The timeline for this story is important because it shows a grasp of reality that I wasn’t sure my mom still had a hold of. Two weeks ago her younger sister Betty died of cancer within days of diagnosis. Mom didn’t have the opportunity to say goodbye. I shared the news with her on a sunny Sunday morning, she handled it surprisingly well. Mom spoke with her older sister for a while which was intimate and touching. The following Monday we traveled to the beach to say goodbye to my dear aunt and celebrated her life in our own special way. We had a picnic lunch, picked up shells and I wrote our message in huge letters in the sand—Mom said Betty would get a kick watching me write with my foot!
We had a few rough days that week as she repeatedly forgot who had died and then remembered. There were several times I wished I hadn’t told her. But I had listened to my wise-self and trusted that mom’s wise-self would help her through her grief into healing. I also thought it may help her ease her own journey from life to death knowing her sister is waiting on the other side, or in heaven, or wherever we go when we return to God. She actually said to me that she didn’t know how much longer she had. She asked me that question another time. I shared that she’s not any different than I am, I don’t know how much longer I have here either—I only have right now so I make the best of each moment with as much gratitude and love as I can express.
On Thursday, she was signed up for another healing through the arts therapy program. She was having a tough day. I decided not to remind her about her painting activity and told the elder care staff to skip it if necessary. Later they told me she had had the best day ever! I have to remember the switch can flip both ways at any moment. My daughter picked her up that day, so I didn’t get to see her work. I asked mom a couple times about her painting. All she could share with me was that "it was good" and I left it at that.
I was able to encourage her to go to elder care on Monday, a day she usually stays home, so we could pick up her painting-which I still had not seen. I was delightfully surprised! My mom painted a bunch of yellow flowers with red centers, they look like they are blowing in the wind. It’s lovely! The activities director then gave me the painting and said, “We don’t know who it’s for but this is what she wanted to call it”. There it was, proof of her wise-self helping her heal. Written on masking tape in black sharpie: Flowers for Betty.