Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Fond Farewell

Some time last night, John's mom Midge died. She was in a private room in a nursing home/retirement home where she has been steadily slipping away for the last few months. John's sister, Chris, and his brother, David and their better halves (Dan and Kathy respectively) have been with her daily. John has been down several times, the most recent last week. A couple of weekends ago, Margot came home for two days so we could drive down to Newark and she could have a chance to hug and kiss her Grandma and tell her she loved her one last time.

Thanksgiving, 2010
My perspective at this time is so different from what it would have been before my diagnosis and subsequent events. I might have been angry, questioning why, thinking that if only someone had done this or that, she would still be alive.

From the perspective of someone who had 12 months to live in May 2010 and is now close to 24 months of life, I appreciate time to prepare. Time for everyone to try to get used to the idea of life without me. So, on that count, I am so grateful that Mom Shumway has left us bit by bit. Even though the sorrow of her loss is still very much there, we have all had a chance to see her physically slow down, diminish, begin to transition for lack of a better way to say it. And so many people have had a chance to come and visit her and show their love for her. She has touched so many people's lives with her generosity and love and great cooking and hospitality.

Subsequent events include appreciating the fact that Mom really did have a very long and for the most part healthy life, apart from the ups and downs and annoyances that happen as we age. She had three children, seven grandchildren, six great grandchildren and one on the way. Chris  has the most wonderful picture of Mom with Chris, Chris' daughter Sarah, and Sarah's first son Griffin. You can't look at it without crying. Four generations, wow!

Additionally, I have shared prayers and support with four women in their thirties who have struggled with breast cancer. They are cancer free right now, having gone through surgeries, chemo, radiation, and all the accompanying side effects. So, I am thankful that Mom didn't go through that. That she spent her time caring for others and for the most part had no serious health issues. Living a long healthy life is a blessing we too often take for granted.

I remember my mother telling me that it was terribly hard for her to come home one day from school in her early teens and find out that her beloved father, a detective, had been killed in the line of duty. She told me that she would far rather have had time to get used to the idea. So, as a final subsequent event, one of Margot's friends, Maria, lost her mother last Sunday. Maria and her 7 siblings found out that their mother had about two days to live last Friday. It was a dreadful shock to everyone in addition to the terrible sadness of losing their beloved mother. This is the opposite of the time to prepare scenario.

So, for a lot of reasons, I can't help but feel joyful that Mom was surrounded by love, and day by day took a small step on her journey into God's nearer presence. From little things she said, it seems that she knew what was happening and was looking forward to being with her beloved husband Art again. I was blessed to have her as a mother-in-law, and my kids were lucky to have her as a grandmother.

We will miss Mom Shumway always but she and Art and my parents have gifted bits of themselves to all our children, for which we are very grateful.

Thanksgiving, 2010 -- Front row: Adam, Nate, Jack, Grandma, Josiah, and Griffin; Middle row: Judy, Kathy, Chris, Sarah and Bennett, Josh, Susan, and Me; Back row: David, John, Dan, Tom, Stephanie, and Margot.

1 comment:

jaredryan said...

I can't explain how quickly my heart sped up and blood started pumping when I was laying on the couch and heard "Margot Shumway" coming from the TV. I've never known someone to be an Olympiad and although we are on "opposite" sides of the family, please know that it was an amazing moment to be a Shumway! As your blog suggests, I really don't care nor recall any detail after that due to being busy yelling MOM! and picking my jaw up off the floor.
Please tell her she had / has an extra cousin in Newark that has never been so proud to just know someone of her caliber, let alone be family!
And then there's you! You are such a guiding light for so many! I can't count the number of times I've heard my mother say "She's so neat!" speaking of you... and she has good taste. Trying to type thru some tears as I just read your tribute to Midge. I have/had amazing grandparents to which both Art and Midge make the list. Family was family! That trait has definitely jumped blood lines over to you because I know and I see that you have my mom and grandma (Ms. Pearl)not to mention my favorite nephew and even myself in your thoughts and prayers so often. You spoke of how loosing someone slowly does make the loss slightly more bearable as you have time to think about what you need or want to say. What I wouldn't give for that time with my brother. He and I were friends more than brothers and I at least can rest knowing that our last words to each other were "I love you! Promise!" Not many brothers like that in the world. Easy to feel hard on yourself but after I read your eloquent words, the tears streaming down my face were of joy, not pain... and I just can't finish this day without saying thank you! Tough times are brewing but faith and strength as strong as yours on our side will surely lessen any pain.
Ok, out to clean the pond! Thank you so much! 5 minutes of not worrying about my mom is worth a million and to you I say thanks and send my love!
Jared