Twenty-five Mother's Days Without Her

Cathy B. Bridges

© Copyright 2020 by Cathy B. Bridges

Photo of Cathy's mom.

Today is May 27, 2020, and mama has been gone 25 years and 15 days. She passed from this life to a better one on May 12, 1995. That was the Friday before Motherís Day. I will never forget it. I was working for an optometrist on the other end of town when my dad called with the bad news. Mama had died. At first, I could not believe it, even calling daddy back to make sure I heard right since he had been crying when he called. I could not get there fast enough, but after arriving, seeing mama laid out in the backyard was a horrible and unforgettable sight.

Daddy had called 911, but it appeared he had called me first. He knew she was gone and was so upset when I got there; he did not know up from down. He had them on the phone, so I dropped down in the grass in my white scrub pants and took over. They talked me through CPR while the ambulance was on its way, but it was too late, mama was gone. Shortly after, the ambulance arrived, and of course, they could not get a response. The paramedics loaded her on a gurney and pushed it around to the front where the ambulance sat running.

Daddy rode in the front of the ambulance, and I talked to him briefly before it left. I knew right then that mama was gone and would not be back. I could smell itóthe smell of death. You know what I mean. It has so many different distinguishing odors, some you will never forget. This one almost sickened me and will be with me for the rest of my life. It was hard to associate my mama with these awful odors.

After locking up my parentís home, I headed to the hospital and met daddy in a part that I had never been to before. A nice lady placed us in a room full of tissue boxes where they come in and tell you that your loved one is deceased. That is just what her doctor did, explaining that mama had a cardiac arrest that took her from us. They took us to the morgue nearby to see her one more time, which was another horrible an unforgettable experience. There she was lying on a stainless-steel slab covered with a sheet and naked as the day she came into this world. They were getting her ready to go into refrigeration, awaiting the funeral homeís arrival to get her body.

We buried mama on the Monday after Motherís Day in the navy floral dress that I had bought her, and she had never worn. Mama looked like herself, and her appearance was as if she was just asleep for a while. I remember walking around the funeral home like a zombie. I could not be still, and my nerves were on end. It was a very long day, but I hated to see it end because then it would be all over, and my precious momís body that I loved so much would be in the ground. I knew where her soul was, but I hated to think of her being in the cold ground.

Mama had mentioned needing a new black handbag, so that is what I got her for Motherís Day, but never had a chance to give it to her. I donít recall what I did with it. Maybe I sold it on eBay because I could not bring myself to use it. It was for mama, not me.

So many Motherís Days have gone by, and all I could do was to put flowers on her grave. I just visited her grave a few weeks ago to place a new flower arrangement in the urn that sits between her and daddy. I usually change the flowers out 3 or 4 times a year. That is all I can do for either one of them now, and I wish I had been able to spend more time with them. Mama loved to go shopping at fabric stores. She loved to sew and did a lot of it when she was younger. Discount stores were another place Mama loved to look for bargains. She was a tightwad with her money and always did what she felt was best.

This past Motherís Day, I thought about what a wonderful mama I had and how much I miss her. She was a well-respected Southern Christian lady, and very unobtrusive. She never pushed herself on others. That was not her way, but she was always very friendly to all, and she did not have any enemies. I canít think of anyone that did not like or have great respect for her.

There is nothing negative to be said about her because there is none. There is no way I could ever come close to being the great person she was. I reckon itís not in me, although I have tried. Mama loved God, her family, and her home. She enjoyed working in the garden or with her flowers and could tell you the name of every flower in the South.

Her cooking was something special also, and one reason was that she enjoyed it so much. My husband can vouch for that because mama sure did help fatten him up through the years. She could make the best turkey and cornbread dressing on Thanksgiving. Her cakes and pies would make your mouth water just thinking about them. She made a yum-yum cake that was so moist and yummy that it did not last long. Her fruit cocktail pies were great in the summertime also.

Christmas was a favorite of mamaís, and she would busy herself in the kitchen baking and cooking while listening to Christmas music. It always made her so happy, and I loved seeing her smiling, enjoying herself with her family during the holidays. When the grandkids came along, she was really in her element. Having children around again just made things perfect for her. She did not need anything else because she had everything she needed.

Mama was a cashier at Kroger for over 30 years, but she also was a front-end manager and worked in the front office. She worked at many different Kroger stores in the Huntsville area. A lot of people would tell you that mama was the friendliest and fastest cashier at Kroger. People loved her because she was humble and had a great personality. The camaraderie between mama and her co-workers was always great, and she had repeat customers that came through her line for years because they enjoyed having a brief chat with her.

After mama retired, she enjoyed it for a short time, because it was not long before she had a heart attack that resulted in irreparable damage to one side of her heart. She changed her eating habits, walked, and lost some weight. They had a beautiful big back yard, and she walked around and around almost every day. She did try to watch what she ate, but it was not easy. It is hard to change your eating habits when you grew up in the South eating all the heart-stopping delicious meals such as fried chicken, fried potatoes, fried okra, and squash, plus cornbread and pinto beans and maybe some turnip greens flavored with pork fatback.

One lovely May morning around 9:00, she walked as usual but did not know it would be her last. My dad was pulling weeds not too far away. Mama had done a few laps around the yard when she got close enough to tell daddy that she felt faint. He told her to come and sit down, which she did. According to daddy, mama said, ďHold me.Ē He pulled her to him, and she was gone. She died in his arms around all her favorite colorful flowers. I believe that would have been the way she wanted it.

Mama would have turned 64 that coming September, and that is way too young to die. It gives me much to think about, though, because I am 64 now. Would that I could die at home quickly and painless as my precious mama did. She is an angel in Heaven now but left us too soon. Mama was so special to her family, and I am glad to have lots of beautiful pictures and memories of her.

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