My mother, Jordan Elizabeth Sanderson, whom you have already met if you have read my
first book, A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir and I were very close and had a lot of significant and not so significant conversations over the sixty-eight years that I knew her. My mother let her first two children, who were very close in age, raise themselves and then she lost two babies in a still birth and death shortly after birth. So by the time I came into the picture she had decided that she would raise me with a very watchful eye. Control me a bit? Well, that is the way it felt. She used to say that I was hard to parent because I would defy her. I don’t remember it that way. Still, all in all we did have some wonderful conversations over the years. I always thought that she knew everything there was to know and it is only with time that I have learned that it was I who would get us started on some idea that took us into interesting thoughts and concepts. In retrospect, my mother talked people and I talked ideas, but at least she could be the other side of the conversation. My husband, Sy had that same ability. I miss that from both of them.
Mother was a person who didn’t usually make waves or question the status quo. So when she came to live with Sy and me she had lost touch with the fact that sometimes I take a topic and want to look at it from a different perspective. Mother lived with us for seven years and passed away four months short of her ninety-ninth birthday. As her ability to follow a conversation became less clear we would go around topics many times. Several
times when my sister PollyAnne came with her husband to visit with my mother at our home, we would get into conversations about what happened to you when you died. I knew my mother was very concerned about this new journey ahead of her and my sister understood this also so we would tag team talking to Mother about our beliefs about the afterlife. PollyAnne had an aneurysm when she was in her late forties and the surgery was successful. But during the time she was in the operating room she had a near-death experience, which she kept to herself for a long time. By the time my mother was in need of this information Polly and I had talked several times about her journey to the other side.
This particular day I was tending to my mother’s needs in her bedroom and somehow the conversation about death came up. This time I was by myself with my mother and so said, “Mom, are you afraid of what lies ahead for you?”
“Oh, no, I’m not afraid.”
“Well, you may not be afraid of dying but something is making your hands shake more than usual.”
My mother looked down at her hands and then back at me. “I don’t know why they are doing that; I’m really not afraid of death.”
“Okay, Mom,” I said, “I’ve been counseling people long enough to know that the body doesn’t lie but sometimes the mouth says what it believes the other person wants to hear.”
“I suppose that could be,” she responded.
“Are you afraid of the worms crawling all over your body and devouring it, or are you afraid of the dirt thrown in your face when you are put in the ground?”
She suddenly seemed very small to me and she replied softly, “The dirt in my face. I’m afraid of the dirt in my face.”
At this point I began to tell her once again about the fact that I believed at the point of death her soul would escape her body and be free to go to wherever the afterlife is and that she would likely go through the tunnel to the light just as PollyAnne had described to her. That when she got there she would meet her father for the first time, connect again with her mother, and be able to hold my father’s hand once again. She didn’t need to be afraid because she wouldn’t be able to feel any dirt being thrown in her face and she would be free of her body so she could watch at a distance. In a while after doing her life’s review she would be free to wander the earth, see any of the countries she had missed on her travels after my father died, and also be free to come and visit with any of her children and grandchildren.
In a very soft voice she said, “I hope you are right.”
“I believe I am,” I responded. But I could see she was still struggling with something.
“What is bothering, Mom?” I asked.
“Will you know when I’m here? I’m afraid you won’t be able to hear me when I talk to you.”
“I believe, Mom, of all of your children I will be the most likely to hear. I may not always know exactly what you have said but you will be able to hear me and I will talk to you.”
We were in a hotel, Sy, I, Felicia and her children, in a city close to where my mother was to be buried. I’m in our bathroom struggling to put on my stockings when the light over the tub blinks on and then off, then on and off and on again. Without even thinking I said, “Its okay, Mom, we are not going to be late for your funeral.” That is spooky enough, but when Felicia came out of the other hotel room into the hall and then realized she had forgotten something, she turned to go back into her room, and the wall sconce about her head blinked on and off and on again. Now, I had not had a chance to say anything to Felicia but without skipping a beat she looked up at the sconce and said, “It’s alright Gramma. We won’t be late for your funeral!”
I believe that was my mother’s first attempt to try out what I had told her and she appears to have decided I knew what I was talking about because she often comes to visit me especially in my office where I have the softest luxury blanket that she held at the very end of her life, giving her I hope, a little comfort as she crossed over. She often blinks that light, and lately, she had a distinctive body odor in life, and sometimes I also smell that when I am in my bedroom. We still talk!!
If you have had connections like this with loved ones who have passed over I would like to hear your stories. People need to know that their loved ones are not gone, just changed in form and they use a different means of communication.