“… and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you…”
– 1 Thessalonians 4:11

My mom passed away peacefully in her sleep on November 10, 2022, as quietly as the life she lived. I spoke with her a few days before she left, and “I love you” were the last words we shared.
“I don’t know how much more of this I can take,” she quietly whispered to my stepdad a couple of days before she passed. Mom’s liver and kidneys were completely shot; the last two months of her life were spent bedridden and swollen.
“That’s okay Paula, whenever you open your eyes, I’ll be right here,” Senior promised her.
“She rarely ever complains,” he told me when he relayed the story. “I knew then it was close.” Meaning he knew that death was near.

Mom was a quiet person who rarely complained. She wasn’t much of a conversationalist but loved to listen – and loved to laugh. Her favorite times were when we were all together, which wasn’t as often as it probably should have been. And really, that’s all she ever wanted – “…was her for my kids to be okay,” as she would say.

For years I held a grudge against mom for leaving my younger brother and me behind when she finally decided to make the escape from our abusive father. As I matured and learned more about the depression and psychosis she lived with, my resentment lessened but I never learned to forgive until my return to the Lord. It’s faith in Jesus that got me through seeing mom so close to death yet battling her illness to the end. Watching her struggle took me to a dark place, but thankfully I kept hold of the Light – as did she.

“Again, Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12

“What a sad life,” my brothers and I agreed in conversation at lunch one day during my most recent visit. I was wrong – as the Holy Spirit let me know. Hers may have been a sad life by our standards, but God predestined us all. Mom endured to the end, she made her choices, but she was a believer and I’m looking forward to finally getting to know her in eternity.

“God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of
those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity
he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his
children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name,
he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established,
he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.”
– Romans 8:29-30, The Message

“I know it was my fault that our marriage didn’t work out the first time around,” Senior told me again in conversation during our last visit. “I thought your mom was safe after we split, and I have a lot of regret for not making sure of it. She sure is proud of you kids though.”
Mom used to call my older brother Tom, “Tommy” or “Tom Tom,” named after his dad aka Senior, who mom remarried after divorcing my dad.
“You’re really somethin’,” mom used to tell me all the time.
“You’re a real corker,” she would often say to Todd and then laugh. I picture her saying those same things to us while cheering us on from heaven.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith,
let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.
And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”
Hebrews 12:1 – New Living Translation

From what I know of mom’s life, I’ve pieced together that we are a lot alike. I’m not sure what my grandparents’ marriage was like when she was young, but if it was anything like how they were when I was young, it wasn’t good. But somewhere down her family line was faith in the One True God that was shared – in some form or another. I know this because mom passed down a Bible to me but I’m not sure of when. I don’t remember seeing it before our move five years ago, so I believe it was given to me with some things when mom and Senior moved from their home around the same time. I asked mom about the Bible not long ago.
“It’s grandpa’s mom’s Bible,” I shared with her. “I think it’s grandma’s writing on the Post-it® that says she was born in 1875. It has some old obituaries folded into some of the pages.”
“I don’t remember it,” she responded, “that’s strange.”
It reminded me of a time when I had once stored away a Bible that had been gifted to me then forgotten about it. Thankfully, God never forgets about us.

“But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.”  
– Isaiah 64:8

Photo by Regiane Tosatti on www.pexels.com