I'm Just Not Ready Yet
Copyright 2005 by Alice L. Luckhart
Regrets, everyone goes through pang of conscience at one time or another for things not done or words not said to family members. These regrets are especially true after the death of a loved one. Therefore, when the opportunity presents itself and you feel that inner spirit saying, “Do it now !” that is exactly what needs to be done, so there are no regrets later. The following true story illustrates those feelings of two daughters with their mother.
We were on our second drink; laughing and giggling like schoolchildren while seated at one of the many bars scattered throughout the ship. My sister, Carol, then turned serious and took my right hand, holding it firmly in her two hands. She wanted me to know how wonderful a suggestion it was that we two girls take our mother on this cruise in the Caribbean for a week. She said to me, “I’m just not ready yet to give her up. I don’t want to lose her!” The brainstorm for the trip came a few months earlier after Mom had gone through some major heart procedures and we thought we might have “lost” her. It was a wake up call to spend some genuine time, mother and daughters together. How perfect, a cruise for a full week with no husbands or children, instead an opportunity for Mom and her two daughters to just enjoy each other’s company. Mom had not been on a cruise for nearly twenty years so she longed for this trip. She had been a widow for the last 16 years and had lived with my sister and her family most of that time. Her life had centered on the grandchildren and her hobbies. Even with the heart condition the news of a cruise gave her the determination to improve enough to go on that voyage with the doctor‘s blessings.
It was a great seven days on the high seas. The three of us went to all the shows on the ship, gambled in the casino, took assorted tours while at the various ports and met some fabulous people. The other individuals at our ship’s dining table were two sisters from Connecticut on vacation. They were about the same age as my sister and I and we all hit it off right away. Mom had always been able to mix well with our friends and never felt out of place. The time just seemed to fly by as we stayed up late and tried to pack as much activity into every day.
Health wise Mom had done very well, a little swelling in the feet but a little medication helped that problem. Once back home all Mom could talk about was the great times she had on the trip. She bragged to her friends of being with her daughters the whole time and all the things we did.
A few months after returning home, Carol got a phone call late one night from Mom who lived about four miles away. She wanted Carol, a registered nurse, to come over immediately. Mom was having difficulty breathing that night and there was almost a frantic tone in her voice. An intense cold feeling came over Carol as she rushed out the door. Her 17-year old daughter, Dawn, joined for the drive to Mom’s house. They managed to drive the distance in record time and unlocked the front door without any lights. However, it was too late, there was no pulse, and Mom had slipped away more than likely right after her anxious phone call to Carol.
Her death had come as a shock to the family, in spite of her heart condition. Over the next few days, there was plenty to take care and to arrange for her burial at Arlington National Cemetery, her final wish since she was a veteran from World War II. Repeatedly all we were truly grateful for the cruise we had taken with her. Our happiness was in not putting it off, saying we were too busy. We were glad we made the time, for her.
Over the next six months, Carol threw herself into her job and taking care of her family. Her work involved establishing adult education programs for the school system. For her efforts, Carol received the nomination as one of the Teachers of the Year for the county. At the teacher’s awards presentation Carol had to give a speech. It was at that point she was able to express her intense feelings. She gave credit for her achievements to her “best friend”, the woman who had been an inspiration and a mentor to her over the years. Her “friend” was watching over her, reassuring and giving her guidance. That companion, that friend, was our Mom.
I am a Florida native and a graduate of Florida
State University. In Stuart, Florida between 1972 - 1990, I was a 7th
grade social studies teacher. In 1983 I married a fellow teacher and
we both ran the family business after his father’s death in
1984. The business was sold in 2000 and I was then able to pursue my
interests of genealogical research and nonfiction writing.
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