Sports teach children (and should teach adults) how to win humbly and how to lose graciously. Like sports, my mom did just that. Her life was a wonderful, humble win. And her death, though gracious, is a lingering loss.
My mom’s life was joyous and joyful, full of joy bells and a joy to behold. She was highly regarded in life and more than admirable in sickness and death. My mom’s life was warm and wonderful and womanly and winsome. She was faithful and cordial and genial and jovial.
Conversely, her sickness and death were cold and cruel and callous and contemplatable. But in both she showed how, and we learned how. My mom, the great teacher that she was, was always teaching. She taught me how to live AND how to die. It may sound strange, but it’s true. Mom taught me that we don’t have to fear death because she didn’t; she defied it.
We need to learn how to win and how to lose. And that’s the tragedy of modern man. Everyone wants their own way, without thought or notion or compunction for others. My mom was all about giving and caring and sharing and bearing the infirmities of the weak. She was a little lady that could carry ten times her weight. And she did that when she was well and when she was sick. She bore grief and carried sorrow. She endured hardness like a good soldier.
Most admirably and astonishingly, like a great athlete, my mom willed herself to win. And she won herself to victory. Along the way, each victory helped her, some other to win. Even down the stretch, with the end in sight, she would not give in or give up. Her life was an open triumph, and even in death, I believe she was triumphant. Both her life and her death were bookends and bookmarks for her children and grandchildren and any and all others who wish to live and win and lose and die with distinction.
Her life was like a ballad she sung; at once soaring to dizzying heights then suddenly swooping down to the innermost, deepest depth. Her life and her songs defied the odds. How could such a little woman be such a large lady? She defied the doctors, the disease, and even death itself. She was told that her illness and her sickness were incurable. But she didn’t believe it. Not for a minute. Her life was a song of victory that that sang right up until she heard the angels singing.
My mom refused to die, because she was determined to live. She lived with a sinister sickness for almost three years – two years longer than she was supposed to. She was determined to disappoint the devices of the devil and the diagnosis and the declaration of her doctor.
My mom died with dignity, and that’s a quote from her hospice nurse. She was classy without being too sassy; she was elegant and exclusive, stylish and sophisticated. Beauty was within and without. And it is only fitting that she was born and that she died in early spring, when birds can be heard sweetly singing o’er the plains.
And Mom sings on.