Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Miss you, Mom

It's been twelve years—twelve years this week—since she left. Her name was Peggy Haywood, and she was my mom.

The phone rang early that morning; it was a Saturday. I could immediately sense the alarm in my dad's voice, as he explained that my mom was extremely lethargic and even a bit delirious. She'd had a cold all week, but it had worsened to the point that he asked me to meet him at the emergency room.

My mind raced, but time slowed as I drove that thirty miles to the hospital. Surely things couldn't be that bad, but why did he feel the need to call me? Oh, well. I'm sure she's just worn down, and she'll get some good medication and be as good as new.

My dad met me as I entered the E.R., and we quickly walked back to where she lay on a gurney. I had expected to be able to talk to her, to reassure her, but that wasn't what I encountered. Her eyes were wide open, but she didn't speak. I've never witnessed eternity reflected in a person's eyes; they seemed focused, literally, on everything. She didn't look at me; she looked far beyond me, and at that point I knew... I knew she was dying.

All I could do was choke out a few words, telling her she'd be okay, as they wheeled my mom into the Intensive Care Unit. Please mom, just hang in there. I'm not ready for this. After the gurney disappeared around the corner, the doctor approached my dad and me. My knees nearly buckled as she verbalized my fear; my mother's body was battling profound sepsis and her chances of survival were extremely slim.

She passed away a few hours later.

I don't remember why, but I returned to my parents' house later on, alone. As I entered my childhood home, my mom was everywhere. Her partially opened purse sat next to her favorite recliner, her People magazines stacked neatly beside it. I collapsed into her chair and sobbed emphatically, just saying her name over and over and over again. I may have stayed in that chair for thirty seconds, or an hour or four hours; I have no idea.

At that point, things moved very quickly. Everyone was still in severe shock, but so many arrangements had to be made. The minister at her church asked if any of us wanted to say any words about her at the funeral. Really? You're asking me to sum up the person who shaped me into who I am, who devoted her very existence to her children, into a few words? My anger, of course was completely displaced, but it burned nonetheless.

A few days passed, and through the overwhelming sadness, I sat at my computer to compose something for the pastor to read. I knew I couldn't read it myself, no matter how brief it was. Her traumatic death still lingered heavily with everyone, but I felt compelled to write a simple poem to describe this remarkable woman:

You taught me what a friend is.
Then you were my first friend.
Crayons, open faced jelly sandwiches.
I insisted on planting a garden on the side of the house.
You painted a sign that said "Tim's Garden."
We played catch.
You got me that Daniel Boone hat that I had to have.
I wore it twice.
We talked.
You usually talked more.
I'm still not sure if you really were asked to sing in the Metropolitan Opera.
And that you had to refuse, saying, "No, my family comes first."
Your orange wedges always tasted best at my soccer games.
I wish I could have one more hug.
One more Christmas Eve.
One more People Magazine with the crossword puzzle already done.
One more time to tell you how much I love you.

I miss you, Mom.


  1. I'm sorry to hear of your loss Tim. This was beautiful and I thank you for sharing your mom with us.

  2. I miss my Dad too. Thanks for sharing your story Tim.

  3. You're a brave soul, and a good one. I'm gonna remember this post for a long time.