7 Years Ago

IMG_2007(Mom at 43 holding me)

I woke up this morning at 5 and couldn’t go back to sleep.  I was thinking about 7 years ago.  It was quite the week.

My mother at age 90 was fading fast.  My siblings had been staying with her during her recovery so Laurie and I were making the 8 hour drive down on a Friday night to see her for probably the last time.  She had been staying in a Macomb, IL hospital and we had just passed through around midnight when my brother called.  Mom had just passed.  We turned the car around and went to see her.

She was so thin in her hospital gown lying there with a  strained face from her last gasping breath.  Just a shell of her former self.  We spent some quiet time alone with her before my siblings arrived.

The next day it was funeral plans and calls to our older children to let them know Grandma was gone.  Caton told Calvin, Mom’s favorite grandson.


On Monday Caton’s former girlfriend was giving birth to their child, Kinsley.   It was hard.  It was the pain of childbirth in a different context.  She was his but he wasn’t allowed keep her.  She would be given to a lovely young couple in an open adoption the next day.  One week later we would meet her for the first time.

Later that day was shopping for the younger kids to pick out funeral clothes.  While picking up outfits and to make matters worse, the mall caught on fire causing an evacuation.

Morgan was graduating from Northview High on Tuesday and the ceremony was at Sunshine Community Church.  We were all there to celebrate her through our sadness.


Afterwards, we jumped in cars and headed back south to Carthage for the funeral on Wednesday.  Carthage, IL.  The town where Mom graduated high school, had her first date with Dad, volunteered for the hospital auxiliary, rode in the parade as Gold Star mother and spent her last remaining years.

In addition to family Mom loved horses.  She was just as comfortable on a trail ride upon her mare as she was driving a team of horses.  She made sure I got a pony as soon as I was old enough.  That’s me on Silver.


And she loved her garden full of flowers with her roses in bloom.  On the day of her funeral I was the last to leave the parlor.  I was holding my youngest son, Major, knowing he would grow up never knowing her.  At the gravesite they give each of her children a yellow rose.  When we got back to her house we started the sad task of going through her things.  My brother, Dale, had sent Mom a dozen roses from Viet Nam for Mother’s Day.   We found one pressed in the pages of her bible that promises resurrection.  Later I walked out to her much smaller garden and found a single rose in bloom.

Back to Michigan and back to Sunshine again because it was Dallas’ turn to graduate.  He was a Junior at Creston but tested out of some classes and with a fuller load graduated early.  I don’t remember if we even took pictures because we had to hurry back home for the double open house for him and Morgan.

It was a crazy, celebratory and sad week.  I don’t think we breathed.  I know we didn’t fully take in all that was happening.  The death of a grandparent juxtaposed with the birth of a grandbaby.  One amplified the other.  Time passages and time standing still.  Emotions all over the place.

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 5.48.40 AM

This morning I watched the DVD of Mom’s life that the funeral home gave us on that day 7 years ago.  As the tears rolled I was struck once again with the passage of time.  I remembered that she was once young and happy.  Her laugh would fill the room and her pride for her children and grandchildren presided over everything.  She worked hard and tended to her responsibilities with the same care as her rose garden.

Yesterday, we celebrated another daughter, Madison, who just graduated from Northview High.  We were all there at Sunshine once again.  7 years ago Madison was 10.


Tomorrow Caton, who has been dating a girl strangely enough born in Macomb, goes to see Kinsley dance at her recital for the first time.  Every year since her birth we get together for Kinsley’s birthday.  Next week we will celebrate  #7.

Now the sun is up.  The day is ready to deliver whatever it will bring.  And I will breathe it in.  I am ready to receive it for I am strong and happy and thankful for my life.  And as I think about Mom I look out and see our roses are in full bloom.



Published by: Jeff Vance

After 53 years of life I begin again. After 45 years in the church I've left. After 31 years of marriage I'm happier than ever. After 23 years in radio I try a new career. After 12 children I'm tired. After 2 years of writing I'm discovering.

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