Terry’s Thoughts (T2):
The past few weeks have been extremely difficult for me with the sudden passing of my mother…my mom, Dorothy W. Bryant. The last words that I heard her say was “I Love You.” These are words that I will never hear again from her lips. I had just reached a point where I was no longer upset with the month of April as 35 years ago on April 15th, my father left this earth. Now, 35 years and 8 days later, my mother joined him. Wow…I didn’t see that coming nor expected it so soon.
To know my mom was to know that she loved helping people and loved talking. Boy, did she love talking. When I would have to travel somewhere by vehicle by myself, I could always call her, and she would talk me either to the location or back (sometimes both) without me having to say too much. She would ride virtual “shotgun” with me and keep me abreast of what was going on back home. From graduations and weddings to funerals and births, mom would tell me what I needed to know to still feel a part of the community. I would appreciate this as this was her attempt to help me still feel that IF I wanted to come back, I could fit in as I never left. From time to time, she would ask me if I was planning on coming back and my answer would always be the same: “I don’t know. If God leads me back here, I guess I will be back.” I never thought that I would come back, but at the same time, I never ruled it out. I just didn’t know.
One of the things that I enjoyed most about my mother is that as the oldest of all her siblings, she took it upon herself to make sure that the family always had a place to gather together during the holidays. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, mom always wanted to have something at her house and didn’t want to be anywhere else. She would start planning weeks before the holiday and tell me all the things that she was going to cook and bake for those that she either knew were going to come by or those that she thought might come by (and most of the time, she was right.) Last year, I called her and told her that we were coming home for Thanksgiving and I would be doing all the cooking. She could still bake (I had to let her do something or she wouldn’t agree to it), but I was cooking dinner. While I was working in the kitchen, she sat back and laughed and talked and bragged about how I was cooking Thanksgiving dinner and wouldn’t let her cook and she was happy that I did it for her. Although she tried to get family member to come visit with me, this trip was all about spending time with her. After almost a decade of having to work during the holidays, I was finally able to spend it with her.
The loss of a parent is painful in its own right, but when one does not have any siblings to lean upon during these times, it can be extremely painful and sorrowful. Yet, there is one thing that in spite of all our trials and tribulations, sorrows and triumphs, that I can say: my mother knew who her Lord and Savior was. I can take comfort in my time of sorrow and pain to know that she is in the Father’s presence and singing with the choir invisible. She is praising God in her glorified body with those of like precious faith. Although I will miss my mom and wanted to spend more time with her on this side of the river Jordan, I cannot help but think that she is enjoying herself without the pain and cares that this world brings. One day, I will see her again (hopefully not too soon) and we will have the ultimate family reunion. But until that time comes, I am left with many memories to pass on to my family and to cherish in my heart.
Mom, you slipped out on me and a lot of other people. You were ready to leave but didn’t give anyone enough time to try to talk you out of wanting to go. You said “good bye” to those who heard it and said “I love you” to those who would feel the pain the most. Your laugh and smile will always remain in my heart and my mind. You will always be a part of me as I was a part of you. Your memory will live on and your legacy will endure through those whom you touched throughout the years.
Loving you always.
Your son, Terry
Mother-in-law relationships are a tricky dynamic. The fact that I’ll be a mother-in-law in 2 months makes me more aware of what Terry’s mom, Ms. Dorothy must have been going through upon being introduced to me for the first time as the woman Terry wanted to marry. She was kind, but cautious and rightfully so. I didn’t want to force myself on her. I tried to let things develop organically. Ultimately, a mom wants a woman who loves and honors her son and I was sure that, over time, she’d see that. I assumed that we’d have (more) time.
This year in January, when Terry turned a year older, I felt a strong urge to write his mother a thank you note. I tried to talk myself out of it a few times, thinking I should wait until Mother’s Day to send her a note. I’m so glad I did finally send it off a few days after Terry’s birthday. I started off telling her how I’m sure it must be weird to be receiving a greeting from me when it was Terry’s birthday, not hers. I told her, that as a mom, I know how much work and dedication goes into raising a man/child. I thanked her for raising such a wonderful and gentle man. I told her how much I appreciate her persistence in making sure that his lessons in chivalry were embedded into his brain. In response, I received a card from her, thanking me for my letter. She expressed how much it moved her and how she read it several times and it comforted her.
I’m guessing Ms. Dorothy’s love language was words of affirmation. She always sent cards to people she loved for special occupations and she had a knack for picking out the perfect card. The last card we received from her was an Anniversary card in March. When we called to thank her, I commented on how perfect it was! She revealed that she had picked it out shortly after our wedding the year before. When I glance over at that card now, it means so much, yet it reminds me that I’ll never receive a card from her again.
On April 24th, when we finally came to terms with the fact that Ms. Dorothy had passed away suddenly, my first thought was “I’m so glad we got married when we did and she was able to see Terry happy.” My second was, “I was so glad that I sent her the letter and expressed to her how much I value her only child.” We packed quick and drove to South Carolina. As we walked in the house, I looked around and my brain flooded with thoughts. Ms. Dorothy was a great host. The beds to the guest rooms were made and the rooms were cleaned and decorated with her touch of love. She had all types of stationary and cards she kept on hand to send to people for special occasions. She was so thoughtful and it showed in every corner of her home. Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Ms. Dorothy made people feel loved, important, and comfortable and she has inspired me to do the same. I never told Terry about the letter I sent to his mom when I sent it. We didn’t talk about it until this week when he let me know that in going through his mom’s important documents, he found the letter I wrote to her. Had I waited until Mother’s Day to honor her, it would have been too late. Tell those you love that you do. Do it often; say it in numerous ways. Make those around you feel important, comfortable, and loved.