Wednesday, January 11, 2012



By Gloria Faye Brown Bates

I loved my mother from a small child until the day she died. No matter what my mom did to hurt me, I forgave many years ago. She was a mother at fourteen, and she made mistakes. I realized through time that I had to also, learn through my own mistakes.

Through my childhood years my mom wasn't there for me... in my adult years my mom was there for me. When I became sick she didn't come to see me at all during those three years. Skip took me when I was able to go, to see her.

My mom's youngest sister constantly chipped at the close relationship mom and I had. She chipped away at relationships her other sisters had...with their daughters. She was jealous of them, she had a daughter but, they never saw each other.

I learned over time as I began to recover from my illness... mom's youngest sister had played a big role in her not coming to see me. Mom's sister thought I wasn't sick, though she never came to see. She determined that by seeing stacks of mail on the outside of our mailbox for the postman to pick up each day... that I wasn't so sick that I couldn't write alot of letters. She had no way of knowing my cousin from Arizona had come to stay with us, he always had alot of correspondence going out each day. I was too sick to notice, never being aware of this.

I went through a life-threatening illness in the years of 1998-2000. I had my first surgery July, 1998 and went through chemotherapy. I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, surgery saved my life. There was a large mass on my left lung, resting on my heart. It was non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

My second surgery was July, 1999... again, I went through chemotherapy. I fought to live, I didn't want to die. My husband, Skip, was always by my side. If he saw me weakening, he'd pull me right back up.

Before the surgery, Skip took me for many tests ... specialists couldn't determine what was wrong with me. In the meantime, I became very weak, I couldn't speak above a whisper, and I began to cough.

I lost weight rapidly and in my mind, I thought I'd been eating... I wasn't. Just before the surgery I began to stay death-cold and wrapped up in blankets. I had entered the dark world where I stayed... I would have never known if I had died.

I do remember I would imagine my mama coming to me and pulling my covers up to my chin, making sure the cover was over both of my ears to keep them warm. She used to do that when I was very little.. I never forgot it. It meant the world to me.This is what comforted me in the dark world whenever I was aware enough to think. That was 'the only time mom came to see me'.. she came in the dark world I was in to comfort me.

On the morning of surgery, I do remember looking up at Skip from the wheelchair I was sitting in and saying 'I'm so thankful I'm here, I don't think I could make it a day longer'. Skip pushed my wheelchair through the automatic doors at the hospital.

In the year 2000, I began to be strong enough to drive. I wanted to see my mom. Skip took me when I was sick to see her, mom never seem to realize I was very ill.

I never could understand. Once I even took my wig off to show her that I'd lost all my hair... it took alot for me to do that. She just looked at me in surprise. My mom showed emotion at times, but, when I was deathly sick... she didn't. I never asked her 'why'don't you care, mama? I know she cared, somehow... I just couldn't see that she did. I always had a problem with knowing if she did or didn't, even knowing she did love me.

Sometimes when she would call me, we would talk and I'd tell her about tests I'd just undergone.. she would ask me what was wrong. She would 'forget' I was sick. This was from my mother who said she'd crawl to get to me if I was sick, if she had to. Mom didn't crawl to come see me when I lay dying......... I loved my mom regardless.

I wanted to drive to my mom's home which was a few miles away. This was when I began to do things again. I remember I was so excited to be driving to see her. I was going to do it often.

One day we were talking and laughing. We got on the subject of afterlife and if possible... we would come back. I told my mom if possible I was coming back... as I said that, I felt such determination.

Mom told me if possible, she would come back, too. We both promised the other, if something ever happened to one of us, we'd let the other know... somehow, that we were 'there'.

I told her I would come back as 'colors' like a cluster of happy colors, maybe in a rainbow or just where you'd see lot of colors at one time.

We were laughing and said we 'knew we would come back if at all possible, because if anybody could, we could'. We never thought one of us would die in the near future. We were just joking.....

Skip was diagnosed with colon cancer and had life-saving surgery. He, like I, had chemotherapy and many doctor appointments, and tests. In 2001, he had the second surgery for a incisional hernia in the exact place he had colon surgery one year prior.

It was Saturday, September 09, 2001... Skip and I were in Raleigh enjoying our shopping trip at Sam's Club. We walked around sampling the foods that the merchandisers had prepared. I walked away to look at something that caught my eye... it was colorful. Colors attract my attention... always.

I saw that the colors were designs painted on porcelain vases that looked like urns, with porcelain tops on them. I was thinking the word 'urn' as I picked one up to hold in my hands.

I turned it around and around to admire the painted flowers on it and saw that one of my favorite things was inside! Biscotti Biscuits! I hurried to show Skip, he loved Biscotti Biscuits with his coffee.

We enjoyed our shopping trip at Sam's Club. We stopped by Wendy's to get big diet Cokes to sip on the drive home. We were happy and had no idea of what awaited us... at home.

We got home and I carefully took the porcelain vase inside to keep it from being accidently broken. I went back out to the fence to take things as Skip handed them to me... to take inside. This was the way we handled our groceries, shopping bags. We never chanced letting our dogs get outside their fenced-in yard.

I happened to notice the red light blinking on the phone signaling we had a message. I hurried to put things on the table and went to the phone and pressed the button.

What I heard instantly put me into shock... as it played I went deeper into shock. It was the most unearthly sound I'd ever heard. The voice was terrified and high-pitched and... keening. It was my mom making the most horrifying cry that went on and on, begging me to help her. 'Faye-eeeeeeeeee, pleas-ssssssssssse help me!' She kept saying 'Faye, please help me' in that keening cry.

I felt numb, sick with shock and I began screaming for Skip to please come. When he did ...I played the recording again. I saw the time on the recording, it was 4:10 pm.

Later, when I talked to the 911 operator, she said the time when my mother's husband called for help saying mom was dying... it was 4:00 pm.......................

It was a week or so, after her death before I knew that. I've always thought if that were so, then... when she called on our phone... mom was calling from the afterlife to please help her.

This has disturbed me for years. I still have that cassette with her message on it, I can't listen to it now, it upsets me greatly.

The cassette survived a house fire that destroyed most of our belongings. My mother's ashes survived the fire, though the container they were in, was charred on one corner.

Several months later after my mother died, I came in the back door of our home. On my right was the bedroom where Skip and I slept. I turned to go into the bedroom and stopped in shock!

Our bedroom was filled with smoke! I panicked and began running around sniffing the air for something burning. I couldn't smell anything burning! My mind kept thinking the house is burning but, I can't smell it! Where is the smoke coming from!

I turned around and looked toward my desk where my computer was. I always left my computer on and I stood still... my computer monitor screen began to scroll, it began to scroll faster! It kept scrolling and as I stood there in shock, the crash of dishes falling sounded!

I ran to the kitchen not knowing what to expect.... I noticed as I ran, there wasn't any 'smoke' anywhere but, inside of our bedroom. The kitchen looked normal as I entered it. I walked to the dish drainer where I left dishes until I dried them to put up.

There were cups and plates laying in the sink! I couldn't understand how plates 'fell' from the drainer into the sink! I began to think 'Mama!'

I ran back to look quickly into the living room and hall, and everywhere. There wasn't any smoke in any of the rooms. Inside I feel so nervous, and worried that if something is burning, I've got to find it! I felt sick inside.

I hurried back into our bedroom, the 'smoke' was still there but, I couldn't smell anything! I turned around scanning everything again, and my eyes stopped to look at the mantle piece over the fireplace we never used. My mama's ashes were sitting there and I instantly thought of our conversation. That's when I began to think that my mama had 'come back'... she promised. I felt that my mama had come to let me know she was there.

I walked around in the bedroom, putting my hands up in the air to feel it. I didn't feel anything from what was now 'fog' in my mind. I knew it was my mom.

I sat down in my desk chair and looked at the monitor, it was no longer scrolling. That was the first and only time it ever did that. I began to relax even with the fog heavy in the air... the strange thing was I could see 'outside the bedroom door' into the next room..... it was clear as a bell! The only fear I felt was when I thought at first it was fire.

I went on that evening to forget about the fog... it was gone and I didn't even notice it leaving.

Several days later ... the fog was back! Again I panicked and ran around the room sniffing the air to be sure it wasn't a fire. I didn't feel fear at all, somehow in my mind I'd accepted it to be my 'mom'. I felt pain inside from her death and the unanswered questions in my mind regarding her death.. and the things I'd been told. I never felt fear, though.

I did stand in the fog trying to imagine seeing my mom in it, expecting any minute for her to appear. I wished for her to appear... she didn't. I would have been alright, I think... if she had appeared. I reached up and felt my face, it was wet with tears. I wished for my mama, I missed her... and in my mind I could hear that terrible keening of her begging me to help her.

The fog never came back, but, something else strange happened to me. Skip had bought me a new wardrobe for the bedroom to use for extra storage. It was a big, heavy wardrobe, well constructed. It had two big doors and a solid back on it. I put special things on the shelves that were important only to me. The shelves were on one side of the wardrobe, the other side had a rod to hang clothes on it.

A month had went by, the fog never reappeared. I had almost forgotten about it when one day, the strangest thing happened!

I was getting stronger all through time, I'd began driving again and doing light housework. I was so determined to be strong again and I wanted to live. I had fought hard to get this far on my road from... the dark world where I had to travel knowing pain and grief, and knowing I wouldn't be around very long.

These things were in my mind when I decided I wanted to walk again. Skip had bought me new walking shoes some time ago, I had them put up in the box wrapped in tissue paper inside the box with the lid on them. I had stacked more boxes of shoes on top of them.

I pulled the box out with my new walking shoes in it, and went to sit down on the bed to put them on. I was barefooted and the carpet felt good under my feet, my toes played with it as I sat to open my box.

I began to unwrap the tissue paper I'd wrapped back around my new shoes the last time I'd taken them out of the box. As I took one of the shoes out... something fell out. I looked into my shoe and didn't see anything... so, I turned the shoe upside down and..... white rice began falling from the inside of my shoe! It fell onto the dark green carpet... I watched in disbelief! A little pile of rice was on the carpet from my shoe!

I took the other shoe out of the tissue paper and turned it upside down and shook it... sure enough, there was rice inside it! I felt such surprise at seeing the rice fall out of them.... on the carpet was a little pile of rice! Pure white rice!

How could that be? I'd worn those shoes a couple of times before storing them in the box, how could.... just how in the world could........... rice...... be in my shoes! I went to my wardrobe to see if possibly a mouse could have been in our house and chewed its way to get inside of my new wardrobe. It was intact.

Common sense told me that if there wasn't a hole in the shoe box, a mouse couldn't have done it anyway! All these things were going through my mind. I was trying to make sense of it... and again... I thought 'mama'. I felt it was my mama who somehow did this. There wasn't any other explanation for the rice. I knew it wasn't there when I stored my shoes.

I sat there on our bed hugging my new shoes to my chest, I cried inside with tears falling from my eyes. It hurt to cry out loud. I missed my mama. I opened my eyes and looked around the room to see if I could see her... she wasn't there. I even looked up into the air to see if she was there. I really tried hard to 'see'her, I couldn't.

I could see the container that held my mama's ashes sitting up on the mantle piece above the fireplace. My eyes were drawn there... I just sat and looked at that container that held her ashes.

I did fully expect to 'see' my mama. I sat there with my eyes closed wishing so much to see her.... when I opened them to look... my mama wasn't there... she wasn't there. She must not could make herself be seen, only show herself in the strange things that had already happened.

Time went on and I never did 'see' my mama, nor did anything strange happen to make me think 'mama'. I still wait to see her. I wait to see my son.... he hasn't done anything to let me know he is 'there'....... yet.

Life can be sad and bittersweet... so can death. It hurts in a special kind of way when 'knowing' something happens and it has to be that special person you loved that is gone. The feeling is.... bittersweet.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't know your mother very well but what I do know of her, I admired her. She was always nice and spoke to me whenever I saw her. My heart goes out to you because I know you miss and loved your mother very much! Love, Ms. Nancy