Monday, October 1, 2012

See You In The Morning


~Appeared in the Charleston Gazette - Sunday, April 25, 2010~ 

It was almost Christmas when my friend passed away. She had been seriously ill for a while, but we’re never ready to let go of someone we care about. She was loved by many. She had two grown children, three grandchildren and numerous friends – and a sense of humor like no other.

I first met Dot twenty- two years ago when her son proposed to my daughter. The date was set for New Year’s Eve. The parents of the groom hosted a wedding rehearsal dinner where our families met and got acquainted, aware that we would forever be connected through our children and future grandchildren.

Soon after the wedding, the young couple left for their new home in Michigan – a long way from our home in West Virginia. Our new son-in-law had recently been transferred there with the promise that he’d be relocated closer to home in a couple of years. My daughter had never been away from home except for short visits with friends. I hated the thought of her living that far away, but knew I had to let go no matter how much it hurt.

They left on Saturday and by Monday morning, I was missing her terribly. As I sat by the window looking out at the cold, gray January day – watching the snow fall and wiping tears from my eyes, the phone rang. It was her! It was so good to hear her sweet voice. I could tell she was shedding a few tears, too. She tried to be cheerful, but it was impossible to hide her homesickness from me.

Before we hung up, she suggested I phone her new mother-in-law. That proved to be a great idea. Shortly after we said, “Good-bye,” I dialed Dot’s number. I knew right away it wouldn’t be our last conversation. She was easy to talk to and laughter came easily and often during our long chat. We found that we had much in common. We discussed our families, movies, books, and even religion and politics… two subjects we’re warned never to broach with anyone unless we’ve known them at least a lifetime!

After that, we talked often. When our kids announced that we’d soon be grandmothers, we had even more to discuss. We both already enjoyed that title, but this would be the first time we shared a grandchild. Months later, when we received news of complications that may cause the baby to arrive ten weeks early, the two of us and my younger daughter headed for Michigan. Driving all night, we arrived at the hospital about seven a.m. worried and exhausted.

My daughter had not delivered the baby, but had undergone an appendectomy. After much testing, her doctors had decided that her appendix may be the problem, and hoped surgery wouldn’t induce labor. But we no sooner got to her house, planning to clean up and get some rest, when the doctor phoned to say that labor had begun. Concerned, we rushed back to the hospital. Our grandson was born at 2: am, weighing only 3 pounds, 3 ounces.

His chances of survival were uncertain at first. It was a tearful time, but when his dad touched the tiny hand and it closed tightly around his finger, we knew that God had no intention of taking this child! Not only did he survive the premature birth, but also surgery for a heart defect soon after. Three years later, his little sister was born, without complication. Everyone was elated.

Our son-in-law eventually got the transfer he’d been promised, putting them only three and a half hours away instead of eight. They visited every holiday, sharing the time with each of us. We came to know and love our grandchildren as we watched them grow. Sometimes, Dot traveled with my husband and me to visit them and we enjoyed our time together, never running out of conversation or laughter.

Then one bleak January evening, Dot was alone talking to a friend on the phone when she abruptly stopped talking, prompting her friend to check on her. Opening the door as far as possible with the chain lock on, she saw Dot lying on the floor, unconscious. She quickly called 911 and Dot was taken to the hospital where it was discovered that she had an aortic aneurysm. Surgery took hours and waiting was stressful for her family. News of Dot’s illness spread fast and dozens of friends stopped by to inquire and offer best wishes.

Therapy and recovery were long and difficult but Dot was finally well enough to go home with her daughter. However, discovering that she felt uneasy leaving her mother alone while she worked, her daughter was forced to find a suitable Assisted Living Facility and move her mother into it. Dot was not happy about the move but had no choice. In time, other ailments plagued her – one right after the other until she ultimately landed in the hospital after a minor heart attack caused a fall and injuries. She never returned to the Assisted Living Home. Instead, she was transported to a Hospice House and died in early December.

Dot and I shared a great deal in those twenty-two years. There were tears of joy when our children married, anxious tears when we thought we might lose our premature grandson – jubilation when we didn’t – and celebration when his sister was born.

Dot came to see me in the hospital when I had a potentially serious illness. When I got home, she didn’t just send “a” get well card; she sent one every day for a week or more! She empathized when my mother died, and we each listened tirelessly when the other vented about things that will remain “our secrets” forever. We laughed, too – finding amusement in almost every situation.

I visited Dot a few days before she died. It was heartbreaking seeing her so frail. But her demeanor hadn’t changed. Ever the lady, she managed to smile, touch my hand and say, "Thank you for visiting."

I miss Dot, but there is one consolation: So real is the promise of the believer’s resurrection that the physical death of a Christian is called “sleep.” After Lazarus had died, Jesus told his disciples, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, that I may awaken him." (John 11:11)

Remembering Dot, I sometimes whisper, “Good night dear friend. See you in the morning!”

2 comments:

  1. Beautiful story Peggy. Sad, too. Very nice post.

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  2. This is so beauatiful! You and Dot were really good friends to each other. What a shame you lost her. Great post Peg!

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