Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Story of True Love - A Celebration of Life

My sweet Mama ...

This is post has been written over many days.... it has been a very different couple of weeks for me. I have been in Georgia, Oklahoma and back in Georgia and now home again.

If you are my friend on Facebook or a close friend, you know why.

My sweet little mama has had her last days.

March 19, 1922 began the life of Sarah Elizabeth Bennett Freeman - known as Bess. She was a treasure and a blessing. Her humor is known all over. Her love is felt by thousands - but especially by her husband, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

She met Ross (George Ross Freeman, Sr.) when she was 16 and he was 15. He was the handsome 85 pound center of the Tennille football team. She met him on a double date. He had a date with her younger sister, Mae, and she was with someone else. After that night, she informed Mae that she was very interested in Ross (if Mae was not). They began dating then.

After they graduated from high school that year (yes, he was 15 and she was 16), she had to move to Baltimore to live with her sister Connie and Yankie. It was during the depression and she needed a job to help support her family back home. Then she went to Toccoa Bible School in Toccoa, GA. It was there that Ross sent her a letter saying, "come to Macon and marry me!" She threw up her hands and shouted, "HALLELUJAH!!!!". She was on the next bus to Macon.

They married on June 15, 1942. He was going to school at Mercer and was city missionary for the Methodist church.

They were moved to Darien where he pastored 9 churches and had 2 children. Then they moved to Baxley where I was born. They had only 6 churches there. Next they moved to Woodstock where he only had 3 churches. Their career in ministry just moved on and up through many different facets.

Fast forward 64 years.... after many different roles in serving the church by Ross.... and also Bess. She was there with him, helping him, serving him, supporting him.

In December 2006, we began to realize that something was wrong with her. She just sat and cried. She couldn't remember names and places and basic facts. They said she had small vessel disease in the brain - it boiled down to the dread horrible disease of Alzheimers.

Daddy stopped his busy life. He had traveled and preached and ministered and held conferences and seminars all over. He made the decision to stay with her and take care of her. My nephew, Greg, moved in and because he worked at night, he was there during the day to help. He took up the shopping and much care for mama. Because of Greg's sacrifice and love, they were able to stay in their home until last November.

Daddy, who loves peanuts and popcorn - especially while watching sports, had developed diverticulitis. Eating his favorite things irritated this and he began to bleed - and almost bled to death. At this time the decision was made to move them into a home. Mama HAD to have the memory care and daddy needed more help in caring for her. They were moved into a wonderful new place for memory care.

We made the L.O.N.G. trip back and forth to Georgia as often as we could. That was our vacation 4 years. During these visits mama would recognize me at some point. Mostly, I was a stranger and she would talk and love me and be the perfect hostess or guest (depending on where she thought she was). She began to recognize and respond less and less. The last year, she did not know me at all.

Meanwhile, Daddy stayed right with her. We encouraged him to stay home and let the memory care home care for her since they were trained in that. Mama didn't know him anyway most of the time and she became very aggressive and confrontational. At times she bit him and kicked him and pinched him. She did not know him. Yet, he stayed and loved her and would not leave her side.

He gave up all his activities. He quit going to church. He did not want to go to the doctor or barber or anywhere and leave her. Only if my wonderful sister or sister-in-love would stay with mama would daddy leave.

Earlier this summer my brother moved them to a home closer to him. Everyday they would go and check on them. It was determined about 3 weeks ago that mama needed hospice. The staff at the home could not take care of mama's needs. My sister called to let me know that she was on oxygen and declining - her systems were shutting down - she was dying ....

We determined that we needed to go so we made arrangements. Got there and visited and loved on her for a couple of days. Hospice said she could last for weeks. We decided to come home on Sunday. Neither of us wanted to leave, but having been assured we had weeks, we decided that we needed to journey back. About 9 hours into our trip my brother called to tell us they had moved mama to the hospice facility and would be giving her morphine and she was showing all signs of dying.

We came home, washed clothes and repacked, slept a few hours and headed back. We got in Monday night and were able to visit with her and kiss her and love on her awhile. I told her that I loved her and thanked her for waiting for me to come back and said it was okay to go ahead to the other side. She had wanted to go for so long. In fact, about the only thing I had understood her clearly to say in the past year was that she wanted to die.

My nephew stayed with her through the night. We got a call a little after midnight Tuesday that she was going and we should come on. I got ready and by the time we got there she had taken her last breath. It was 2:05 am October 19, 2010.

We all gathered around her and prayed and thanked God for her life. My sister and her husband, my brother and his wife, my nephew and niece and of course, Daddy were all there. We celebrated her life and rejoiced in tears at her release.

She was a good woman. She was a godly woman. She loved her husband and children to a fault! She was shameless in her love for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Everywhere she went, she wore a butterfly to represent her faith - she was a new creation. She loved pink roses. She loved butterflies and took great joy in seeing them.

At her burial butterflies were released just for her - they flew away and then landed on the blanket of roses covering her casket.

Daddy has remained by her side. He has cared for her lovingly and intentionally. The staff at the home talked about the love and devotion he had. One girl, in particular, got so emotional and said that she wished she had someone who loved her so much.

The witness and example of love and devotion shown by both my parents to each other. They could not do enough for each other. Their love was evident to the world.

I have been blessed beyond measure with my family. We walk in love. We walk in unity. We walk in Jesus.

Thank you, for letting me share!