Sharing stories of a Mother’s last words

On the morning I learned that my thirty-four-year-old mother had died, May 24, 1954, my dad also shared with me her last words. He said, “Your mother’s last words were that she hoped you will grow up to be a wonderful woman.” My mother’s last words, as relayed by my father, are the one detail of her death I remember with precise clarity. They became a beacon of hope in my life because they said to me, “My mom thought of me at the end. She loved me. I was special to her.”

“Wonderful” can be interrupted in many ways, so I had a broad palette with which to fulfill my mother’s last request. As an eight-year-old, I started with the meaning, “Be a good girl.” Children chisel behavior down to good and bad without nuance.

Sixty-five years later, I define “wonderful” as a person who glorifies God by living life to the fullest, caring about others, and striving to leave the world better than I found it.

As I interviewed over fifty motherless daughters for my book, “Mom’s Gone, Now What?” I talked with other women who had last words stories to share. One was Vicki, a long-time friend who lost her creative, adventuresome mother to Alzheimer’s. This is Vicki’s last words story.
“I must tell you this one last story about my mother. My mom was very passive and hadn’t spoken for about two years. However, one day while I was visiting her—just sitting with her really—she turned, looked straight at me and said, ‘I love you, Vicki.’ I was stunned for a moment, and then I realized she had given me a precious good-bye gift.”

Do you have a last words story? How willing are you to share stories about your mother loss experience?

I learned that telling my story, even after so many years, made a difference in my life and the lives of others. I hope you too will gain insight and understanding of yourself and others as you tell or retell your story to people you trust.
Jerome Bruner, psychologist, once said, “The eagerness to tell one’s story signals a desire to live.” As we tell our mother loss stories we affirm not only our desire to live, but to thrive. We share so others can benefit from our experience and we learn about ourselves in the telling.

Source:                        With permission

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