My Final Moments with My Mother

Written by Braiden on November 21, 2011

Mom (right) holding my little brother, Brad; Braiden; and Granddaddy Looper, Mom’s father

My mother died from a “catastrophic event,” when her defective heart defibrillator blew up in her chest.

Despite a hurried ambulance trip to the hospital, she survived only a few hours, then was gone.

Luckily, I had talked to my mother earlier that day (we live in Seattle and she and Dad lived in Austin, Texas, at the time). We chatted about how she was feeling (not well) and I urged her to try to drink one of her favorite beverages–vanilla malt powder stirred into a mug of hot milk.

When the conversation began to wane and we were about to sign off, she said in a very chipper voice, “Love you, baby.”

After she was pronounced dead and my brother and I received the news, we both boarded red-eye flights to Texas to comfort Dad and prepare her memorial service.

Mom never wanted any “doings” after she was gone, so we knew she wouldn’t approve of anything that resembled a formal funeral. So instead, we decided instead to throw a life-celebration party, something like a sedate Irish wake, and invite Mom and Dad’s neighbors and friends.

The wake/party turned out wonderfully well with my brother and me sharing our thoughts with the small group of people who huddled in Mom and Dad’s living room.

Meanwhile, Mom’s body was at a local funeral home waiting for cremation. The funeral director asked if any of us wanted to see her one last time.

Both my brother and father declined.

Me? I wanted to see my mother and say goodbye to her one last time.

My caring and most supportive husband drove us to the funeral home. It was in a nice wooded part of town, with a residential feel, almost.

Together we walked into the dimly lit parlor.

Mom was on a gurney covered by a sheet. The funeral director pulled the stiff cloth away from her face to neck level. We could see her hands as well but that was all.

She looked surprisingly young–not a wrinkle in her face–and totally at peace. I was so happy to see her that way, especially after the horrific circumstances of her death.

I had wanted to place something in her hand before she was cremated. . .sort of a token of her life on earth that she could carry into the great beyond.

So, while still in her bedroom back at the house, I’d cast about for something meaningful. First I thought of an artificial amethyst ring she loved to wear (born in February, amethyst was her birthstone) but thought that seemed somehow too crass and materialistic.

Then, sitting right on her bedside table, where she would have seen it each and every day, I noticed a set of miniature porcelain cats that included a mother cat and four kittens. They were painted in pale blue against white, sort of like Delft ware, but in a more Asian style.

I immediately loved them.

I took one of the kitten statues, wrapped it in a tissue, and thrust it into my pocket.

Back at the funeral parlor, the funeral director asked if I would like a few minutes alone with Mom. I nodded my head and he and Spencer stepped outside.

I took her cold hand, placed the little kitty in her palm, and closed her fingers around it.

My parting words to my mother began to spill out unchecked.

I told her how much I loved her and how I was happy to be her daughter, much like the little kitty who was now cuddled in her hand. I hoped she’d have a good journey and would end up in a better place, back with all the cats we’d had during childhood, as well as all her relatives and friends who had gone before her.

I pulled the sheet back over her face, went back into the somber parlor, and fell into Spencer’s strong and waiting arms.

More stories from: Featured Story,With My Mom