I had great intentions – I wanted to do a big blowout Mother’s Day post to celebrate my mom. I knew it would be a challenge to convey exactly what she means to me, to all of us, to the entire community actually (and by community, I don’t mean just Logan, but the greater community – the people she’s touched in Mexico and South America and Thailand and in all those foreign countries to which she’s traveled on mission trips, and in Amarillo where she’s worked at City Church or donated piles of used items to the homeless and battered, and to. . .well, the list is endless, and not to be contained in one little blog post. Suffice it to say my mom’s community stretches far and wide).
I thought about this post a couple of months ago and made some notes and had some ideas, and then one day about four weeks ago, after she’d had bronchitis and difficulty sleeping and breathing and had even let Viola and I clean her house because she was tired (unheard of!), she called me on a Tuesday morning and told me her doctor was admitting her to ICU at Baptist St. Anthony because “my heart’s not acting right this morning.”
I don’t plan to get maudlin or tear-wrenching (okay, just because writing that down makes me cry doesn’t mean it has to have that effect on everyone. . .), but we were all stunned. Kent and Klee and Belinda and I dropped everything else in our lives and headed to Amarillo to stand vigil in that ICU waiting room with my Dad (okay, more sitting than standing. . .). Our world basically stopped spinning when they hooked her up to that oxygen and that heart monitor.
My mom is a do-er. She’s the person with the coffee pot on at all hours, with company sitting at her kitchen table, with someone in her shop ordering flowers or buying gifts. She’s feeding the high school youth group at church every Wednesday night -after cooking all afternoon for them. She’s planning the Christmas shoebox program where we send gift boxes around the world to children in poverty. She’s packing a bag to fly to Bangkok to spend two weeks talking to Buddhists about Jesus. She’s the person in charge of all our family dinners these days, the person sorting through boxes of junk that someone has dropped off at her house for the mission. Her days are filled with activity, and seeing her in that ICU bed, pale and worn out, with the doctor telling us she had congestive heart failure was like trying to understand a foreign language. It didn’t work for us.
But we did what she has been training us to do our entire lives. We sprang into action (after countless hours of waiting for them to test and medicate and then eventually release her after five days in ICU). We became the caregivers in her life, monitoring her activity, buying her decaf (now THAT was crazy), helping her in the shop, planning a kitchen remodel to make her life simpler in the long run, cleaning her house again. And this past weekend, for Mother’s Day, my sisters-in law and my sister and I and my niece Brianna did almost all the flower arranging for her floral shop, Terry’s of Logan.
So I haven’t had time to think about this blog post again – I’ve been too busy worrying and then waiting and then doing, and it’s only now that things have slightly slowed down, and after I looked at all these old Mother’s Day cards that she found last week, that I have the time and inspiration to say what I’ve been thinking about my mom, Betty Louise Ayres Terry. And I find that there aren’t really words – not anything adequate to describe who she is to so many people.
Maybe at another time I can articulate it better, but right now I feel like we’ve all been through the wringer of action and emotion. Suffice it to say that when the doctor said she had congestive heart failure (which, after all, is very treatable as long as she – and we – take good care of her), I laid awake that night in the room I was sharing with Johanna at the La Quinta in Amarillo – and I thought to myself, “It’s because she’s given so much of her heart away all these years!”
I know that’s not the clinical explanation, and I know that she might scoff at that, and what I want to convey is that I certainly don’t resent that fact. In fact I’m proud that her spirit has always been so giving. She and my Dad are the most generous people I know. They’re always quick to tell us there won’t be anything for us to inherit because they plan to give it all away before they go. Instead I think it’s a good thing – after spending her life taking care of the universe, she gets to sit back and take it easy and let all of us take care of her. If doing that keeps me from writing a few blog posts for several weeks, that’s fine with me.
So Happy Belated Mother’s Day mom. I’m who I am because of you and Dad. Sit back and let us make your life as easy as you have for the rest of us. I’ll get the coffee. . .as long as it’s decaf!
And by the way, Happy Anniversary! (May 12 is my parent’s 60th anniversary. And they’re still nuts about each other. Now that, my friend, is a whole ‘nother blog post. . .)