I had the privilege of taking care of my mother during the last few weeks of her life. The last week or so, she was unable to speak, but before that, I was there with her before any of my brothers and sisters came to be with her for her final days. One of the things I most remember from this time was when she asked me to order flowers for her neighbors.
It was early December. My mom had raised 6 children mostly by herself, as my father had passed away when the oldest of us was 15 and the youngest was 2. By this time, all of us had moved on into adulthood and to other cities around the state and country. Mom’s friends and neighbors were a big part of her day to day life. So, when Mom asked me to call the florist and order the poinsettias for the people who lived near her on her suburban street and wanted them to be delivered the week before Christmas, I hesitated.
I paused because I wondered if she was totally lucid, and I waited because I wondered if she would still be alive the week before Christmas. I wasn’t sure if she had the same thought. She seemed to sense my uncertainty, and insisted that I go into her purse and get her credit card and that I make sure I ordered the biggest and the brightest red Christmas flowers that they had, and to make sure they were delivered before the holiday, but not too early to be at their peak on Christmas day.
So, I made the call. I can scarcely imagine what it was like for those neighbors to be the recipients of her final moments of kindness, delivered to them the week after her funeral.
Mom taught me to not put off the impulse to do good things for others, because one never knows if they’ll ever have another chance.