Scarred by Scandal ~ Redeemed by Love

Excerpt — Chapter 14, Page 255

           During the third week of October 1993, Mama’s tiny, ninety-seven pound body lay still, her dark eyes closed, and her shiny gray hair framed her face.  She had been at Berryman Convalescent Home in Whittier for seven weeks and was unaware that Berryman had become a meeting place for her five-generation family.   Soon we would be only four.            

           At one point, I counted twenty-four visitors to Mama’s room in three days and feared number twenty-five might cause the supervising nurse to restrict any more visits.  But he understood and the quiet visits continued.

           At times, it seemed as though Mama had stopped responding.  Yet, as soon as she sensed or heard one of her grandchildren enter the room, her eyes opened and the trace of a smile creased her face.  The day before she died, her grandson, Justin, whom she hadn’t seen for a long while, quietly entered the room, walked toward her bed and gently reached for her hand.  Her eyes fluttered open and when she saw him, said, “Justin, where have you been?”  Though her voice was weak, her words were clear and she knew exactly who was standing near her.  As Justin leaned closer, she reached toward him, cupped his face in her hands and lovingly scolded, “Why haven’t you come to see me?  You were so near and you didn’t come to see me.”

           Regardless of how near to death she was, there was no doubt.  Mama recognized, if only for a fleeting moment, almost every member of her family who came to the convalescent home.  With one exception:  she had never seen her newest great-great-granddaughter, GenaLeah, a baby girl born into the fifth generation of our family.  Her mother Lori, Jon’s daughter, had brought her from Northern California to say good-bye.      

*  *  *

           Without words, without explanations, we all knew that Mama left a rich legacy – not tangible or material – simply, intrinsically, she left a legacy of love.  That’s what Mama did best.  She loved us with more than her presence.  She loved us with her essence.

           Mama died quietly, peacefully with Ruben by her side on the morning of October 21, 1993.