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Column: The love that built us

Posted: May 7, 2018 4:40 p.m.
Updated: May 8, 2018 1:00 a.m.

She was ready. She was not afraid. She spoke not of the fear of death, but of the glorious anticipation of eternal life. Her assurance, her faith brought us great peace in her final days. The long goodbye linking nearly 10 years was over. My mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s Disease came to an end on April 13. For a minute, I imagined the amyloid plaques cheering in victory, boasting over yet another one of their victims in this sinister illness. But quickly, I switch back to what is real. Alzheimer’s is not the winner. Mother of four, grandmother of five -- my mother -- she is the ultimate winner and the prize is hers to keep forever.

Her loved ones, those of us left behind will struggle with our sorrowful loss. We will stumble through the stages of grief as best we can. Over time, our spirits will be lifted by an abundance of love-filled memories. We will be comforted by heart-felt words of friends and family, words that will surely heal us. Standing side-by-side at her services, we were continuously affected by the words of people whose lives had been touched by our mother, our grandmother. These words of hope will inspire and sustain us on those particularly somber days ahead. Over what would seem like months, the days following her death would be filled with others’ memories and sentiments of my mother. And what I noticed without hesitation, there was a common theme woven through every voice we heard. As her family, we were keenly aware of this trait. But to hear over and over from those who had come in contact with our mother, no matter how brief, that the love she revealed to them was genuine and real; that her unconditional love for each of them was clearly felt. Her connection with them mattered, and they knew this.

Over these days, as we look back on her life, what we already knew rose to the surface more than ever before. Our mother’s life was simple but filled with a reserve of extraordinary love; not an ordinary feat for anyone. Her life was full of riches but not the tangible ones. Her life’s treasures came in the form of the love she gave to others. She will be remembered best as a faithful servant of God and as a loving and dedicated mother and grandmother. Nicknamed “Gogi” by her oldest grandson, how she loved is what mattered the most to her; something so ordinary in its application, but not easy to perform. “Gogi” always placed the needs of her loved ones ahead of hers. Even when the disease had stolen all her words, we still felt the love she had for all of us. We could see it in her eyes.

Even in our mother’s moments of darkness over the course of her life, she always managed to hold on to her faith and her love of God. She knew the light would be waiting behind the dark. A life well lived should be measured, not in time, but in how we live our lives. What is most important is not the years, but the “dash” in between. The dash reveals so much more than the number of years will ever tell us. I am proud the way my mother lived out her “dash.” “For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on this earth … and now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth. For it matters not, how much we own: the cars … the house … the cash. What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.”

Thank you momma, “Gogi,” for living your dash so fully and lovingly. We will miss your presence; we will miss your love; we will miss your faith until we are reunited again one day. We know where you are. Heaven is the lucky one now. You did it “Gogi.” You completed the race. You have crossed the finish line. You have your prize now. We love you more…

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