My mother, Effie Johnson, has been in the hospital for just over a week now, and today she’s being transferred to Hospice care, either here in the hospital or in a facility not far from here. She’s making her final ascent to heaven, and I’m here, watching, like I’ve done with several family members and a special friend over the years.
I remember my mother and I holding my father’s hands as he passed over into eternity. I felt like I was touching both heaven and earth at the same time. And now, almost eighteen years later, I’m holding my mother’s hand, singing to her and praying with her and trying to comfort her. Today her eyes are glazed over and seem to be fixed on the ceiling—she no longer makes eye contact with me when I talk to her. Her breathing is a bit labored, but she’s on meds for comfort. I’m so thankful to be here with her, watching. I feel that she is saying to me, as Jesus said to his disciples, “stay here and keep watch with me.”
I also strongly feel my father’s presence in the room, and I believe he’s praying for her as well. They were married 49 years before cancer took him at the young age of 68. They were devoted to each other, and taught my husband and I a tradition which we’ve been keeping for almost two decades now: First thing every morning, one of us will say to the other, “This is the day the Lord has made!” and the other will reply, “Let us rejoice and be glad in it!” When we’re apart, like now, we text our secret greeting and reponse: TITDTLHM! LURABGII! (which sounds like this if you say it aloud: “tit diddle hum!” “lurabgi!”) After my father died, mother would say the greeting and response to his photograph in her bedroom every morning. I’ve been showing her this photograph and saying those words to her. I hope it won’t be long now. I hope she is already seeing him in Heaven.