My Mother
My mother was more than a mother to me, she was also my best friend and companion.  She was full of life, compassion and fun.  We grew even close after my father passed away about eight years ago.  Eventually all that was left in our house was myself, my mom and my 17 year old daughter, Ashley.
She had always been very healthy and when she needed her aortic valve replaced, we were surprised.  She went through the surgery very well and was even the life of the party at my older daughter, Heather's, wedding.  Then during a check up masses were discovered in her abdomen.  She went through chemotheraphy and went into remission.  But a week before Christmas a year ago she came downstairs and couldn't find her robe.  Ultimately she was diagnosed with multiple brain tumors.  In a matter of days she was going through oral chemotherapy and radiation to the head.  I stopped working to take care of her.  I took her to the doctors, for treatment, whatever she wanted.  She didn't have balance any more so I had to keep an eye on her when she would get up.  My daugher, Heather, and I tried to bring her bed downstairs but she wouldn't hear of it.  Eventually she was hospitalized with a kidney infection and almost died.  I had no choice but to order a hospital bed for her.  It was delivered and I set up the family room as comfortable as I could for her.  She was disappointed and scared, knowing how sick she must be to have to be in this situation.  I told her the important thing is that we were together.  She agreed.
The first night I was so concerned about her I pushed the couch up against her bed so I would be sure to hear her if she needed me.  It was late and the room dark.  My youngest was up in bed, and my mom was sound asleep.  I laid down with our little dog at my feet, and felt my hair fall.  But it didn't fall, someone stroked the side of my head several times.  I sat up looking around.  My mother was asleep.  Our dog was cuddled up in her corner of the couch, the room was quiet and empty.  I felt a peace all around me.
I don't know who that was.  If it was an angel or my dad, but I absolutely do know that someone stroked the side of my head.  I thanked whoever it was and went to sleep.
The next year was difficult, and eventually I purchased a blow up bed and slept on the floor next to her.  My goal was to give her the best days that I could, and make her laugh at least once a day.  She loved to shop.  So I put the wheelchair in the trunk and every day we would shop, do lunch, or sit out on the patio.  She loved flowers so my younger daughter and I planted all kinds of flowers.  The flowers took over and for some reason hundreds of snap dragons grew in the rocks that surrounded the bushes all around our house.
Then by the end of summer she was getting weaker, not a lot, but she told me she was slowing down.  One night my older daughter had a dream.  My mom and dad were in the kitchen opening a present addressed to them.  I told her maybe that meant grandma was going to die on Christmas.  My daughter didn't like that so I dropped the subject.  A week later I had a dream and saw my dad.  I hugged him, and actually felt him.  His lower eye lids drooped and the whites were red, just like my mother's looked when she was tired, and he told me I would have to handle the bathroom duty.  I purchased a computer chair and would roll her to the bathroom.  I wanted to keep every thing as normal and allow her to keep her dignity as much as possible.  Then a week after that my son had a dream about my dad.  He called me and said he never dreams about grandpa.  He said my dad had told him he needed his advice.  He had to yell at grandma and tell her if she is going to do something she needed to do it right or not at all.  He asked what I thought that meant.  I said I didn't know.   But I told him and my other family members I didn't like the idea of being alone when she passed away.  Not after working so hard to let her live.  As life became more difficult I often would think of the night someone had stroked my hair.  I could still feel the gentle strokes, and I felt honored for the experience, and it gave me confidence to continue on.
I know my mom was fighting to go on and tried her best, but she just grew weaker and weaker.  I decided I would have to have everyone over for Christmas Eve and Christmas.  We always opened our presents on Christmas Eve.  So the whole family, over 30 of us, came over on Christmas Eve.  She was so weak she had trouble even closing her mouth.  My heart broke that whole day as I went through the motions of Christmas.  Just when it was time to open the mother struggled for air, and passed away.  She didn't want to go, but if you are going to do something right....
I miss her.

[This] is a picture of my two daughters and my mom on her birthday.  I
bought all "my girls" matching sweatshirts on my mom's birthday.  My mother
loved pink, to laugh and those girls of mine.

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