I Can Always Count On Mom

1-woman_and_dogAs Katie watched the cars go by she attempted to remain relatively calm. Even though she was in a great deal of pain she recognized the sheer determination that had come to her aid all her life, and it was kicking into full throttle. Her husband had left her alone and pregnant and her child was ready to be born regardless of the situation. She stood as the bus approached praying that she would make it on time. After maneuvering into a seat she tried to relax even if it was only briefly. Her contractions were becoming closer and closer. In spite of her strength and independence Katie longed for her mother’s guidance and reassurance. She barely remembered her mother since she had lost her at such a young age but she instinctively knew how big a difference it would have made to have her here. She battled against the cramped space and once again rose to her feet. Thankfully this was her stop.

Katie gave birth to a healthy baby boy and named him Ray. As soon as she cradled him in her arms nothing else mattered. No matter what she would never be alone again. The love between mother and child was nearly tangible. She didn’t have any family there to welcome Ray into the world but her friend Jim did show up. He came as soon as he found out and was eager to be a supportive friend. Jim and Katie had been friends and he cared very much about her welfare. He felt compelled by his affection for her to take care of them as best he could. When Katie left the hospital she had her son in her arms and Jim by her side. Thankful for the extra moral and emotional support, she was confident everything was going to be just fine.

Jim kept his promise and continued to be there. Ray was growing by leaps and bounds and Katie proved to be a wonderful mother. She adored her son and Jim had proven to be an answered prayer. As circumstances would have it though, Jim joined the army and was sent to Germany. While he was gone Katie took the opportunity to better her chances for the future. She enrolled in nursing school and found that she was quite adept at it. Excelling to the top of the class she was both proud and excited. However, since she had never graduated high school, the nursing school would not allow her to continue.

Katie was a determined individual though and was not going to allow anyone to1-green_rosary_beads_3 hold her back. She applied for jobs and one application in particular asked if she could type. Although she couldn’t, she didn’t hesitate to mark yes. Promptly leaving the job interview she went straight to the store, bought a typewriter, got a book and learned that very weekend how to type. Her dedication paid off because the following week she got the job! She continued working even after Jim returned from Germany. They decided to get married in 1952, and in 1953 had their daughter, Renee. It wasn’t long before they welcomed a third child into the family, a healthy baby boy named Vince.

Katie soon discovered she was pregnant again and elated with the news. Then the doctor threw her a curve ball that was totally unexpected. She was carrying twins. Initially the news overwhelmed her but she quickly embraced the concept and eagerly awaited their arrival. She gave birth to twin boys, Michael and Steven, but tragically, they both passed only a few days later. She was devastated beyond belief. As a mother, the bond had already developed during the time she carried them and losing them broke her heart. She became engulfed in a sea of sadness and no words of encouragement could stem the flow of tears that marked this dark time in her life.
Although the loss was difficult for Katie she wasn’t one to shirk responsibilities. Pulling herself together for her children’s sake, she pushed the depression deep into her soul and moved forward. The opportunity came up for her to get in on the ground floor at Campbell Clinic when it opened. Jumping at the chance, she threw herself into the job as a surgical nurse in orthopedics and had no regrets. With positive determination she handled being a professional and a mother, maintaining a healthy balance between the two. With a sense of pride and accomplishment she watched her children grow into adulthood. However, the time had come when she and Jim decided it best to part ways and in 1974 they divorced.

Three years later Katie met Raymond Nelson. He was a WWII vet and their friendship grew. They discovered that they had a great deal in common and in 1977 she married him. Together they had a home built in Crenshaw, Mississippi and named it Honeysuckle Hill. Katie retired from St. Jude where she was employed as an EEG technician, to enjoy her new home in the country. The house was built on a large amount of land where they planted and grew things. They loved animals, especially dogs, and they had plenty of room to have a few. Looking back on her life Katie appreciated every step that had led her to this point. She may have had a difficult childhood but she chose to see the good in people and turn negative situations into positive ones. At last she was rewarded with a peaceful contentment that she richly deserved.

Sadly, Katie’s world changed when she began suffering from Alzheimer’s, which is a particularly difficult disease for loved ones to deal with. Because of its nature, and the way it affects a patient, comforting trips down memory lane are no longer possible. Patients often don’t recognize the ones they love making it difficult to act on emotional bonds that have been nurtured over years. Katie made many friends over her lifetime and she had family that loved her dearly. When it all ended on August 16, 2008 many people mourned her loss, especially her children.

For Renee, in particular, losing her mother was very difficult. Katie had always been such a positive and nurturing influence on her. She had already lost her father. Now the only parent she had left was gone as well. Renee felt a void that even with time would be difficult to heal. Having 3 children of her own she knew that life must continue on, and she faced it one day at a time. She stayed busy with work and her children and before she knew it more than a year had passed.

It was Thanksgiving night 2009, and Buddy, an 11 year old pit bull terrier had fallen ill. He had been with the family a long time and was like another child to Renee. Watching him get progressively worse she frantically called around searching for a vet, but everyone was closed because of the holiday. Finally she located one that was open and took him there. She had no choice but to leave him in their care. Trying to remain optimistic, Renee hoped Buddy would return home on Saturday.

Much to her disappointment the vet called Saturday and said that Buddy had begun having seizures. His condition had digressed to the point that they would have to make a quality-of-life decision for him. Sadness filled the house when Renee explained what was going on to her kids. She then quietly said a prayer to her mother. Katie and Buddy had been best of friends while she was alive and she truly loved him. Renee felt it very appropriate to ask her mother to please come and take Buddy home to heaven so he wouldn’t suffer any more. She didn’t want to have to make the decision to put him to sleep. As they were preparing to leave, the vet called and told her Buddy had passed away. Renee quietly thanked her mom for answering her prayer. She then told the vet that they wanted to come and get him so they could bury him at home.

The family climbed into the car with heads hung low and tears in their eyes. They retrieved their beloved Buddy and brought him back to the house. It was cold outside and Renee’s son was going to dig the grave. He got the shovel and went around to the back gate forgetting it was padlocked. He came back in the house and told his mother that he needed the key. However, it had been moved from its usual place. Everyone began searching for it. Renee’s daughter Jennifer opened up the box her mother kept in the dining room. She searched inside and found a pair of green rosary beads that Katie had given to Renee, and a few other things, but no key. She closed the box and put it back where she had found it. Finally the key was located and they proceeded with Buddy’s burial.

Afterwards, everyone was sitting at the kitchen table talking and Renee noticed her green rosary beads sitting on the counter next to the microwave. She asked her children if one of them had left the beads sitting there. Everyone replied no. Jennifer spoke up and told her that she had seen them in the box when she was looking for the key but she never took them out. That’s when her daughter-in-law spoke up, “Maybe it’s divine intervention.” All Renee could do was smile and nod in agreement. She knew in her heart that her mother had been there. The rosary beads held a strong emotional tie to her mother and that’s why she believed Katie used them to convey the simple message to her that Buddy was safe, secure and happy.

Although it was difficult for Renee to say goodbye to a pet that was more like a child to her, it eased her pain knowing that he was in the capable hands of someone that loved him as much as she did. Even though she already missed Buddy she was thankful that he was not alone. For Renee, there could be no other explanation for how those beads moved from inside the box to the counter top without assistance from anyone else in the house. The sign itself was amazing but the most significant thing she gained was the knowledge that her mother was still close by. Renee felt she had lost her mother forever when she passed away. Now she knew Katie was aware of everything going on in her life and was relieved to have her mother’s love so near.