Tuesday, December 23, 2008
My Mom, Virginia Mae Sass, died at 5:01 Sunday, December 21, 2008 of a massive heart attack. She would have been 61 on January 20th.
She had known since 2003 about her heart condition, and wished to keep it private. The recommended course of action was invasive surgery she did not want and felt with her diabetes she would either not survive or not heal properly from. Though Dad, Sarah and I often tried to convince her to see a doctor, she steadfastly chose to decline medical intervention. She wanted to live her life out naturally and privately, at home and without the trauma of invasive procedures, and that is what she did. It seems so clear now in retrospect that her health was waning and leading to this for some time. But words cannot express what a sad, sad Shock it was. She would have been 61 on January 20 of the new year.
Last night we said goodbye to Mom. Her wish was for there not to be a fuss following her death. She did not want a big, public funeral, and wished to be cremated, which will take place within the next few days. According to her exact wishes we had a private viewing with only her nuclear family in attendance. Dad, Sarah and Amentahru, me and Nat, and the kids went to Washburn McReavy funeral home in uptown Minneapolis at a little after 7 last night, once Sarah and Amentahru arrived from Illinois. Mom wore one of her favorite turquoise and navy plaid tops, with the mom bracelet I made her containing birthstone beads for Sarah and me and a love pendant. We stood around her and sat with her, kissed her cold forehead and grasped her cold arms, and stroked her hair that felt like normal, soft and wispy. In the background we played the lovely, ethereal, other-worldly Enya Paints the Sky with Diamonds, as she wished.
Mom loved Corrie Ten Boom. So I read a quote from her writings, 'A life is not measured by it's duration, but by it's donation.' And that fits Mom to a tee. She gave so much--what she lovingly and painstakingly created in yarn for loved ones and acquaintances alike, any overflow of resources she delighted in giving away, her love and time and joy and affection and teaching for the grandkids, so many hours into delicious comfort food meal preparation and celebrations....
Nat read from scripture about how God is the healer of the broken hearted and the crushed (Psalm 34:18), how the old order will pass away and in the new order God will wipe every tear and there will be no more sorrow or pain (Revelation 21:4), and how he went to prepare a place for us and he promised he will take us to that place (John 14:1-4).
The kids had listed special things they love about Grandma: she was really nice, she hates to have her picture taken, she was an awesome artist even though she doesn't admit it , she made us beautiful things, she likes to clean other people's houses, she loves to babysit her grandkids, she loves her family, she was the soup queen...
Sarah suggested we sing songs and the ones that came up were By the Light of the Silvery Moon (from when she played piano out of the Reader's Digest book), Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken (from the hymn book she played often), She'll be Coming Round the Mountain (one of the songs we would sing on our road trips), Blessed Be the Tie that Binds, It is Well With My Soul, and lastly, The Lord Is My Shepherd, the last line of which goes, 'Goodness and mercy all my life shall surely follow me, and in God's house forever more my dwelling place shall be. '
Dad led us in prayer for Mom and those loved ones surviving her passing ahead of us into the promised land and we bought a balloon to release to symbolize the freedom of Mom's spirit and as Clara says to watch her fly up to heaven where God is.
Though it is so painful to have to say goodbye for now to Mom, I know now wholeness and healing and perfect love have come to her, and it is a comfort to know she is with God and all is well.