Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas tears again

Last year, on December 21, to be exact, I wrote "Christmas Tears" - a story of losing my sister-in-law, Mavis, only days before Christmas.

Doris (Roed) Steffen
Who would know that one year later, I would be losing my own mother. Christmas tears, once again.

We sit beside her hospital bed, my sisters and brother and I, gently rubbing her hand, offering her sips of water, watching her sleep. Taking care of her as tenderly as she cared for all of us in days past.

Each of saying goodbye in our own way.

A New Year's Eve baby, Mom was born almost 88 years ago in New York City, the youngest of three in her family and the only daughter of immigrants from Denmark and Sweden.  After a World War II-era romance with my father, stationed in Brooklyn with the U.S. Navy, she moved with him to Minnesota to start her married life. Children soon followed.  Six, in fact. Thus began her motherhood career.

It was a role from which she never retired. She has taken care of all of us through good times and bad. She planned weddings, rocked grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and even one great-great grandchild. Buried her beloved husband of over 60 years.

I sit and gaze at her hands resting across her blanket on the bed. I think of the work those hands have done in 87-plus years. And the exquisite needlework those hands have created. And the tears those hands have wiped.

But mostly, how often those hands have been folded in prayer. Blessing, asking, giving thanks, perhaps even sometimes pleading.  But always trusting.

And those hands are trusting now, that soon they will be stilled and she will know the joy of the great reunion she will have in heaven. Perhaps they will clap as she sees the face of her Lord and Savior.

We wish her a safe and happy journey and don't deny her right to make her exit now.  Our sadness is all about us, of that we are clear.

So if you will help us all through this journey with her, we will remain strong and keep our focus on the joy that awaits her soon.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.