Friday, January 13th, 2012, my Dear 85 year old Mother passed away at around 6 pm PST. She was a sweet and simple person, who did not deserve the hard life that she lived.
Born in Japan, and living in a suburb of Hiroshima, she witnessed the devastation of an Atomic bomb. After the war, she married my father in an arranged marriage, and came to the United States, where she worked at my father's grocery store.
She loved and admired my father and had 5 children whom she adored.
She had been bedridden for the past 15 years. She still had her mind, but her body was not cooperating. Yet it didn't seem to affect her outlook on life. There is a term in Japanese, "shoganai." It basically means "Oh well, that's the way it is."
3 years ago almost to the day, she suffered the first of two distinct strokes. The first one left her without speech and movement on her right side. But she still had her mind. Though she could no longer verbally communicate with us, we knew that she comprehended what was going on. When we told her that she would be going home after a long stay in convalescent care, she cried tears of happiness. During summer, when figs were in season, she seemed to relish the taste of her favorite fruit.
She seem to keep waiting for the day when she would wake up and be able to function again. It did not happen.
About 2 years ago, she had her second distinct stroke. Now she was left unable to move, and we were no longer able to discern whether or not she could see and/or hear. There seemed to be times when she could, and times when I wondered if she was aware of anything. This past fig season, she did not seem to realize that she was eating her favorite fruit.
Four days prior to her death, she seem to have a complete change in her health. She was "normal" in the morning, and by evening, she was ill. In the hospital, she was found to have pneumonia and a small heart attack. For a day or two, she seemed to stabilize. On the third night, it seemed to me that she was not getting better, but she also was not getting worse. By the fourth night, she slipped away.
As a believer in God, I believe that she is in a better place, that her soul is free from the confines of her physical being.
Yet this comfort barely eases my own selfish pain. Although I had thought that she, in essence, had already died, it is still painful to lose her. It has been a very long time since she has had the ability to do anything, and I imagine her now frolicking in fields. I think about the time she walked me to my very first day of school. And I think of the time I didn't want to go to school and she tried her darnedest to wake me. I faked that I was asleep, so she gave up and kissed me on the cheek and left.
So while she laid in the hospital bed, no longer able to wake, I stroked her hair for the last time, told her I was leaving, and kissed her on her cheek and left.
Peacefully at sleep now, I pray that you wake in Heaven and are free of all burdens.