Death and New Life

Marguerite Loose

Marguerite Loose

My mother passed away on Saturday.  Here are some excerpts from her obituary:

She was born September 30, 1913 on a farm outside Lismore, MN.  Her father, John Conrad Graf, informed her mother, C. Mae Graf the baby simply couldn’t be born that day because a crew of thrashers was due to arrive that morning to harvest the grain and Mae needed to feed the crew.  Asserting her independence, Mae delivered a beautiful daughter and Conrad and his mother-in-law took over the cooking duties.

            Marguerite graduated from Adrian High School in 1930 and Mankato State Teachers College in 1937 with a degree in Education.  Her first teaching assignment in a one-room schoolhouse out on the prairie was nearly her last but she stuck it out and became an extraordinary and much-beloved teacher.

            Marguerite moved to Mt. Morris, Michigan in 1942 to accept a teaching position.  .  She taught 2nd and 3rd grades in the Mt. Morris, Michigan School District for 35 years.  Many in the Mt.Morris community passed through her classroom and many of those would return years later, showing up on her doorstep with their own children to have them meet the woman who had introduced them to the wonders of learning.

           Marguerite was a woman who strove for excellence in all things, loved her Lord with all her heart, had a great sense of humor, and was the matriarch of her extended family.  She was an active member of her home church, First Baptist Church of Mt. Morris, MI and served there as a Deaconess. After moving to Pennsylvania, she joined the Country & Town Baptist Church of Mechanicsburg.   Her passions included reading, photography, making friends, traveling, and enjoying family.  The motto she lived by was “Look up, Laugh, Love, and Lift.”

I didn’t sleep much from Friday night into Saturday.  In fact, I’d been awake since 3:30 that morning.  I finally gave up and rose to take a shower around 6 am.  When I got out of the shower, the Commander knocked on the door and handed me the phone.  “It’s the nursing home,” he said.

It was the news that I had been dreading.  The head nurse was calling to tell me that Mom had just passed away at 6:10 a.m.

“It was peaceful,” he reassured me.  “We gave her some more pain medicine and then came back to sit with her when her breaths just became shallower and shallower until she slipped away.”

Mom after 1st big stroke on Mother's Day 2007

Mom after 1st big stroke on Mother’s Day 2007

I begin to quietly cry.  “What should I do now?” I ask, and then I apologize, saying, “I’m sorry.  I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do.  He gently suggests that I give them some time to prepare Mom’s body and then to come to the nursing home as planned.

By now, everyone at our house is up and we all process this news in different ways.  My daughter heads to the shower.  I shut myself in the bedroom and hug the dog, crying into her fur.  The Commander fries up hashbrowns.  Our son-in-law hovers nearby, waiting to help as needed.  Eventually we are all ready and we head out.

At the nursing home, I stop at the nurse’s station to let them know that we are there.  They offer their condolences and then tell us that we can go in to spend as much time as we’d like with her.  The funeral home will have someone by to pick up the body in about a half hour.  I walk down the hall and into her room and glance at her bed.  Oh, my…..this corpse on the bed is not my mother.  I can’t even go near it.  I am so glad that I spent time with her the previous day because I can’t recognize any essence of my mom in the body on that bed.  She’s gone.  I turn and walk blindly across the room to her roommate’s bed.

“Who’s there?” asks June.

“It’s Marguerite’s daughter,” I tell her.  “Mom passed away this morning,” I continue and begin to cry.

“I’m so sorry,” she says and reaches for my hand.

The chaplain arrives with the funeral director and they suggest that we wait in the lobby while they transfer the body to the gurney.  They’ll come get us when it is time for the last honorary procession down the halls and to the exit.

A woman of excellence

A woman of excellence

Soon they wheel the gurney down the hall.  It’s draped with a white embroidered liturgical cloth.  Various nurses and other staff members file behind.  At the front door, the chaplain invites our family and the workers to lay our hands on the cloth as he leads us in prayer.  I find myself wondering if I’m looking at Mom’s head or her feet.  For some reason, it seems important to know.  Then she is wheeled out to the transport vehicle.

The chaplain urges us to take as much time as we need before worrying about clearing out Mom’s belongings.  I don’t want to wait.  I need something to do and I tell him that so he heads off to find some boxes for us.  With all of us working, it doesn’t take long to clear out all of her things.

In the meantime, the nurses have come in to get June dressed.  She is giving them fits.  Finally they give up and leave, hoping to give us some peace and quiet to finish our task.  That’s not to be.  June is on a roll.  Now she’s convinced that thieves are stealing her belongings.  I am bothered by her confusion, not because it is annoying me but because I hate to see her fearful.  I keep poking my head through her curtains and assuring her that it is just us and that we are only taking my mother’s things.  It works for a bit but then she starts on  a new tirade about the staff stealing her belongings and what is wrong with the young people today that makes them so dishonest to do such a thing.  I keep looking in on her to try to assure her this isn’t the case.  I finally just resort to telling her that I’ll keep watch and make sure no one takes her things.  The Commander keeps pulling my arm to try to bring me back over to Mom’s side but it just seems important that I bring comfort to SOMEONE on this terrible day.

And then it is over.  Mom’s last seven years have been reduced to three trash bags and four big cardboard boxes.  We load up the van and head out.

“I think I need some crisp bacon,” I say.  We look at each other and say, “Waffle House.”  It seems fitting that we comfort ourselves in the traditional “Loose” manner – with food.  Our waitress is unusually buoyant and chipper.  She keeps remarking on what a fantastic, beautiful, great day it is.  I don’t rain on her parade.

 

Looking Heavenward

Looking Heavenward

In a way, it IS a beautiful, fantastic day.  Mom is greeting Grandma and my dad and who knows what other relatives in Heaven.  She’s seeing Jesus face-to-face.  Her aches are gone and she’s in a new, glorified body. She’s been a good and faithful servant and now she’s answered that final roll call.    As a sister in Christ, I rejoice for her.  As her daughter, I need this time to mourn.  I miss you, Mama!

 

 

 

 

 

  • karyn hutchinson

    Thank you for sharing yourself, Dee. Isn’t it wonderful, the hope we have that takes away the finality of death?

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