This is Part 2 of a recent interview which was conducted in conjunction with the upcoming Christian Authors Festival to be held at the Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library, 4100 Virginia Beach Blvd., in Virginia Beach, VA on Saturday, March 18 from 12:45 – 3:15 PM. Part 1 can be read here.
Along with other local Christian authors, I will be exhibiting and selling/signing my new book, “Memories in a Daughter’s Heart.” And all attendees will have a chance to win free autographed books from some of the participating authors, including myself. The event is free and open to the public. I hope to see you there!
“What advice would you give someone who’s going through a similar situation such as yours? Whose mom – or dad – is near the end of their life, and neither of you want to acknowledge it.”
Everyone’s situation is a little different. We may realize in our minds what’s going on, but our hearts don’t want to think about it. And as difficult as it is, you need to talk to your parents about their thoughts, their wishes. That’s actually something I couldn’t bring myself to do, and I still regret it to this day. It wouldn’t really have changed anything that happened, but at least I’d have had a chance to know what my mother was thinking and feeling. But I was afraid to ask her. I don’t think I really wanted to accept what was happening. Even though I knew what was coming….
“In your book you talk a lot about how your faith helped get you through your mother’s death. What advice would you give someone who doesn’t have that faith, or whose faith may not be that strong?”
I’ve said for many years I don’t know how anyone can get through the death of a loved one, especially a parent, spouse, or even worse, a child, without faith, without hope. Because you have no comfort without that. If I hadn’t known I’d be reunited one day with my mother, I have no idea how I would’ve survived the first few days. Because I know without a doubt that she’s once again with my father, and her other family members and friends. That is a strong part of my faith, and the faith of my family and many of my friends.
I know…that I know…that I KNOW there will one day be a glorious reunion with all of us.
I discuss this in detail in my book quite a bit, because it’s one of the things that kept me going, and gave me strength. It’s what I held on to. At a time like this sometimes your faith is all you have. We ask God “why?” and there are no answers. None that we want to hear, at least. But God’s word even tells us that we will all pass from this life once, but that we will live on in eternity.
For those whose faith isn’t strong, or who have no faith, I strongly advise talking to someone who’s a believer. Not necessarily always a pastor, although that’s a great place to start. Talk to a friend who’s a believer and let them share their faith with you. I’ve done this many times with women who are hurting, and when they finally realize what I’m saying, their tears of grief are suddenly turned into tears of hope. We all need hope, and my faith is what gives me that hope.
“You included stories of your friends who lost their mothers in your book. What made you decide to do that?”
I didn’t originally plan to do that. But at the time my mother died, I only knew one close girlfriend who had lost her mother. And the way she dealt with it, including speaking at her mother’s memorial service, made a huge impression on me. During the last two weeks of my mother’s life, my friend and I had several conversations about what was going on and how I was feeling, and those talks were a big help and inspiration during that time.
As I thought I was finishing the book, it just hit me how many friends I had who’d been through losing their mothers, and each of them had a different experience, a different story, and a different way they handled it. Not every daughter’s story is the same, so why shouldn’t my book share some of those other stories as well?
I asked some of those close friends who’d had unique experiences during that time if I could use their story, and every one of them was honored that I’d asked for their input. I even included one post on my personal Facebook page about it, and within ten minutes I heard from four other friends who volunteered their stories as well. And let me tell you, those particular stories I had never heard, and they were heart wrenching. But I knew by including them I could give advice and guidance, and yes, comfort, to other daughters who may have gone through similar experiences. The book wouldn’t be complete without them.
“One last question. I’ve heard comments from adult children, as I’m sure you have, about how they really don’t want to go visit their elderly parents very much because “it’s too much trouble,” or it interferes with something else they want to do, or “it’s just too hard to watch them age like that.” What is your reaction to statements like that?”
My first thought is, “Oh my gosh, you have no idea what you’re saying! No idea how lucky you are that they’re still around to visit! Because one day you’ll not have them, and you’ll wish so much you had just one more day….
They don’t realize what they’re saying.
I could say they’re being selfish, but I’m not sure that’s totally it. I just don’t think they understand that life is short. I don’t think they completely realize that tomorrow their parent could be gone, and they wouldn’t have any more opportunities to visit, to talk, to share their lives.
It’s just not something we think about at the time. Because our parents are still with us, and it never crosses our mind how fragile life is. Tomorrow is not promised. Not for us, or for our parents. But we’ve all been guilty of this at one time or another; we’ve all said we don’t really want to go visit when we’re supposed to, because we want to do something else. It’s just human nature. And it doesn’t make it right.
One day though, we’re going to be those parents who want our kids to visit, and they’re not going to want to come. And we’ll think back to these days and say, “now we know….”
My advice…don’t be complacent. Don’t take your parents for granted if you’re lucky enough to still have them. Because one day tomorrow may be too late. Visits are too short. Regrets last a lifetime. And you really don’t want to face any of those regrets.