The passing of my mother came sudden and less than ten days past. Roiling emotions cascaded through me in the quiet moments of each day, wave after painful wave. She tried to last, her spirit fighting on–I believe in my heart, she knew I was coming. The last-ditch effort to keep her alive came to a sudden, agonizing stop. She died one hour before my plane landed in Dallas, Texas.
When I asked for an update, my brother said it was too much to put into text. He said he’d FaceTime once I got through immigration. It wasn’t until I passed the metal detectors that the call came. My dad, my brothers, sister, and most of their spouses, lined the room, and the dirk that slipped white-hot in my gut, twisted. It was here, in Dallas International Airport, that I learned my mother had died. I tried not to break down in the airport, to wail in the despair, the guilt I felt. I held it in, releasing silent, body-shaking tears. I didn’t care what the passerby saw, just so long as they didn’t try to console or detain me. I had to get to San Antonio, then New Braunfels–to see her, to say goodbye.
I was on the first flight out, and less than thirty hours after she took a turn for the worse, she left this earth. In twenty-eight days, from her first little blip of trouble, she submitted her spirit. The debate of whether I should have come or not came up numerous times, and in all fairness, her health improved in rapid succession. A full recovery lay just fourteen days away. This plot twist that life threw came up cruel, dirty, and abrupt.
The cliche saying comes to mind, “Life is precious, spend your time with loved ones.” No one understands this until it happens to them. The irony is how the tried and true maxim is appropriate. Some ask, what is the meaning of life? I don’t know, at least in the philosophical sense, but death gives life meaning, context, a finality. There are consequences in life. Mine will forever be of guilt, having not been there for her in the final moments. I take solace in knowing that she did not suffer, did not linger in between.
My family asked me to write her obituary, and after some input, it almost wrote itself. I hope she is proud of her children, the people who loved her and came to celebrate her life. I could write a tome on the relationship I had with her, the good and bad, the things I did not know. And maybe someday I will, but for now, the wound is fresh, and the salt of such prospects still stings.
Mother’s Obituary: (Please note that names have been redacted/taken out on purpose).
With the deepest sorrow, the Carpenter family reports the passing of Kay Carpenter (66), beloved wife and loving mother. The long-time Wimberley resident joined her Maker at 3:41 p.m. on October 30th due to unexpected health complications. She fought valiantly to survive and held out for as long as she could. Kay Carpenter was born in south Texas to her father, a successful farmer, and her mother, a school teacher. Kay grew up in a southern Texas town. During her childhood, she became an accomplished pianist and singer. Kay attended Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in Spanish. Part of her employment started as a professional secretary for various companies, but later in her adult life, she was primarily a partner with her husband at (their business). Wherever Kay worked, traded, or patronized, she touched many lives over the decades. Though she participated in diverse ministries, she was a founding member of a (specific) church and always considered it her home. She held numerous roles for many people and affiliations, but none compared to being a helpmate to her husband, a devoted homemaker for her children, a caring aunt, and an affectionate Nana.
She discovered a passion in her life, the joy of painting–as Bob Ross would say–and set out to master the craft in her late twenties with the aid of longtime and current instructor and mentor Betty Ritchie. This commitment to artistry has filled many homes and businesses with paintings and Christmas cards. Later, she would go on to spread happiness with her delectable cakes, cookies, and pies with Kay’s Kreations. Her love of cooking, painting, and music passed on to her children, a fitting tribute to her talents. One pastime that brought great pleasure in her life came from gardening, a dedication imparted by her mother-in-law. The pink rose became a cherished staple, often cultivating it herself. Kay took great solace in watching her children flourish and pursue their own passions and careers in the medical field, aviation, entrepreneurship, and writing.
In life, only her love for God could rival the devotion she had for her family. She is preceded in death by her parents and an older brother but survived by her husband of thirty-three years. The two wed on February 17th, 1985. The couple would grow together in their love and commitment for each other. Her four children–and their spouses–live on as witnesses and extensions of her grace and decorum. Like every mother, she loved her children, but her fervor manifested in her ten grandkids. Her family ensures her memory echoes long after her light has left this world. Her lineage, which spans the great state of Texas and the globe, surpassing ethnicities and nationalities, will continue for generations with her four children, their spouses, her ten grandkids, and a host of nieces and nephews as an aunt and great aunt. Kay is also survived by her three sisters, her brother, and her beloved sisters-in-law.
2 thoughts on “Death’s Purpose; Life’s Meaning”
Of course I don’t “like” the grief you’re going through, but you penned an excellent tribute to an outstanding woman. I have no doubt that Mom would be—and was—deeply proud.
You and your family remain on my mind and in my prayers. Much love from your Oki writing partners and friends.
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Thanks. Miss you guys.