I can remember vividly both our last conversation in May of 2001 and the last time I saw her alive on February 6, 2003. In May of 2001 we were in Missouri visiting my in-laws for my brother-in-law's high school graduation. She and I chatted on our normal Sunday afternoon talk and she told me about the women's conference she had gone to that weekend with my Grandma and Aunt in the Adirondacks and about some pains she had experienced in her chest. She had had a rough year health-wise and had even taken the rest of the year off from school to try to recoup. One thing I remember talking with her about was my dad's cousin Karl. He had just died of a heart attack and the funeral was the next day. We prayed together for the family and for opportunities to share Christ with them.
On February 6, 2003 there was a bit of a snow storm. The kids were cranky but I really wanted to go up and see her in the hospital. We got Caleb down and I decided to take Hannah and run up to see her. We had known that her death was imminent and had spent countless hours at the hospital, then the nursing home, and then the hospital in the days, weeks, and months previous to that point. As I arrived at the hospital my Dad was there talking to her. I talked with him for a bit and then he left encouraging me to leave with him but I wanted to stay. I talked to mom and prayed and read her some scripture. As I was about to leave I was crying pretty hard. I can remember her looking into my eyes with a questioning look. Her eyes asked me, "Sonja, why are you crying?" I think that she knew she was going Home. There was no fear in her eyes. I know that she was longing for Home where she could be with her Savior and no longer be contained by her earthly body that no longer worked. I gave her a hug and I left. In the middle of the night the hospital called my dad and told him to come. He went back to the hospital and was with her as she passed away. When he thought I would be awake he gave me a call and told me.
As I have been thinking of February 7th coming up I have had several songs come to my mind. At the beginning of last week it was Matthew West's "Save a Place for Me." I heard it a few times on the radio and had to look up the lyrics. It talks about "dreaming of the day when I'm finally there with you" and "I'll be there soon." I look forward to that day. Thinking of my parents always makes me "homesick" for heaven. That made me think of Steven Curtis Chapman's song "Not Home Yet." I love that song. It makes me think of my Mom and Russ's trip home from Chattanooga by bus after the car accident on the way down to drop me off at college. It was their theme song because the trip took so long. For me, personally, this week, it made me think that I am not Home yet. God has me here for a purpose and I need to be diligent to live for Him in the time I have remaining on this earth. Which made me think of Nichole Nordeman's song, "I Want to Leave a Legacy."
"I don't mind if you've got something nice to say about me
And I enjoy an accolade like the rest
You could take my picture and hang it in a gallery
Of all who's who and so-n-so's that used to be the best
At such'n'such ... it wouldn't matter much
I won't lie, it feels alright to see your name in lights
We all need an 'Atta boy' or 'Atta girl'
But in the end I'd like to hang my hat on more besides
The temporary trappings of this world
I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy
I don't have to look too far or too long awhile
To make a lengthly list of all that I enjoy
It's an accumulating trinket and a treasure pile
Where moth and rust, thieves and such will soon enough destroy
Not well traveled, not well read, not well-to-do or well bred
Just want to hear instead, "Well Done" good and faithful one..."
My mom left me a legacy. I want to do the same for my kids and the other people that I come in contact with. Did you know my mom? Did my mom leave a mark on you? Would you leave a comment to share a memory that you have of my mom, silly or serious, to help me celebrate her today? Thanks.
Edited on Monday to add comments posted by friends on my facebook status yesterday - maybe this will give you a glimpse of my mom if you didn't know her. Some made me laugh, some made me cry, all made me grateful for my mom and her life:
Mary Ellen: She Always made it a point to say Hello to me personally every Sunday in church!!
Margo: She had the cutest dimples that you saw quite often as she smiled quite a bit!
Ruth: Thinking of the day when Sandy took her motorcycle test still makes me giggle. Sandy was so cool and calm in the midst of mechnical failure. So funny ! "Can we just stop the test right now" Simply priceless ! Miss them both so !
Ana: I remember her being such a great part of my wedding day. I can hear her voice and laughter in the video that she took that day. She was a wonderful woman and a wonderful role model.
Tori: she always had a smile on her face.
Betsy: Both your parents were unassuming and genuine. Their love for the Lord was always evident.
Jean: It was very shortly before she got sick that she said "I think I am finally" Nelsonized". What do you suppose she meant by that? We loved her so much and still do.
Shannon: I remember that she was the nicest reading teacher ever, and I kept every award she ever gave me for years and years.
Rhonda: She was a really truly great person - and I remember her telling me all about her horse that just wondered the yard as if it was a dog!
Kim: I remember when I was in Jet Cadets and she would take us out to Pizza Hut...and when those times happened your dad was usually in the hospital...but she still took us because they had promised it....so we would eat pizza and then go visit your dad in the hospital and sing silly Jet Cadets songs!
Holly: I'll never forget our trip to WOL to drop you and Phoebe off, she cried and cried on the way home, but we were so proud of you both!!
Grace: "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:29-31 Sandy's favorite verse!!
Phoebe: "I remember having bonfires at your house and your mom was always ready with lots of hot dogs for us!"
Russ: "Mom always called me her "My baby boy, my pride and joy" and her right hand man because I was always there help her put things together and fix things. I was even her human doggy bag because very often I finished her left-overs so we did not have to take them home when we were out to eat.
When we had her brother Rusty and his family over for Thanksgiving once growing up, she was naming off the choices of drinks and her extra emphasis on "Gatorade" like the commercial stuck in my mind and my uncle Rusty's even till today. ...
One of my fondest later memories of mom was that in December of 2002 Camy came out to visit me and go with me to my cousin Dave's wedding. That weekend she got a chace to meet mom. After Camy helped my mom eat her dinner, spagetti balls with small meat balls, camy caught every meatball that mom spit out. Mom smiled and giggled as camy encouraged her. Before we left that visit I asked mom "Do you think she is a keeper?" Mom smerked and whispered "yeaaaahhhh". So with mom's approval I pursued camy till we married 3 and a half years later
When dad called me to let me know that Mom was home with the Lord I was in class and heading to chapel at Cedarville. The songs that day really dug at my heart, "Better is one day in your Courts than thousands elsewhere" Also the night of the 6th of february I had just returned from being in Waterloo for 5 days to say goodbye to mom and I had been asked to share about life and struggles in a dorm hall meeting. As I shared about mom's life and her struggles, yet how God was so faithful, 20, 18-22 year old guys were crammed into a small dorm room crying. That hall meeting lasted from 11:30 till after 1am, with guys leaving and coming back in after calling their parents to tell them they loved them. That next morning through God's great grace and Peace that Passes All Understanding, after I had heard of mom's going home to be withthe Lord, God gave me even more opportunities to talk to the guys of that hall meeting to share with them the Joy and Peace from God for taking Mom home to be with Him.
Oh do I miss her too! My kids will never meet their Grama or Grandpa until we all meet again in heaven, but God is sufficent and meets all of our needs here on earth.
Thanks everyone for the memories of mom!
To God Be The Glory"
me: I am thankful for how God used her in the lives of others as well as in my life. My favorite memory of my mom is seeing her in her chair in the corner of her bedroom every morning meeting with Jesus. I truly think that that time is what made her who she was and that is why I have made it a priority for me to spend time every morning reading my Bible and praying so I can become more like Jesus just like she did.