company of my sister, brother-in-law, niece and many friends who stopped by to comfort and console and recall old times. After everyone was gone and things were settled for the night, I read the Ministration at the Time of Death from the Book of Common Prayer and said a few of my own to boot.

I slept beside her on the pull-out bed. As I awoke off and on throughout the night, I would turn my head and watch and listen for any changes in her breathing. She pumped away like a blacksmith’s bellows (she was a helluva fighter), but when the nurse checked her blood pressure around 3:00 AM, it was 40/18. I knew she wouldn’t last much longer.

It was the break in the regular “in and out” that must have awakened me about 5:00 AM. Her breathing became more labored, shallow and infrequent. I placed my hand on her head, called out her name and said “We love you, We love you!” over and over again and finally, “Journey well, sweet mother.” She opened her eyes slightly and moved her mouth a few times as if she was trying to take in one last draw of this good life, and then she was gone.

I spoke to her the litany of love on behalf of all who those who loved her and were loved in return. I blessed her as best I could, and now, my shoes off, I sit here on this holy ground waiting for them to come and take her away.

Christine Brown, beloved daughter, wife, mother and “Meme,” 1933-2009.

  1. JRB

    May God bless you all and welcome her with joy.

    What more can we hope, than to have our children shouting love over us as we shed this coil to go home?

  2. cg

    We, your cyber-family, hold you up in prayer before our Father. May He grant you peace, comfort, and strength.

  3. ME

    Peace to you and your family, brother. A good life is always rewarded.

  4. That Girl

    A lovely tribute. She must be so proud of you.

  5. Jeff Slater

    Wonderful words. May God give you comfort.

  6. Bryan Jackson

    Thank you for the graceful way you have shared this precious moment. God be with you and your family.

  7. Donna

    How wonderful that you were there to help her cross…and that you shared it in such a beautiful, touching way.

  8. Dr. J

    Our prayers are with you. You are a wonderful son.

  9. Hal

    What a beautiful story. I’m so thankful you got to be there and share such an intimate moment with your mother. I hope that her reunion with your father is equally as sweet.

  10. Stoogelover

    You brought back many memories of those last moments in my mother’s life. I was unable to get from deep down in Mexico, back to LA, and then fly to Nashville (w/ a layover in S. Carolina), rent a car and drive two and half hours to get to her before she died. You also brought a tear to my eyes this morning. Like others have expressed, I am so glad you were there to see her off on that mysterious journey and to let her know it was okay with the family for her to leave you all.

  11. Brady

    Be comforted, brother. You are in our prayers.

  12. doublevision

    Our prayers are with you.

  13. Laurie

    Oh, Mike. I’m so sorry. And also sorry for the late response — have forgotten to stop by this blog lately. But thoughts and prayers going out to you and yours.

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