During the night, her breathing changed, slower, long gaps, very dry throat, all the indicators that I had known from working in hospice, that signaled the end was near. To be sure, I asked if she wanted some water? "Just wet my tongue." "What if we pray, Mom?" Nodding. I'm not sure what my words were, asking for strength to heal, something like that. "Pray the other way." Those were my marching orders. I then asked my father to welcome my mother into paradise. I kissed her good-bye, soon knowing that it would be the last time she knew it was me. I told her I was sorry for all the times I failed her, and that I loved her as did all her children. She was leaving. Her demeanor changed-more peaceful-no struggling to breathe. Content. She was finished with her labor and soon she would see the fruits of it.
The fact that Mom died on St. Nicholas Day is no small thing. A favorite family tradition was leaving our shoes out the night before to see what St. Nick would bring. And, they were polished. To this day, it is probably the only day I polish my shoes.
You are still the voice in my head when it comes to frugal or practical or traditional matters. I miss you. I love you.
Fay Loyola Aylward Rundquist
February 16, 1918 - December 6, 2001 (St. Nicholas Day)