My mother passed away on Wednesday. She was ninety-three. She has been slipping over the last few years, but up until a couple months ago, she was still going to Sunday mass and playing bridge once a week. She had been living with my sister, who called me last Sunday to say that my mom hadn't felt like getting out of bed. I got to spend a couple of hours with her on Tuesday. She was frustrated by her infirmity, but she still enjoyed having company.
My mom spent a couple of nights in the hospital about a month ago and one night last fall because she had trouble breathing. Other than those occasions, no one at the wake could remember her ever spending a night in the hospital other than after delivering one of her ten children.
My mother was a sincere Catholic who believed in God and the afterlife. She missed my dad a lot since he passed in 2003 and it is nice to think that they may be together again. However, if a life well lived is its own reward, she died a very rich woman. If I can do half as well, I think I will be content with the time that has been allotted to me.
by Matthew Arnold
I ask not that my bed of death
From bands of greedy heirs be free;
For these besiege the latest breath
Of fortune's favoured sons, not me.
I ask not each kind soul to keep
Tearless, when of my death he hears;
Let those who will, if any, weep!
There are worse plagues on earth than tears.
I ask but that my death may find
The freedom to my life denied;
Ask but the folly of mankind,
Then, at last, to quit my side.
Spare me the whispering, crowded room,
The friends who come, and gape, and go;
The ceremonious air of gloom—
All which makes death a hideous show!
Nor bring, to see me cease to live,
Some doctor full of phrase and fame,
To shake his sapient head and give
The ill he cannot cure a name.
Nor fetch, to take the accustomed toll
Of the poor sinner bound for death,
His brother doctor of the soul,
To canvass with official breath
The future and its viewless things—
That undiscovered mystery
Which one who feels death's winnowing wings
Must need read clearer, sure, than he!
Bring none of these; but let me be,
While all around in silence lies,
Moved to the window near, and see
Once more before my dying eyes
Bathed in the sacred dew of morn
The wide aerial landscape spread—
The world which was ere I was born,
The world which lasts when I am dead.
Which never was the friend of one,
Nor promised love it could not give,
But lit for all its generous sun,
And lived itself, and made us live.
There let me gaze, till I become
In soul with what I gaze on wed!
To feel the universe my home;
To have before my mind -instead
Of the sick-room, the mortal strife,
The turmoil for a little breath—
The pure eternal course of life,
Not human combatings with death.
Thus feeling, gazing, let me grow
Composed, refreshed, ennobled, clear;
Then willing let my spirit go
To work or wait elsewhere or here!