Friday, February 19, 2010

The day the music died.

February 19, 2001 - That is the day that my mother, Sherrie Ann Hall, died. She lost a long and hard-fought battle with ovarian cancer. It was 9 years ago today. For the last 9 years, I have hated the month of February for that very reason. I wear a pin with her picture on it every year to remind me. I am often solemn and depressed. I actually want people to ask me about the pin so that I can share with them about my mother. Maybe so people will feel sorry for me...I don't know. For 9 years I have let what happened at 7:45 pm on Monday, Feb 19, 2001 be a defining part of my life. BUT THAT STOPS NOW! I love my Mama with all my heart. But I realized, just today, that living in the past and dredging up all that hurt and sorrow and anger doesn't honor her memory. It just brings me and my family down. I don't want to live in the past. Not everyone has to know that both of my parents are dead. It has nothing to do with who I am or who God made me to be. I have a family of my own to take care of. It would be much more honoring to my mom if I would take good care of myself and them. She would fuss at me if I didn't. So, just a few minutes ago, I took off the pin that has her and Daddy's picture on it, told them both that I love them, and put it down on my dresser. I am going to tell the story of that sad yet joyful day one more time...then I am going to move on with my life.

It was around 4am. I was in bed in my house in Sugar Hill, GA when my phone rang. Phones ringing at odd hours are never a good sign to begin with. This was twice as bad. I had been holding my breath every time the phone rang for the last several weeks since Dr. Landis told my mom there was nothing more he could do for her. Luckily, each time had been an amiable phone call....until now.
It was my dad. Mom felt like she was going (she was very in tune with her own body) and wanted us there with her. So I left Steven and Joshua, who was only 5 months old at the time, and made the 45 minute drive to our house in Snellville where I grew up. Garalyn was already there when I got there.
We had called in Hospice after Dr. Landis gave us the news. They were helping us keep Mama comfortable until her time came. They had provided a hospital bed which we had in the family room in place of the loveseat. That's where she had been for weeks. She was sitting on the side of it when I got there. We all sat there with her. She gave each one of us a hug and told us how much she loved us. She was weak so it was all in a whisper. It didn't matter. I heard her loud and clear. She started to get weak, so she laid down on the bed. I pulled out a Bible and we read Proverbs 31 out loud and cried together. (It was read at her mother's funeral.) From there, it was just a waiting game.
We all just sat around the house. She was resting, attached to an oxygen tank. I had a chair next to her bed and was doing crossword puzzles, I think. She just laid there. At one point, she sat up a bit, grabbed my arm and tried to speak to me. But I couldn't understand her. I felt so bad. I just kept saying, "What Mama? I don't understand." Then she stopped and laid back in the bed. That was the last thing she ever said. It wasn't until later that I realized she was saying, "Daddy...comatose". That may seem strange, but you have to know the whole story. Her father died of cancer in 1985. He went into a coma like state and was "alive" several hours before he actually stopped breathing. That's the way she stayed for the rest of the day. She was trying to tell me not to worry. She could feel it coming on and just wanted me to know. She laid there, lifeless. Her eyes were open but there was no spark there anymore. She was breathing, but her soul was gone.
By that point her sisters and other family had started coming around. We had called them so everyone could say their final goodbyes. Steven had come by and brought Joshua. Garalyn had Shayne for a bit. But it was started to get later and wanted to take her home. She didn't want Shayne to see her Granna like that. I think, to this day, Garalyn wishes she would have stayed.
It was about 7:45pm. My dad was sitting in the rocking chair just halfway across the room from where mom lay, comatose. I was sitting on the floor with my head in his lap. My Aunt Nell was sitting on the couch next to my mom. Then, it happened.
Aunt Nell said, "Gary....I don't think she is breathing." Daddy and I both rushed to her bed. It was true. He fighting body had finally given up and stopped trying to survive. Even though we knew all day that it was coming, it took us by surprise. We both broke down and cried. I can remember bending over her and screaming, "Who's going to teach me to be a mom?" That was only the 2nd time in my life I had seen my dad cry. We were devastated. Daddy got on the phone and called Garalyn and told her to come back. All the family came back as well. There was lots of crying and hugging. I couldn't believe my mom was gone.
Soon, the funeral home came for her body and took her away. People lingered around to see what they could do and talk about old times. Everyone was finally gone sometime after midnight. Garalyn and I spent the night there with Daddy. I didn't want to leave him. I'm sure he went to bed crying. How do you move on when the person you've spent most of your life with is suddenly gone?
Anyway....that's it. That's how my mom died. Long, yes. Sorry. I figured the more details I give, I would get it out of my system and be able to move on. I think it helped. (Maybe one day I'll have to do this about other things in my life too!) My greatest sorrow is that my mom will never know my kids and my kids will never know my mom. She loved being a grandmother. Even though she was only Granna for a short time. I tell them stories all the time and there are pictures of her in my house.
I can only hope and pray that I will be as good a mom to my kids as she was to me. I LOVE YOU, MAMA! I MISS YOU! I'LL SEE YOU SOON!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Elijah grows up....and snow!

Well, it finally happened. Elijah, at the age of "still 4, Mom", has dressed himself! For quite some time now I have been coaching him on how to take his clothes off and put clothes on. He caught on just enough to pull his pants up and down to go to the bathroom. But everything else was "Mommy, help me!" (I was really getting frustrated. As most moms know, "can you child manipulate his/her clothing?" is one of those dr. check up question that you are tempted to lie about so the dr doesn't think you are a terrible mother. But it's just been easier for me to dress him and get us on our way.)
But today, while folding his laundry, I got him to pick out his clothes (even though he pulled pants from the dirty clothes basket) and dress himself from shirt to socks. It's about time! He took off his pjs and put on his clothes all by himself. He got frustrated a few times (and so did I) but he did it! Now...if I can just get him to keep doing it!

Also, there was snow over the weekend. After living in Montana for years, not that big of a deal to me, but it is to the kids. They were hoping school would be cancelled on Friday. Nope! But everything was white when they got off the bus at 4pm that afternoon. They enjoyed playing in it that afternoon and the next morning. They all got together with the neighbor kids and went sledding down our yards, our street, and made snowmen. Even Elijah (yes, I have the right kid) went sledding. Well, only once. He got in the sled and I sort of "accidentally" pushed him down the hill. He loved it! "Mom, I went backwards! And so fast. That was awesome!" said the 4-year old. Well, let's do it again! I carried the sled back up the hill for him. As he was getting in it, it slipped out from under him and he fell in the snow. I couldn't get him to sled down the hill again after that. He resorted, instead, to running down the hill over and over again chasing the people who were sledding. What's the difference? I don't know. But I stopped trying to figure out his child logic a while ago.

Zach and Joshua had no fear. Joshua was getting up some great speed down the street. And Zach was the first one to just plop down in the snow and make a snow angel. It was fun to watch. I'm so glad we live where we do. Lots of hills (great for snow) and lots of kids (great for friends)! I (yes I) even sledded down the hill once or twice. And so did Steven. More than I can say my mom and dad ever did with us when we were kids. But again, this is Georgia. Snow doesn't come along that often.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


February 4, 1947 in Meridian, mom was born. Thursday, February 19, 2001 at 7:45 pm in Snellville, GA, lying in a hospital bed in the middle of the living room I grew up mom died.

This has been a tough day for me for almost 9 years now. I try to turn it around and make it positive and celebrate the wonderful life that my mom lived. She was a fantastic lady. She was friendly, outspoken, sold out to Jesus, and a fighter. She was also, of course, a great mom! But it makes me sad that she is not here for me to celebrate her birthday. The last birthday I celebrated with her was her 54th. We had a party for her at my house in Sugar Hill. She was so weak and frail at that point. My first son was only 5 months old. If I remember correctly, Garalyn made her famous peanut butter cake, but I don't even think Mama ate any. She seemed distant the entire time. I knew she didn't feel well, but we had battled with that for 4 years and learned how to roll with it. Little did I know that the following week her doctor would tell her there was nothing more he could do for her and we would call in Hospice to help make her comfortable until she went to be with Jesus. I didn't know then that it would be the last birthday I would spend with her. I miss her a lot! She never got to know my kids. They would have loved her! And vice versa!

But thank God that she was born 63 years ago, met and married my dad and had me and my sister. I LOVE YOU MAMA! I'll see you again soon enough.