Margaret Saysell January 6th, 1932 – June 18th, 2012
I am sure you have noticed that I did not make any post’s last week. It was one of the hardest weeks I have ever had to experience in my life. A week ago Sunday was of course Fathers day. My parents are both in their 80’s. I live a few hours away from my parents and so I called my dad and spoke with him on the phone. As always, when I would call my parents they would put me on speaker phone. Thus, the conversation would become a three-way discussion between myself, my dad and my mom. The TV would always be blaring in the background. I spoke with them like I have a thousand times before. I listened to them, they listened to me (we all listened to the tv in the background). The conversation came to a close, we said our good byes and I hung up the phone. Little did I realize at that time, that this would be the last time I would ever have the opportunity to speak with or hear the voice of one of my parents again.
Monday morning started like any other start to a week. I got up , had some breakfast, headed for the shower but then the twist, the phone rang. It was my sister. She was upset and called to tell me that I needed to get to the hospital because mom had collapsed and dad had called 911. I hung up the phone and felt a little stunned. I called Vanda and let her know what was going on. Five minutes later, maybe ten actually, the phone rang again. It was my dad. My dad is in his 81st year and in pretty good shape for someone in their 81st year. In all my 47 years, I don’t think I ever saw or heard my dad cry. His voice was trembling. He said to me “Steve, you need to come to our house, I think this is it.” Through tears, he said “they are working on mom, but I don’t think she is coming back. Stephen she is gone”….. I’ll never forget those words…
With those words my father spoke, my heart broke and I went into some weird state I had never experienced before. I turned and headed into the shower. I was numb. I felt helpless. I called Vanda to come home, we had to leave. We headed to my parents house and arrived about 2.5 hrs later. It was a weird drive too. It was calm but there was a clear sense of anxiousness that seemed surrounded by peacefulness. I knew what was waiting for me when I got there. I just never really realized how my week was about to unravel and just how my world was about to stop!
My dad met me at the door. My mom was in their bedroom. They had worked on her for over 45 minutes but she never came back, she was on her way to live with her lord. I stood beside her. My dad sat on the bed. I kneeled down and held her hand, I softly brushed her hair with my hand and kissed her on the cheek, then her forehead. Tears strolling down my cheeks. Mom looked so peaceful, so restful. Mom had been sick the last few months. She was having respiratory issues and had some issues with her heart. She used a walker to get around and had recently been put on oxygen. In April, mom spent 5 weeks in hospital after contracting a cold her 80-year-old body couldn’t shake, She ended up with water on her lungs. Mom had had enough so she went on her way. I thank god I live in a country that supports and believes in a universal health care system. After 5 weeks in the hospital, all the treatments and now oxygen, mom and dad never paid a dime. We may have a slightly higher tax system in this country but it so worth it when the need arises.
As I sat beside my mom on the floor waiting for the funeral home to come and take her, I spoke with my dad about the events of the morning. He said that she woke up, just like she does every morning. My dad and mom went to their kitchen where he made her some breakfast and they sat and talked about the day they had planned. Mom got up and headed to their bedroom where she was to get ready for the day. My dad followed her to their room. She sat on the bed, never said a word, looked at my father, then leaned to her side. That was it she was gone. Our week of sorrow had begun.
Over the next few days my family gathered. We laughed, we cried and we strolled down memory lane. The visitation at the funeral home was nice. Many of our friends both old and new stopped by. My father was very comforted by the showing. I did well. It doesn’t matter how old you are, a parent is still your parent. I was blessed to have my mom into her 80th year. The day of the funeral was the hardest for me. It seemed so final. I had decided that I would say a few words about mom. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. I would like to share with you some of what I said. I am sure she would’ve been pleased. I know for me, saying some words helped me through the day. I am glad I did.
I started by thanking those who took the time out of their day to come and join us, as we celebrated my mom’s life. I then spoke the following:
“If you would bear with me for a few minutes, I would like to talk with my mom. Feel free to listen in. Mom… You did a great job! The essence of who children are and who they become is often shaped by a mother. Mom, this is so true when it comes to you. Watching you as we grew up, learning your values, seeing your convictions. All of this had a significant impact in our lives. In my life. You always taught me to stand strong to what I believed in and to say what I felt needed to be said. You taught me to always look out for those that are less fortunate than I may be and always lend a helping hand when someone was in need. Your values became a part of me and helped to shape my success in the career I have now…. You allowed me the freedom to learn, to make mistakes and find my way. You didn’t always agree but you never criticized. You just sat back and waited to help clean up whatever mess I managed to get myself into. Today, I don’t have to say good-bye mom… I have come to realize you were always within me and will continue to be.
Of course, you weren’t always the ‘friendly’ mom. After all, part of your role was to offer corrective action, teach us discipline, learn some hard lessons and understand right from wrong. Like the afternoon for example, when I decided I didn’t need to go to school. That I would skip off. I think maybe it was like Grade 3. I knew I had to be home around 3:30 pm. So I snuck up to our kitchen window, I peered in to the see the clock on the wall and there you were staring right back out that window. Busted! I sure learnt something about discipline that day… You took my hand, marched me back to school, had me apologize to my teachers and my principal and then made me stay at school for every hour I had missed.
There was also that time I was playing road hockey out front of the house. You clearly stated to my friend and I that whatever we did, stay away from your prized rose bushes. You loved those bushes. As it would be on this day however, I would have the best slap shot to ever be seen in our neighborhood. I shot that puck and it sailed across the lawn right at those roses. Like a razor blade it sheered the roses off one by one. My friend I stood there stunned. We needed to act and we needed to act quickly. So we did. Into the house we went and found some scotch tape… yes that would do it. Out we went and then we taped each of the roses right back where they were supposed to be. Eventually you figured it out. Although you applauded me for my creative problem solving skills you were not pleased.
Mom, you also loved sports. I have some fond memories of Saturday nights in front of the TV, watching Hockey Night in Canada as we listened to you yelling at your beloved Toronto Maple Leafs or the referees. I am so sure you were convinced they could hear you through that square box. I loved the stories that you and dad would tell about how energetic you were when you attended a Leaf game when we had season tickets in the Reds. More often than not, those sitting around you would have your popcorn in their hair or on their lap because in your excitement you would throw it all over the place. I will never forget the time, you grabbed the gentleman’s hat in front of you after the leafs lost an overtime game. We never even know who the guy was. You grabbed that hat, crumbled it into a little ball and threw it toward the ice. The hat nor the gentleman had ever been seen again.
You loved music. You sang all the time. Your favourite music was gospel. in your day you were very popular and often as a child we would be off to see you in concert or see you as a guest in some church singing for a lord you loved and cared for so much. I recall being so proud as congregations would stand and applaud for my mom, for you. You have given me so many memories, so many lessons and so readied me for the life that I now lead. I will miss hearing your voice mom, I will miss seeing your smile or feeling your touch but today I don’t have to say good-bye, for you are a part of me. You did a great job mom…now rest. Lastly, as I mentioned a few minutes ago I was always so proud to hear people clap and applaud for my mom after she finished singing. I would like to ask that you all stand with me now and give just one more round of applause for the woman I call Mom. Thank you and thank you Mom. I will always Love you! …..”