My mother passed away today.
At 12:20pm, with my dad by her side, her labored breathing ceased, and God spared her yet another second of pain. I had been by her side, in her bedroom, only minutes earlier, stroking her arm, pressing a cold, wet wash cloth to her forehead, telling her how much I loved her and assuring her that God loves her too. That it was OK to go.
These last few days have made it clear that her time was coming, that she was eager for it to come. "I don't understand why it's taking so long," she said to me on Sunday afternoon. Earlier, she recounted to me and my dad a conversation she'd had with my youngest brother a couple weeks ago, when she said she had lived a full life and she was ready to go. She wanted to be sure we weren't doing anything to prolong her life. We assured her that we weren't; we were only doing what we could to make her as comfortable as possible.
Hospice is an amazing organization. What a blessing.
So this afternoon, as I was unloading the dishwasher in my parents' kitchen, my mother's life ended. This particular chapter of it, anyway. And I am amazed, even though I've heard about this from so many others, by the overwhelming peace and relief I'm experiencing in the midst of the profound sadness. It is one of so many paradoxes that comes with saying goodbye to someone who wasn't really here anymore anyway.
God bless you, Mom. I love you so much, and so does God.
Here is Mom's obituary, drafted by my brother Vern, which will appear in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, and the Washington Observer:
Janet Fulton Maczuzak (nee Hamilton), of North Huntingdon Township, Westmoreland County, Pa., died at home on Tuesday, October 17, 2006 due to complications associated with pancreatic cancer. She was 64 years old.
A loving wife and mother, Mrs. Maczuzak dedicated her life to the comfort and well-being of her family. Born October 24, 1941 in Washington, Pa., to the late David and Frances Hamilton, she was a native of western Pennsylvania, always returning here from living also in suburban Philadelphia, Cleveland, and South Bend, Ind. Mrs. Maczuzak was active in several Presbyterian church congregations and choirs, and was a member of the Sweet Adelines International singing group, most recently of the River Bend Chapter in northern Indiana.
She is survived by her husband of 42 years, John A. Maczuzak, and was the loving mother of Amy of Pittsburgh, John David of North Huntingdon, and Vern of New York, NY; and the devoted grandmother to Kathryn “Katy” Maczuzak. She is also survived by one brother, John Hamilton and his wife Ginny, of Eighty-Four, Pa., and several brothers- and sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews.
Family and friends are invited to call on Thursday, October 19 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and on Friday, October 20 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the James W. Shirley Funeral Home, Inc., 176 Clay Pike, North Huntingdon. Her funeral service and interment will be held on Saturday, October 21 at 10:00 a.m. at Pigeon Creek Presbyterian Church, 45 Church Road, Eighty Four, Pa. (Please come directly to the church on Saturday morning.)
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in her memory to Family Hospice and Palliative Care. http://www.familyhospice.com/donations.htm