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. . . And Coffee With Extra, Extra Cream

Editor’s Note: This is a beautiful reflection of the endearing relationship between mother and daughter and reminding us of the priceless value of friendship.

     I moved back to my home town of Cincinnati in the fall of 2009.  I primarily came home to honor my parents and at the individual request of my Mom and Dad (divorced for nearly 40 years, but living in the same city).  I’d been away from home for nearly 25 years – about half my life, certainly the bulk of my mature adult life. 

     I was going to live with my Mom for a season.  Living with her, I knew we would spend time together, but I still wanted to be intentional about building memories into our lives as adults.  The move was difficult for both of us and I didn’t want the circumstances to overshadow a potentially meaningful time for us.  Memories and traditions are important to me and it was important that my time home not just be, but that we could attach memories to it.

     I lived in Virginia for 18 years.  In that time, on Sunday mornings, I went to the ocean front to watch the sunrise.  It was a special time for me of meeting with God.  Cincinnati doesn’t have an ocean front, although the winding and hilly banks of the Ohio River in this area are beautiful.  I found a place to watch the sunrise, but getting there on Sunday mornings just wasn’t the same as heading to the beach.  I decided to start a new tradition.

     Mom and I were both up about the same time on Sunday mornings getting ready for church and I thought it would be good to have breakfast together before we headed out.   So we did.  On Sundays I’d make our breakfast (every other morning was breakfast on our own because of our schedules).  I’d call mom on her cell phone when I put the toast down (she lived in a 17 room Victorian home) and she would come downstairs in time to butter the toast and pour our coffee. Those last few minutes together in the kitchen were always light, upbeat with a little spark, and then we’d enjoy breakfast. 

     Living together we obviously shared many meals, but this meal each week was an intentional memory builder.  It became a small tradition in the 20 months I lived with Mom.   Mom enjoyed Sundays.  She loved getting up and going to church to praise and worship Jesus, her Savior, her Redeemer, and the Lord she adored.  Mom enjoyed a hot breakfast on Sunday, I enjoyed making it and even Mom’s dog Mercy, looked forward to a few bites of scrambled eggs. 

     If you’ve followed my scattered articles over the last two years, you’ll know my Mom was in a terrible car accident in July of 2010 in which she broke her ankle.  Her ankle healed and she was able to get around pretty well by last Thanksgiving.  After the holidays and as the year turned 2011 it seemed Mom’s condition worsened.  She was frequently nauseous and was in tremendous pain walking around.  We had learned in July 2010 that Mom had what appeared to be legions on her liver. 

     In a run to the emergency room in March of 2011 after months of doctor visits trying to learn why Mom was in excruciating pain every time she walked, we learned that the breast cancer she had had in 2005 had metastasized and was in her liver and in her bones, primarily her hip carriage.  Mom came home from that hospital visit into hospice care (Crossroads Hospice).  From that point forward Mom’s meals were small portions of whatever she was eating (grits, mashed potatoes, apple sauce, but mostly consisted of drinking Ensure or juices.

     It could have been easy for me to just come and settle into life here in Cincinnati.  My encouragement to all of us is to enjoy what we have while we can and to be intentional in the details of life.  I intended Sunday breakfast to be a tradition we shared as adult mother/daughter friends.  The simplicity of a regular Sunday breakfast together was comforting, enjoyable and necessary.  I had no idea then how etched into my heart this time had become until it was no more. 

     I looked forward to that specific time on Sunday mornings.  By the time March 2011 rolled around, Mom was barely able to walk around and was even using her walker for support.  She couldn’t even carry a small plate of toast to the table because her hands and fingers were so weak, but she would put the jelly and cream in a basket rigged onto to her walker and took them to the table for us and we still enjoyed breakfast together. 

     Mom passed away on April 23rd, the Saturday morning of Resurrection weekend.   I wasn’t prepared for those first Sunday mornings (after Easter) and how painful it would be not to make and share breakfast.    I can tell you I would give anything to share a Sunday breakfast with my Mom of scrambled eggs, toast and jelly and coffee with extra, extra cream.

Copyright © 2008-2015 Diane Wiater, Ph.D.

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