In loving memory of my mom. From my point of view.
Always on my mind, forever in my heart. Best mom anyone could ask for.
She is my benchmark for a deep and genuine relationship with my Lord. Brave. Committed. Consistent. Strong. Faithful. Spiritual. Loving. Kind. Gentle. Companionate. Patient. Marvelous granny. Good cook. Crafty. Knowledgable. Moral. Upright. Assertive. Fearless. Integruous. Friend. Spiritual Giant!
Towards the end of her life my dear mom did not have it all good. My heart bled for her everyday. She was in a frail care facility for which I am VERY grateful (especially to my big brother Henry who sacrificed much to ensure she received the best care). Mom had glaucoma. She had waited too long to seek help and as a result became legally blind in her 70s. Her and my dad were very blessed to stay in the AGS “Old Age Home” in a lovely apartment in Table view Capetown. They were there for each other for a long time before my dad passed away. Dad was mostly deaf, and would always joke and say “I have the eyes, she had the ears”. But my dear old dad is a subject for another day.
For many many years after dad passed away, the only contact I had with mom was a phone call. She moved to the Frail care facility in Kliprivier, Western Cape. The public phone was about 25 steps away from her room; Often times I would call and no one would answer because the staff was busy taking care of bed baths, medication allotments and/or dinner time. When someone did answer the phone usually they could not (would not) speak english and I battled to get them to understand for whom I was calling. Eventually they’d say, OH Ms Schultz, hou aan, I’ll get her. Then a long, long wait…. then I’d hear her voice coming closer and closer, and then the shuffling, then the search for a chair so she could sit, and then her sweet frail voice… Hello, who is this? Jan, Jan is that you… then through tears she’d tell me how she’d been thinking if me, praying … how were the children… go through each one. It was heart rending to be 10 000 miles away!!
I was enormously blessed to be able to spend 3 weeks with her in South Africa during the last year of her life. a blessed time I will never, ever forget. This is when I really got to know my mom and what she had gone through, and what she had become.
During these last years of her life, there were many limitations that could not be overcome; the biggest one being that the facility was of another faith and language. Yet she never complained about those who would come and care for her who could not (would not) speak english to her. She would smile and just be grateful, kind and forgiving, muddle through whatever it was they were doing for her. She would pray for them.
She was hard of hearing. We had provided a radio/cassette player for her so she could spend the endless days at least listening to some music or listening to tapes of sermons or motivational talks. But what happened was, she could not use the ear phones, so she would have to put it so loud that the entire place was subjected to whatever it was she was listening to. As a result, a nurse would come and unplug it from the wall, so that it would not work…. she’d fiddle with it endlessly and then tell us it was broken. Until my brother Ernest or some kind person would discover the ‘fault’ and plug it in again and so the cycle would start again.
There was a ‘deacon’ from the affiliated church that was assigned to visit with her each week. He was VERY Afrikaans and had a hard time reading to her from her English Bible. But it was a hi-light of her week.
For mom to get around comfortably without her cane, we would stand facing her and we’d link our forearms and we would walk backwards. We joked about it and said we’re “doing the shuffle” again. She preferred just hanging on to us like this rather than using her stick. (besides, we were scared of her with a stick!) lol
Her bed is so high she had to hoist herself up onto it. When she was sitting on it her feet didn’t touch the floor. That was the extent of her daily physical exertion. At least it was something…
While I was there she got me to tidy and sort through her things. It was a very emotional thing for me. Many of the things she thought were there, were not. Only conclusion being that “someone needed it more than her” is what she said. Several sad things I found… my dads papers and lifes “treasures” – of which there were few.
There were two boxes of his belongings that mom had not even looked at since he passed away… some of his treasures… His wallet, his pocket knife, an old clock he’d had since I can remember, his nail cutters… (Choke, sniff).
I also found Many letters unopened, from me, and my niece. The pictures in Lesleys letters were so, so precious. She desperately tried to see them with her 1/2 inch thick glasses and magnifying glass, but she said “there’s not enough light”. She got me to put them on her wall next to her bed where she could touch them.
Mom had her hair washed and styled every Friday. This week dec 4, 09, she had a perm. She wanted to know if it looked good. She also has a Lady come and “do” her nails about once a month. I’m really glad about this. It’s not something people think about, but for the elderly this could be a serious problem. Besides, a girl needs to feel a little pampered and beautiful now and then right?
THE most heart rending thing was that I got to take her to the hospital for her eye check up. This was a ritual that happened about 4 or 5 times a year. Usually the home would call a “taxi” for her and she had to pay. She was so, so happy that her appointment was during my visit. But the sad, sad thing…This was a very very difficult thing for me to see. Moms eyes are way beyond help, but she had to continue to see the specialists in order to keep tabs on the pressure- which would give her severe headaches; and to remove the eye lashes that continue to grow in towards the eye, scratching and irritating the eye ball no end. The pain my poor little mom had to endure during this procedure was excruciating. Even the doctor was apologizing profusely with each eyelash removed. She had to remove about 20 or more.
Mom says: “don’t worry you do your job, and I’ll moan. It’s worth the pain for the relief I will feel tomorrow”.
It saddens my heart at the thought that she has to go through this alone every 2 or 3 months. Oh what a heaviness it is to me that I was so far away, and there was no one to take her.
While I was visiting I “broke mom out” of the frail care Facility (we joked). We treated her like a queen, she said. She was in her element! I put a chair in the shower and she said it was the first shower she’d had in years. She LOVED it.
The most important thing I found was that her face was set as flint towards her Lord. Listening, hearing and interceding for her country, her people, her care givers and her family.
She would talk about her great grandchildren and say don’t forget to teach them “Jesus Loves me this I know”.
I was privileged to be able to ask her some deep questions …. Question: What would be some last words you’d want to say to your loved ones?
Answer: it was wonderful to be your mother and grandmother. I loved to watch you grow and become independent. Seek The Lord with all your strength because He is the guiding light of our lives. Even if you don’t believe, He gave His Son as a sacrifice – it is awesome that we might be fully redeemed. Although we as human beings let Him down so badly, He still stepped up and gave His life. Tell satan to go to hell and take his devils with him!
I love you mom.