Thursday, December 13, 2007

29 Years Ago....



Exactly 29 years ago today, almost to the minute, now that I look at the time, my mom passed away. I had just turned 8 years old only 11 days before (and she had turned 41 years old only 12 days before...our birthdays were one day apart). It had to have been the most confusing, mind-boggling day in my life!

I was in second grade, in a small school. I remember that we were just doing our thing in that second grade room, I think broken up into groups of some sort, class was in more of an informal mode. Suddenly, I could hear someone at the door talking to the teacher. Next thing I knew, I was being called to the door, and when I went over there, the principal was standing there, informing me that I needed to grab my stuff, I was leaving for the day. I went back to my coat hook, gathered up my coat, boots, and whatever else I typically took home each day and went over to the door, quite mystified. Why was I leaving?

When I went out into the hallway, I saw my younger brother waiting for me. Then it dawned on me! We had our Sunday School program that following Sunday (this was a Wednesday) and I was sure that we were having an extra practice. I think that maybe we did have a practice planned for that night at the church and somehow I decided that they must have upped the time...this was a very important event, you know!

When we got down the hall to the principal's office, which was only three doors down, I noticed that my uncle was there waiting for us and within a very short time, my brothers and sisters were coming down the hall from the high school. They were crying....what was wrong? Then my uncle told us, "God has decided to take your mom to heaven!" I could feel the waves of absolute confusion and disbelief hit me slowly. What on earth was he saying? There was only one thing, that my mom had died, but he didn't actually say that!

The next thing that I remember is riding to the next town to the hospital, about a 10 mile drive, in our uncle's big, green Suburban.

Next, we were in a small family waiting room full of people. Everyone was crying, some actually wailing. My grandma, my dad's mom, was almost hysterical, wailing and going from person to person, giving hugs. My mom and grandma were very close. My brother and I kind of slunk back and tried to wedge ourselves between one of the adults and a wall near the door. She still found us!

Next, I remember the doctor coming in, still in his green scrubs. He too was sobbing! *He had delivered all 11 of our babies, this was the 12th... he was totally grief-stricken and somehow felt immense guilt, although the condition she passed away from, we later learned, was totally rare and usually fatal...he passed away of a heart attack the next month.*

The next memory I have of that day is coming home and walking up to our farmhouse, looking at the front door and seeing the faces of my two sisters that had stayed home that day to babysit the two who weren't in school peering through the window, looking first happy, then slightly confused. They thought Mom had had the baby but at the same time, I think they also sensed something wasn't right.

Then, the house was full of crying and sobbing people, a group of neighbors came and formed a prayer ring in the kitchen.

Soon, the kitchen was full of food, goodies, people....we girls slipped away upstairs to our bedroom to discuss our future without Mom. Now what? How are we going to keep up with the house, the meals, the laundry..? A plan was quickly formulated...a job chart with rotating weekly jobs (which, amazingly over the years, never wavered; every week we faithfully switched jobs and not one week was missed). The older girls took over meals, laundry was coordinated by my oldest sister.

What a day, what a week, what a Christmas! There is so much more to reminesce....finding gifts in closets, trying to figure out to whom each was intended, then finding Mom's list after Christmas and wondering, do we let everyone have the gift they got or make them switch to whom Mom had intended them to go, to honor her intentions...Christmas carolers suddenly showing up one evening to sing outside our living room window, resulting in my Dad sobbing throughout the singing....trying to stumble through that Christmas without mom! Lots of heartache, confusion, pulling together and circling wagons within our family..Dad grieving for about a week, then pulling himself up, kicking in as both the mom and dad to this family of 11 children, ranging in age from 2 to 19....coming together in this traumatic time and becoming a very close, tight-knit family and staying that way to this day...very, very close friends forever!

*Just a side note, keep in mind, these are the memories from an eight-year-old mind. Some of them may be slightly off but most of them have since been discussed and verified within our family, each of us remembering each event with our own details...when we add the details all together, the whole event becomes more full for each of us. *

*On our mom's birthday (December 1st) and the anniversary of her death (December 13th), we light a white candle in her memory. This year, one of my daughters gave me a Christmas gift early...it is the heart-shaped candle holder with a white tea candle in it in the photos above. I thought it to be a very appropriate candle to light in my mom's memory!

14 comments:

suburbancorrespondent said...

That is so sad! Your poor dad! I take it the baby didn't survive either? And what great older sisters, planning to run the household like that! My teen daughter would run away from home rather than do that, I think.

Driving With the Brakes On said...

I could not imagine losing my mom - particularly at such a young age. It sounds like you have wonderful brother, sisters, and family who rallied around and supported one another during that difficult time. The candle holder is beautiful and a wonderful tribute to your mother.

Kellan said...

That is such a sad Christmas story about your mom and I am so sorry to hear that you lost her when you were so young. You are luck though to have had such a large family and that has got to have helped everyone to be able to lean on each other and take care of each other - what a blessing.

Thank you for sharing this very special and sweet story of your precious mother. I will never forget this story. See you later. Kellan

Darla said...

The baby didn't survive either. We actually just got the hospital records from that day, of all the events as they took place. We found out that the baby's heart tones were the first to go (a comfort in a way because I always imagined that he was alive and slowly died as they worked on my mom). He was between 2-3 weeks overdue...a 13 pounder!... and as my mom was almost complete, on the delivery table, they began to lose baby's heart beat, then my mom's blood pressure started dropping. She was conscious during much of it. They gave several IV heart meds, were able to get a blood pressure for a little bit, inserted a pacemaker, then lost her. Pretty tragic! It's still hard sometimes to think of those days and even now, especially days like I've had lately (just so busy, kids intense, fighting each other and me more than ever), I still miss her! It would be fun to have a mom to call and whine to! :) Instead, my sisters get it!!! We all vent to each other, so we're all even, I think!

Darla said...

Oh, and by the way, we found out that it was an amniotic fluid embolism that she died from.

onthegomom said...

Oh Darla... {{{HUGS}}} I am so sorry for your loss at such a young age and what a wonderful family you have that kept your lives going and still loved, supported and encouraged each other. The candle is gorgeous. God Bless you and your family. *wiping tears away*

Maria said...

Wow, what a post! 29 years ago and it's something you'll never forget. Your story is a lesson to us all.

Darla said...

Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful comments! It has been a little bit of a weird day for me..some years the day whizzes by and although I think back, I don't dwell on it. Other years go by, like this one, and I get more affected by it. It is a bittersweet time; on one hand, it was such of a great loss, on the other hand, it was an event that has defined each of us as individuals and us as a family. It helps for me to be able to share the story and get such encouraging comments from others. It puts some fullness back into an otherwise bit of an empty-feeling day! :) Thanks for allowing me to tell about it!

houseofdanes said...

darla, how sad for you. wow, that is basically my age and though I feel sometimes i'm about to go, realistically I'm hoping i have more time. i hope you had some close siblings to share your memories and grief with. my heart breaks for you.... though I'm not close at all with my mother, haven't seen her since 1999 and she lives 3 hrs away that is my choice... as a little girl you had none!
thanks for sharing that.

carrie & troy keiser said...

Thanks for sharing your memories with us. I can not even imagine how it would have been to be you all. You come from a strong family!

Shellie said...

I'm in a puddle after reading this. If there's one thing I don't want to do, it's leave my kids before they're grown. I know what you mean about anniversaries. Most of my people seem to die during the months of October thru December so as soon as the weather turns, I remember a lot more. Some years it is hard, other years it's not, but they are always more present for some reason. This year I just really miss them a lot. I'm going to read your story to my daughter so she will at least think about pulling together, hopefully, all of us together. What a great example your older siblings are!

Darla said...

That is really young and so many of us are right around that age now. As a result of my mom dying, one of my fears has been leaving my kids before they're grown and gone from here. I know how hard that is and how much I've missed having a mom. The positive side though has been, as a result, I appreciate mothering my kids and really enjoy a lot of the little, even mundane, things a mom does because I didn't get that mothering as a child.

I just wrote so much, I had to go back and erase most of it because it ended up being long enough to be a post in itself! I guess I have a lot more to say about this topic so I will post more when I get a chance! :) I guess to sum it up in a nutshell, I have to say that my learning goes on and on as a result of losing my mother. I will expound upon that thought soon!

Shellie said...

Darla, thanks for your comments on my blog, that so validated how I was feeling! I'm glad I'm not the only one who is interrupted to utter distraction. In any case, it made for the perfect addition to the post.

Christine said...

I'm sorry. I don't know what I would do if I lost my mom. God Bless.