I handed the white Dockers to the guy behind the counter and told him the sale on the Sonny Crockett pants was just too good to pass up. His professional smile was more of a smirk and he asked if I had special plans for Father's Day.
"In fact, I do."
He waited, I swallowed.
"Going to my Mothers funeral," I said.
It's been one of those weeks. Monday Mom called the five kids in, had us all touch her somewhere, told us she was going and that she was ready. She was very emotional and I think she wanted us to be. We all told her we loved her. She knew that.
She gave all of us different advice. She told me I could get another motorcycle, but I should just sit on it and not ride it. I made her no promise on that one.
Some of what she said in the next few days made sense, some of it didn't. One day she thought someone else had died and cried about that. Then she thought she had died and cried when she realized she hadn't. She walked the streets of heaven and wondered where to find our father. When I told her he had been there longer and would find her, she was satisfied. For a while. Then she became aware that she was still on earth and wondered why she had to remain. She was ready. The days blurred. She thought she was still here because she had doubted, but there were no doubts anymore.
Liquid morphine kept her pain at bay. The rest of us relied on caffeine and casseroles.
Yesterday, we thought was her last. I took Mark on his mower down the logging road that leads to the forty acres we now own on the creek. I thought about the Christmas Eve "hunting" walks my brother, father and I had in those woods. I passed the spot where I buried my hybrid wolf the January after Pop died. I thought about the horse we had who had to be forced down that road but who ran like crazy home when you finally turned her that way.
This morning her breating was very a labored and I thought she had minutes. About 1:30 this afternoon Catina from Hospice came in, announced she might live several more hours, ordered a suction machine and oxygen. Fifteen minutes later, she listened to her heart again and went outside to cancel the order.
The family gathered. We waited. I thought about Mom's preacher being out of town all week and that maybe she was waiting on a final prayer. Catrina gave her one more dose of Morphine, stepped out to make another call.
"Mom," I said. " Here's something you don't hear every day."
I prayed out loud for the first and only time in my life. I'm not sure what I said, some of this -- maybe, but here’s some of what I was thinking:
"Those of us gathered around this bed believe your spirit is already gone on, we believe your body remains and pray that you are granted the mercy you so richly deserve. We believe you are in a kitchen somewhere with Pop canning green beans or at your Mother's side watching her fix someone's hair. Maybe you are at the park in Myrtle Beach feeding us deviled egg sandwiches and letting us use the waxed paper to slide down the big slide.
Perhaps you're in the old white 64 Impala going across that bridge that Pop always sped up on to make the car lift off so you would yell. Maybe you are helping us make costumes for Halloween, or cookies for Christmas, or sitting in your spot at church.
Maybe you are standing at the window watching Ann as a child bounce up the hill to visit with the Mothersheds on their porch, just like you watched the other four of us do over the years. Could you have possibly realized that the youngest and smallest of us might turn out to be the strongest?
Mom, it's Friday and you've been asking why you're still here since Monday. Maybe some of us were not ready to let you go. There were stories that needed to be told and stories that needed to be heard. Now we've done the things we needed to do and we've done the things you wanted us to do.
Your work here is done."
Her final couple of breaths were not labored, she slipped away peacefully. Was it the morphine, just her time, or the fact that I prayed.
I’ll ask her the next time I see her.
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