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July 30, 2018
The Farmer's Mom
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
We said goodbye to the Farmer’s Mother this weekend.
For almost a year she has been living with us, and we have walked every step beside her as she battled cancer. When she could no longer walk, we carried her, and when she could no longer be carried, we sat by her side and kept vigil over her.
I can’t resist popping into her apartment now and calling a cheery, “Good morning, Barbara!” The quiet stills my heart, but then a flood of happy memories takes the place of her reply. I see her soft grey-blue eyes twinkling at me, the way they did when I’d bring her some tempting morsel of food. I was forever trying creative ways to increase her daily calories. Last winter she was crazy about my homemade waffles. I’d sneak gelatin powder into the batter to boost her protein, and then smother them with real maple syrup which always appealed to her sweet tooth. Later, when swallowing became more difficult, we turned to smoothies made with frozen banana, berries, chocolate and other goodies. No matter what I brought her, she always greeted it with an, “Oh goodie! That looks terrific!” And then she would do her best to consume as much as her puny appetite would permit.
Periodically we would find her on the floor after a fall. At first this would terrify us. With cancer throughout her spine we feared broken bones and the thought that her care might become too much for us at home. But we discovered that “fall” wasn’t really the correct term for the act that resulted in her presence on the floor. More like “slither.” Her legs were weak but she was determined to be independent: a bad combination. Sometimes she would push herself too far and gradually, gracefully slink to the floor. One time this happened on the far side of her bed when she was trying to open the window. When we found her, I flopped across the bed and peered down at her on the floor below. With a grin I teased, “What on earth are you doing down there?” Quick as a wink she replied, “Oh, I just thought I check things out down here!”
Her sense of humor and her smile endured until the very end, even when she could no longer speak. On the last day her daughter Christi and I worked as a team to change her undergarments. We had been trained by hospice to use the draw sheet to tilt her from side to side. Since she was so tiny, it seemed like an easy task, but Christi and I had a clumsy time of it, bumping heads and tossing her about like she was fritter in a pan. Anxiously we looked at her face, worried that we were causing her pain, and there she was, laughing, a big silent grin! Before you knew it all three of us were giggling.
She passed during the night when all was quiet, the Farmer asleep near her. When he awoke and found her he was struck by the expression on her face. She had turned to look at something and there was her beautiful smile, our final enduring memory of her.
Midwifing a loved one out of this world changes the way you experience life. Suddenly you realize how small moments hold so much meaning, like cuddling on the couch, or sharing a dish of coffee ice cream together. And how the world stops turning for just a moment when your eyes meet, and a smile says more than any words.
We will miss you Mom! XO!