Thinking back upon my childhood one thing that is always connected with Mother’s Day for me is my parents wedding anniversary. My parents were married on May 9th and since Mother’s Day always falls on the second Sunday of May it was always near my parents wedding anniversary. As kids my sisters and brother and I always wanted to get them something for their anniversary and something for my Mom for Mother’s Day. My Mom always wanted to have a Rose Garden, so we began buying them rose bushes for their special days. It was a beautiful thought and was greatly appreciated by them, but I do not recall the Rose Garden ever developing into much. That might have been the fact that the soil in our yard wasn’t very good, or that the winters in my youth were very harsh, or that the garden was in the foul territory of the first baseline in our backyard, regardless of why I do not remember the garden being much of a success.
But the image of a rose reminds me of their marriage of 60 years. I have a picture of my Mom that was taken on their 60th Anniversary. Mom is wearing a beautiful corsage of yellow roses. At that time in her life she was living in a Nursing Home in Binghamton and we took her out to dinner at a restaurant to celebrate their anniversary. As they celebrated that day I couldn’t help but think what a difficult year they had lived through. The year before, Mom had entered the hospital on Palm Sunday and ended up having an operation on her bowel. After weeks in the hospital she was moved to a Nursing Home in Endicott on the day before my parents 59th wedding Anniversary. The staff their served a special dinner for the two of them to mark the occasion. It made it very special for them. Sadly to say my Mom remained their only a few days and ended up going back to the hospital for a second operation. Her recovery was very slow as there were more complications that occurred during the operation. After more weeks in the hospital Mom went to the Nursing Home in Binghamton shortly before 9/11/2001. I was never sure how much she comprehended the tragedy of that day as she was on strong pain medicine. But through it all my Father visited her everyday to be at her side.
As time went on Mom seemed to be getting worse rather than better. She seemed to be so out of it. I felt that she was receiving too much pain medication and talked to the doctor at the Nursing Home. She, the doctor, asked me who took care of my Mom at home before she was hospitalized. I said she took care of herself! That made me realize that she had been moved around so much in the hospitals and nursing homes that people didn’t know what her baseline was before her illness. The doctor began cutting back on her pain medications and Mom began to improve slowly so when their 60th Anniversary came we were able to take her to a restaurant to celebrate. She continued to improve and that July she was back in our home in Newark Valley with my Dad! She even made it to a 4th of July party!
Mom only lived three months longer but she was delighted to live them at home where she celebrated her 80th birthday on October 7th. She made a delicious lunch that day for her brother and his wife who stopped by to visit her. It was a special day. Little did we realize her end was near. She went back to the hospital again and this time they were not able to operate. She died on October 10th a few minutes before midnight with my Dad, my sister, Sharon, and myself at her side. It was a peaceful death. I have always thought she didn’t want to die on my brother, David’s birthday, which is October 11th, so she was happy to die before midnight.
The last year and a half of my parents 60 years of marriage was a very difficult one for my Mom and Dad. But the witness they gave me of their love and care that had for each other will always be with me. Dad travelled 18 miles each day to be with her and back again and when she came home he helped her in so many ways that allowed them to be together for their final months. They lived out the vows they had made on their wedding day, “I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.”
As we journey together during this difficult time dealing with the coronavirus, may we remember the words of Jesus and the promise the Father made to us who believe. “For this is the will of my Father that everyone who see the Son and believes in him may have eternal life and I shall raise him on the last day says the Lord.” Jn6:40 God’s blessings and peace, Father Bill