Jon recounted memories with her, most of which she remembered. While holding hands and with moistened eyes, he told her he loved her and that she was a good mom. She responded by whispering she loved him and "You're a good boy." Then she saw all of our kids and couldn't believe how big they were and how time had flown.
At times I could hear the old Joyce's voice before it trailed off to a whisper. Because of the heavy fatigue, it is impossible for her to keep her eyes open very long but she listens and her sharp wit made appearances. Reese was sporting a fake mustache and when Jon told his mom that, she giggled and in a faint Texas drawl said, "Oh, he's too young for that." When she asked what our plans were for the day, Jon replied that I wanted him to take me to "Garden something.." Smiling, she finished his sentence by saying, "Ridge. Uh huh, Yes, you'll like that."
After a few days of visiting with her the time came for us to go back home. On our last visit Jon told her one of his most favorite memories was going to church when he was little and letting him rest his head on her lap during the sermon. It was so hot in church that he would get tired so he lay down on her lap as she stroked his hair. He told her that it made him feel so loved. Softly she said, " I'm glad to hear that because that always made me the happiest. It was my job to make sure you kids knew you were loved." A tear fell. Reese moved in and tenderly dabbed her eyes with a tissue and placed some in her hand. That is the real him.
Shortly after, Jon and his dad went down the hall for something and I moved into Jon's seat at her right. She turned slightly toward me as I took her hand. "It's been a good life." she said.
I bowed my head and squeezed my eyes shut to let the tears fall down my face. I held my breath so she wouldn't hear me cry and then I was able to quickly compose myself and respond, "Yes, it has."
Upon entering the house that she loved setting up, pictures are perfectly placed on every wall. Photos of grandkids at birth, then at ages 2, 5, 6, 9, 15...there are pictures of her children in cribs and then pictures of them with their own children in cribs...there is a grouping of wedding portraits of all of us and pictures of great-grandparents, graduations, family get-togethers, snapshots of when they were young, places they lived, all snapshots of a life well-lived.
And it has indeed, flown by.
We were saddened by all that she has to endure. We take comfort in thinking that in relation to how quickly time has flown, that enduring doesn't seem so long either.
I'm sure every one of you can look around and ask yourself where the time went. You're already sending that baby to Kindergarten, your youngest is getting married, you've been out of school 30 years now, your first grandchild is already 3, your baby just got his driver's license, you've just hit your 5-year anniversary at work, you only have 2 more years until the car is paid off...
That is not to say that enduring is easy, but it's not forever. Some do have significantly more challenges than others so it may feel like forever. My heart aches for those people.
But really, it will be just for a moment. The human spirit is strong but you have to be willing to exercise it and put out all your faith to go forward. That decision is a personal one which takes time.
But with the love of family, we endure.