“I’m sorry Anita, I’m sorry” my heart dropped, my hands were shaking as tears formed. It totally shocked me to hear those words come from mother’s mouth, as she laid on her death bed suffering with Alzheimer’s in 2001. She though it necessary to repent so I finally heard her say she was sorry for all the horrible things that happened to me while growing up. The feeling of being alone, not feeling loved or wanted, no protection, the abuse from older siblings, one of her male friends coming on to me and her not believing me, along with the sexual molestation from my sister Denise.
Mom wanted her children to keep her at home during her last days, as she battled with complications of Alzheimer. She expressed fears of being in a nursing home but because of her mean spirit, I told her that was where she would be.
Mary, a 5ft 4in 200lbs, surly, short tempered, African-American woman, was an only child from Oklahoma, married a tall dark handsome man who had many siblings, and they left for Tucson. With 11 children, a divorce, they both fellowshipped at the same Baptist church until he passed away in 1989.
Due to the illness mom believed she was a good mother which I gleamed through conversation and vain babbling. The truth of the matter was, she had to be one of the worse mothers I had seen. We were abused physically, verbally and emotionally. This abuse consisted of being hit with an extension cord, shoes, broom sticks, threatened with hammers, and pulling a gun on one of my sisters and brothers, periodically thrown out the house, yes even at the age of thirteen. Hearing mom say she only wanted four kids.
On two separate occasions mom allowed her male friends to live with us. A woman who had young girls and boys. This experience was interesting to say the least, old men gawking at you during an simple walk throughout the house, and making sly little comments that insinuate they want more.
Affection was obsolete in the Phifer household, unless someone passed away which you know happens in three’s. So I guess you can say about every three or four years we received three hugs. Lol, I know I am laughing but its true. I can laugh at many of these incidents now, but the truth of the matter is, I didn’t receive affection from my mother. Affection is a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend. Love and affection are interconnected in many ways yet differ in many aspects. Affection is the first step towards love; love is a combination of mental, emotional, physical and spiritual mystic attachment to a person. Affection is when a person adores someone or something. Even a encouraging word from time to time from our loved ones can make all the difference in a child’s life.
There was a feeling time was she would soon be leaving her earthly home, so the day before mom passed, I washed her up, brushed her hair and placed her dentures in her mouth because I wanted her mouth to look natural as much as possible when she passed, I sang “My soul loves Jesus” and I read her favorite scripture Psalm 23.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
I prayed and told her it was okay, because she seem to struggle a bit. On Sunday September 9, 2001 I woke with a headache, I saw mom and grandma for a few moments. She seem to still have peaches in her mouth from when my sister Darrell fed her breakfast. I swept the peaches out of her mouth. I walked the house, which appeared to have a strangeness in the atmosphere. Grandma was sitting in the living room and I told my daughter Courtney if something happened to mom, I needed her to be strong. I laid back down to help rid myself of the headache.
When I got up a couple hours later, I checked on mom. I could hear what I believe was the death rattle. Terminal respiratory secretions (or simply terminal secretions), known colloquially as a death rattle, are sounds often produced by someone who is near death as a result of fluids such as saliva and bronchial secretions accumulating in the throat and upper chest.
I called a few friends, and couldn’t reach any of them. I then called my sister Darrell, no answer. She finally arrived to the house and made herself comfortable. I decided to take a shower in mom’s bathroom, as I went in, she appeared to still be alive. I showered, ran to my room to get dressed, but when I returned to mom’s room she had passed away. I immediately rolled her bed down so that she would lay flat. Fixed the covers to make sure all was well for those coming to say their goodbyes. She looked natural, as if she was just sleeping.
We began to call sibling and friends to inform them as to what happened. The mortuary was called, and we waited for hours before they showed. Many arrived to see mom, and finally the mortuary arrived. The gurney could only go down the hallway but not go into the room. My brother Don had to assist the mortician to take mom out the room and onto the gurney. They rolled her down the hallway which must have been about 100 feet. At they got to the dining room, my sister Darrell pat mom on the shoulders and gave the cue to take her.
A part of me seem to die that day. But there was also healing that took place because of the apology I had the great pleasure of hearing a week prior. It was the most pivotal point of my life thus far. Forgiveness is essential in all of our lives. Whether we are giving or on the receiving end. I forgave my mother, I knew she was sincere. The earth stood still for me that day! It is vital that we encourage ourselves in any given situation. Good or bad, do yourself a favor and forgive those who have wronged you.
Never be afraid to apologize, it can be a healing tool for you as well as for the other person receiving the apology. Scriptures tell us that God wants us to forgive, so that we too can be forgiven. “I’m sorry” has to be the most powerful words on the planet, along with “I love you”. Don’t allow pride to inhibit you.
ENCOURAGE YOURSELF: Encourage yourself in the Lord, which is what I have done throughout my life. Through the good, and through the bad. But I chose to seek counseling, but more importantly I chose GOD. My Rock, My Fortress, My Healer.