Who knew we would be speaking so matter-of-factly. Together in a funeral parlor, my sister and I stood our ground about Mom’s wishes. No way were we going to back down and let Dad choose the paper prayer cards. Mom needed and deserved the best of everything. If ever there were a reason and a time to go to battle for our Mother, it was today, Valentine’s Day. The day she left us. A little after midnight.
Just after my cousin shouted out next to her hospital bed that it was time for her to go because Aunt Jo had just passed. My mom was not going anywhere without her sister. With Mom in hospice care at home (which was amazing, by the way) and her sister Josephine (a/k/a Shia, Jo, Aunt Jo, etc.), simultaneously in good care at a hospice center, the essence and truth of sisterly bonds became increasingly evident to us. Especially this weekend. Aunt Jo led the way. An hour before Mom.
After we offered to go out of pocket ourselves and pay the measly buck a piece for laminated cards, Dad spitefully (really) agreed. Before that, we were debating on which prayer card mom would want. We choose the Garden Gate illustration, and Dad chose Mary of Guadalupe. It all sounds very petty, I know. But at that moment, and I have to admit, it still is an important discussion, time stood still until an illustration was agreed upon. So, Garden Gate it will be for the thank you notes the funeral home has to offer, and laminated Mary of Guadalupe prayer cards for all! Ironically, we found Mom’s prayer card collection in her bedroom closet upon returning home, and guess what we found? The prayer card for my grandfather. My mom’s father. The one she fondly referred to as–and say it with a South Jersey accent–“Diaddy.” Wouldn’t you know it? Like God made little red apples: Mary of Guadalupe was on the front of his prayer cards too. So, as my cousin put it best, and not exactly in these words, but to have my Mom leave us on Valentine’s Day is so apropos. She was a chocolate fiend, I tell you! Always about big hugs and kisses and giving and sharing and kisses and hugs and Dark Chocolate Covered Dove vanilla ice cream bars, and giant Hershey Bars and Jelly Donuts and enjoying talking over dunked Stella Dora toasted biscotti in a cup of her delicious coffee, and hugs and kisses and so much more.