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I have been greiving the loss of my Mother-in-Love and friend since last December, when she went to the place she most wanted to be all her life, Heaven!!! I have been blessed with time with a great Hospice councellor and she encouraged me last month to write a letter to Joyce about what I was thinking and feeling. Knowing many others come to this day of the year and are missing their mom I wanted to share. If you’ve never written a letter to someone you have lost, try it. It was a great exercise in feeling organization.


Dear Joyce,

Happy first Mother’s Day in Heaven. I sure do miss you.

I’m sitting here in my kitchen, one of the places we spent many hours sharing life. Mostly because you always made a point of stopping by on your way home from your church activities, and that’s where you and I always ended up during family gatherings…someone had to do the dishes until the kids were big enough!

I rarely stopped and just sat with you. I rearranged my chores to the kitchen and laundry so I could keep busy and not loose time, because I always felt like I could never get it all done. I sure was put into a funk when Monday was a holiday.

I wonder if I move over to the stool you always sat on if I could remember all the things we talked about? I doubt it, but that really sums up my overall feeling these days, trying to  get back all the times I hurried life along.

I’m trying to remember exactly when our weekly visits in my kitchen stopped.

I guess sometime while Russ and I were traveling, after he retired, you stopped counting at church and started cutting back on other activities you had been so involved in. When we returned, things were changing with your health rather quickly. I didn’t realize those little changes would make such a big difference. Or maybe, a big difference was being made by lots of little things changing. Five years ago, I certainly couldn’t see how all the changes were adding up to where things are today.

I miss you, I still can’t believe you are gone.

We expect our parents will always be here as our parents. I certainly wasn’t ready for the role changes that happened in our relationship during the past few years. All the senior caregiving I had done did not prepare me emotionally for taking care of you and the progression of your health. I really thought that we could get to the bottom of the issues and find a reasonable solution. But I think now, that I may have wanted a different solution than you did.

I think I might be a bit mad about it all.

Somewhere in everything, you just were ready to be done with all the aches, pains, medications, sleepless nights, loss of your friends as they went before you, and all the other nitty gritty crap that comes with old age. I’m about the age right now that you were when we first met. I didn’t think you were old then, and I certainly didn’t think you were old when you died. I think you still had so much to offer those around you. But you were determined not to be a “burden” to us. I lost count of how many times you told me that you didn’t want to go to a nursing home, our home, or Steve and Terri’s home. You were adamant that you were going to die at home. Well I got the last laugh on that one, because technically, you died at my house…but you ultimately got your biggest wish, no nursing home or living with your kids!

You were one of the most inspirational people I know. In spite of what life threw your way, you prayed and did not hold grudges. You prayed for some all their life, in spite of what they had done. You wisely moved on and set your heart on the things of God, serving others in your daily life and praying for so many. You lived more frugally than anyone I know and were more appreciative of the little things in life than most. You always thanked me and called me sweetie when I helped you with anything.

I wish I could hear you say it one more time.

Your orchid bloomed this past week. It is beautiful white with dainty little yellow centers. I’m sure it was in bloom when you received it, but I don’t remember ever seeing it in bloom. In fact, when we were cleaning things up, I thought it was a fake plant because the leaves were so perfect. It was so like you not to get rid of it just because it wasn’t blooming at the moment.

I still have several boxes of your things to go through. Some items will be put away for your great grand children for when they marry and I hope to find a home for all the other treasures I didn’t have the heart to send to a thrift shop. The things I kept, like the orchid, remind me that you aren’t gone. You live on in your family, friends, and anyone who knew you, because of your love and kindnesses to them. And Like the orchid, new blooms will come. I hope to be a smidgen of the mother-in-law you have been to me to my daughters and sons in law. I hope to be a smidgen of the mom you have been to Russ and Steve to my adult children, loving them fiercely and unconditionally, regardless of choices they made. I hope to be a smidgen of the prayer warrior you were. And someday, with lots of practice (that I will finally get because the baking falls to me now), I hope to make an apple pie as good as yours.

I know you had regrets in life, we talked about them. They didn’t seem all that big to me, but they were things that you thought you could have or should have done better. I wish you were still here so you had more opportunity to reconcile those things, and so I could do all the things I think I missed or hurried along with you. But I know that’s not to be. I’ll let them go, as I’m sure you already have. All I can do going forward is to be more “thoughtful” about the opportunities I have.

Your love and care for me is unmeasurable. I thank you for making me a better person and challenging me (usually with just that raised eyebrow) when I was heading down the wrong path. I thank you for your unconditional, overwhelming love.

I thank Jesus that he put you in my life!

Love you always,