My mother would have been 81 years old tomorrow. She died five years ago this month--on August 11th, just one day after her 76th birthday. At the time, she and my dad lived in Florida and all of us children still lived in Michigan. One by one, we called her on the 10th to wish her a happy birthday, none of us realizing it would be the last time we would ever speak to her. The following morning, she became ill; she died later that evening in the hospital where she'd been taken by ambulance earlier in the day.
As was my custom when we talked on the phone, I closed the conversation that last time by saying, "I love you." She always responded in kind, but this time, I remember being a little surprised by her response. She said, "No, I love YOU." They were the last words she ever spoke to me.
Would I have remembered that inflection in her voice, that emphasis on "you" if she had not died the next day? I like to think so. After all, I took mental note of it at the time it happened. But had she not died, there would have been other conversations, other words and thoughts and laughter to dilute the impact of what turned out to be the last thing she said to me. They may have been lost forever, drowned in a sea of conversation that, although still precious to me, may have stolen the specialness of that moment from me forever.
I like to think that God, Who knew this was the last time I would ever speak to my mother, put those words in her mouth and opened my ears and mind to make special note of them. So frequently in this frantic society in which we live, our busyness prevents us from remembering the important things. I thank God that He guides us in watching for those special times, listening for those precious words, and noting those special acts of love that could otherwise be swept away by life's swift current.
I love you, Mother. And I miss you terribly.
Until the next time...