The last time I saw my mom alive, 9 years ago this month, she was wearing her favorite big, fluffy bathrobe. Undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer, she sensed her struggle was coming to an end and she didn’t have the wherewithal to get dressed most days. While I was with her, a hospice nurse came in and talked to us about the future. We arranged for Meals on Wheels to bring food several times a week. I talked to the postal deliverer about bringing her mail down to the front door because her mailbox was at the top of a steep driveway.
She was still sleeping in her bedroom which was on the lower floor of the house where I grew up, so she had enough energy and strength to climb the stairs every morning. But she was growing weaker.
I didn’t know that was the last time I would see her.
After she passed away, my sisters and brother and I went through all the things in the house (my dad had passed away 16 months previous) and chose what we wanted to take home with us, what would be donated, and what would be thrown away.
I chose the robe.
That old robe is getting a little ratty, but I can’t see myself ever wanting to let it go. It doesn’t smell like her anymore—she’s been gone too long—but it still looks like her, and that’s enough for me.
Would I rather hear her voice over the telephone line? Of course. Would I prefer to get a letter in the mail with the latest photographs of whatever she wanted me to see? Absolutely. But instead, I have this old robe. And it’s precious to me.
Miss you, Mom. You would be proud of your grandkids. The one who had a baby almost a year ago and would have made you a great grandma. The one who graduated from college this year and already has a job. The ones who got married and are making new lives for their families. The one who opened his own business and has been written up in several publications because of it. The one who started college and wants to be a law enforcement officer. The one you never met, who learned to tie his own shoes and loves Star Wars. The one who loves horses just like I do and takes riding lessons and has been in horse shows. The one who will be a high school senior and is trying to figure out where he wants to go and what he wants to do.
And so I wear the robe. It holds me close when my mom no longer can. No matter how ratty it gets, that robe isn’t going anywhere.