So today’s the two year anniversary of my mother’s funeral. And I thought a good way to commemorate it would be to share the story behind this here picture.
If you live in upstate/western New York, you may remember the summer of 2016 had a prolonged drought that went on for many weeks. And it was hot, very, very hot.
In the midst of this we were saying goodbye to my mother.
We were supposed to be on vacation with her. In fact, she had arranged for us all to get together at the beach with part of the proceeds from the sale of her little cape cod house earlier that year. Her health had been failing, but the hope was she’d recover in time to make it. When it became clear that this was not going to happen, my stubborn mother insisted we not cancel the trip, but to go with her blessing, and enjoy each other.
So we did. For 2 beautiful, heartwrenching days. Then we got the call that it was time to come say goodbye. So we gathered around her, all five kids, grandkids and a great grand or two, together…not quite the beach reunion we’d all hoped for, but her heart’s desire had been fulfilled: her whole family was assembled in one place, surrounding her.
But she wasn’t ready to say goodbye just yet.
The final stretch lasted 10 days. Ten days. Ten of the hardest, most painful and most beautiful days that are so difficult to remember but that I never want to forget.
As we were holding vigil, we joked about her stubbornness & remarked that she was probably waiting for it to rain one more time before making her departure to heaven.
The last 24 hours of her life I can only describe as an epic battle right out of a Frank Perretti/Ted Dekker novel (for those of you who aren’t familiar, think Stephen King with a redemptive twist). I will spare you the details, mainly because I don’t want to relive them, but trust me when I say it was as if the gates of hell we’re trying to prevail and launch one final assault against the legacy God had been building up in my mother’s entire life up to that moment. It became so intense that for various reasons most of us, who had not left my mother’s side, were all called in different directions in those final hours.
As the afternoon was winding down, giving way to evening, a sudden and huge thunderstorm erupted. At this point just one of my sisters and one of my brothers remained with my mother. Shortly after the rain dissipated, my sister, knowing the time was short, nonetheless needed to leave to go see my other sister who was at another area hospital with her son since the night before (I told you, EPIC battles).
I was on the phone with her as she was leaving the first hospital enroute to the second, and heard her gasp as she walked out the front door.
“What? What is it?” I asked.
“Oh Nancy, you won’t believe what I’m seeing!”
It was this rainbow.
An hour later my stubborn mother took her last breath here, and her first breath in heaven… In the presence of the Rainmaker, the Rainbow Creator, of Faithfulness personified.
A long, hard road, with a good, good end. Just like her life.
“It’s a long, hard road, with a good, good end. And if I keep on walking past the crooked bend, I will meet my Maker, I will meet my Friend, down the long hard road, with a good, good end…”