My mother-in-law passed away the night before the Super Blood Wolf Moon, on the coldest, windiest day of the month so far this year of 2019. We joked that it was her, leaving the Earth and making her ascension into Heaven. That was Claudette, making the ultimate exit.
I had spent the better part of the previous week, sitting by her bedside where she resided on hospice, awaiting her final destination. So poetic then, as it turned out, she waited until the day everyone was gone except for my husband Dave, and the hospice nurse, Denise. He knew the exact moment she went to be with God. Now she is with her husband Robert, her son Charlie and her sister Wanda, not to mention all of her family and friends who passed on before her.
Similarly, in 2014 when my own mom passed, it was me who spent the majority of the time with her in her last month of her life, yet it was Dad’s hand she was holding as she took her last breath.
This whole day has seemed so surreal, we had prearranged all the cremation and burial details, pretty much taken care of the important accounts and bills, so we just pretty much carried on like any normal Saturday…except….it wasn’t. Finally, I suggested to Dave that he should spend some time with his brother, Bubba, before he had to go back to Houston for work. Turns out, that was a good decision. They did some reminiscing, and talked about important issues before he was to head out on Sunday.
It felt wrong to pray for God to take her home, yet I was not the only one who did it. I thanked Him when he did, my prayer was answered and now she is no longer suffering, safe in the arms of Jesus.
As we sat discussing details about her belongings and what our plans were, I snapped a picture of David with his baby blanket so I would have some type of memory to share of the day and how strange it felt not gathering with family, yet I know the time will come when we are all together.
Unlike many husbands wives, I always got along with Claudette, she was such an easy-going lady with a quick smile, good temperament, and nothing mean to say about anyone. I loved her and spending time with her. She was generous and kind, and had many friends, lots of them visited her while she was in the hospital and the nursing home where she was placed on hospice. We always did Christmas Eve at her house and I will cherish the memories of family eating great food and gathering to play the game of the Chinese gift exchange.
We will have lots of pictures to go through to pick the most special ones for her memory reel at the memorial, but I have my favorite that I took one day not long ago as she sat on my couch visiting for a Sunday dinner. Her smile is so big, this was before she got started on her chemo and still had her own hair. She looks happy and beautiful, not to mention, quite stylish in her sparkly jeans, her beloved Paco by her side as always. Luckily, we were able to get Paco adopted, and that gave her peace of mind in her final days.
Yesterday, we did gather with some of our family and after dinner, Dave showed Chris some of the old pics he found on MoMo’s computer and we told him about how after going through some paperwork, we discovered her actual birthday is the 23rd of July, not the 24th, which is when we always celebrated it. Her dad was also named Arvel, not Orvil, and I’m sure we will learn more interesting details as we make our way through the process of planning her memorial. There is so much forgotten history there.
Isn’t it sad how people like me who were not interested in history, now find themselves wondering who will tell the story of their loved ones when they are gone? How will I tell my Dad’s story, for instance, now that it is almost impossible for him to communicate? Learn from your loved ones, everything you can. Write it down, label pictures. Keep important documents safe. Don’t just love them and live with them day to day. Learn their history so that some day, you can properly share their story with those they loved.
Here are the details that I can remember about Claudette just from knowing her and being married to her son. She was born in July, she loved her kids and grandkids, she was scared of the water (unless she was on a boat), she loved her pets and had been a cat person before she got Danny (her Boston terrier) and then Paco (her chihuahua). There was Puddin, Tigger, and Scooter and many more that I never knew. She was from East Texas where she was raised by her mother, Viola, and lived with her sister Wanda. She liked to scrapbook and put together lots of framed pictures of her kids and grandkids. She suffered with depression. She loved clothes shopping. She used to work as the assistant finance director of the City of North Richland Hills where she made lots of friends who loved and cared about her. She was easy going and fun to be around. She was married to Robert and had three sons, Charlie, Bubba and David, they all lived the majority of the time in Hurst on Bering Street before they had to sell to make room for the mega mall. We spent Christmas Eve at their house and Thanksgiving with Wanda in Wylie before she became too ill to host it anymore. She loved her family and friends and her Marine friends she made when attending the Marine reunions before and after Robert passed away, and they loved her as well.
Please keep our family in your prayers as we struggle to learn to live without her and keep your own family close to your hearts. You never know when their last day will be, so cherish them while they are still here to love.