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At My Mother’s Side

By: Amelia Sweeney

When I consider my Mom’s passing from this earthly life into eternal life, I cannot help but thank God for having been able to be there during her last days with us. At the time, I was still serving in the U.S. Navy and, through what must have been divine intervention, was blessed enough to be stationed in my hometown and able to be near my mother during those last couple years of her life. It was the greatest gift God could have bestowed on me to allow me to be near her then. Mom and I were so much “of one accord” that I continue to feel her influence in my everyday life.

During the very difficult times that we endure when loved ones are suffering a terminal illness, the opportunities arise for mere mortals to “rise to the occasion.” Among those who rose to the occasion—and the true champion of Mom’s daily care throughout those final six months—was my father. I never knew how strong he was until I witnessed every little thing that he did for her when she was no longer able to do them for herself. Another thing that touched my heart was that Mom guided him and taught him to do some of those things, since she no longer could do them. Not only did he have to take on those everyday duties she performed as a homemaker, but he also tended to her every need—hygiene, nutrition, administering of medicines, etc. We could have helped him with those tasks, but he took them on willingly and lovingly—in large part, I believe, to preserve her dignity. Her dignity and her faith were what Mom clung to during those last months. In fact, I will never forget that even the priest who visited her in her final days to perform the “anointing of the sick” said, at her funeral, that she had “taught him how to die—with complete faith and dignity”.

One of my last memories of Mom was during those couple of days very near the end that each of my siblings and I were given the opportunity to visit her individually to say our final goodbyes. One of the passions that Mom and I shared was singing. Mom was French Canadian and loved the music of Edith Piaf, so she had told me that I should learn to sing “La Vie en Rose.” I learned the song and performed it for the very first time during my last visit with her. I remember taking a little CD player with me when I stood by her bedside. I’m not sure how I got through the song, but she was pleased and, in her very weak state, expressed her appreciation. She shed a tear and I shed many. To this day, when I perform gigs, that song is always the final song of my last set.

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