She is sitting in bed, fully clothed when we arrive, watching the small screen television that hangs from the wall via a giant white metal arm.
She is surprised to see us. Smiles her special way and says how excited she is that we have come. I’ve told C.C. that his being there will be extra special for her. My mother loves to flirt.
On December 15th, my mother fell and broke her shoulder, elbow, finger and hip. The doctors did not give a good prognosis from the surgery. “We can’t guarantee she’ll make it through,” they told us. At 94, any surgery is risky and for my mother, the extent of her injuries made it even more so.
And now, she’s defying the odds.
She’s walking. She still needs assistance to get out of bed, and her left arm is still in a cast, but she has confounded everyone with her spirit, her determination and her will to ‘get going’.
“I’m so frustrated by how slow it is,” she told C.C. and I last night. “I want to heal faster.”
And we laughed and told her to slow down. The nurses have told my sister that mom tries too hard, pushes herself too fast. She needs to pace herself better.
It is not her way.
I remember when, sometime in her 80’s, she wanted the couch moved in her apartment. I told her I’d be there later that day to help. By the time I’d arrived, she’d already done it by herself.
That is my mother.
Stubborn. Determined. Independent.
Last night she told us that when the accident happened, she was ready to die. “I’ve lived my life,” she said. “I was good to go. Now, I guess I’ll just keep living every day.” And she shrugged her shoulders in her oh so French way and said, “It’s God’s will,” before adding with a mischievous smile and a twinkle in her eyes, “I guess he just doesn’t want me yet.”
My mother’s faith is strong. She has no doubt she is going to heaven. That God will eventually call her home. She believes.
I admire my mother’s faith. It has been a constant in my life. It has never wavered. Even in me. Even in those times when she despaired I would ever ‘turn out right’. Her faith has never wavered.
No matter how dark the times, like the loss of her only son and his wife in a car accident and then her husband to a heart attack a short 15 months later, while she felt lost and afraid, her faith stayed strong. Her belief that God has a reason, a grand design for her life has never dimmed.
She shows us the black rosary wound around her wrist. I remember that rosary from my childhood. It hung around the neck of the statue of the Virgin Mary that stood in the living room of every house we ever lived in. “This was my father’s,” she tells us. She pulls out the crucifix that is tucked into her sleeve. “He was wearing it when he died. I shall be wearing it when I die too. But that won’t be for a while yet,” she adds as she kisses the crucifix before tucking it back into her sleeve.
My mother is doing well. She is walking, slowly, or at least as slow as she is willing to go. She is getting stronger, sleeping well and eating even better. That is a gift. We’ve sometimes worried about her lack of eating.
No more. God has a plan for her. He doesn’t want her yet.
“I hope Alexis and J get busy making a baby soon,” she said. “I’d like to be a great-grandmother before I go.”
She has faith that God will answer her prayers.