February 22, 2011

The Wave Goodbye

She's 81.  She lived in her dream home for 32 years with the man that she's been married to for 59. It is a large two story house that sits at the top of a large hill - the street lined with shade trees.  It's a beautiful neighborhood, but a neighborhood she has had to say goodbye to.  The house isn't empty; it's filled with items being prepared for the estate sale, and there are for sale signs in the yard.  To be honest, it's not the house or the things in it that are hard for her to give up, it's knowing that she is in her final chapters, and the future is still very uncertain.  But hasn't it always been uncertain?  Isn't it uncertain for all of us?  Do we know what's around the corner?  My grandfather used to say, "It doesn't take long to live a life."

So that old house awaits a new family, and Mom and Dad have moved on to their new home, probably the last home on this earth, but not the last home they will ever know.  They know they have a new one waiting for them that was prepared long ago.  Jesus is just waiting for the perfect time, when all of the precious moments of their lives have been counted and complete.  Until then, this is where you'll find them . . .

Mom has a special way about her, and one tradition that has always been important to her is the hospitable way that she says goodbye.  Whenever we or other guests were at the big old house on the hill, Mom never let us walk out alone.  It wasn't enough to hug us at the door.  No, Mom had to walk us out to the car, and wave until we had driven out of view.  In the last couple of years, the walk out to our cars has been too difficult so we placed a chair at the end of the garage for her to sit in.  We raised the garage door, walked mom to her seat of honor, hugged, and waved until we were out of sight, hoping against hope that she and dad would make it back in to the house safely.  In spite of her condition, she absolutely refused to give up her tradition - moments in time dedicated to saying goodbye. 

There is no sidewalk, or driveway, or garage door now.  It seemed so awkward the first time I had to say goodbye at their apartment door.  Mom was still refusing to give up her tradition as she waved down the hall, this hall, until we were out of sight . . .

Seeing Mom wave down the hall just felt wrong for some reason.  It was sweet and endearing how she continued as she always had, but waving down the hall just wasn't going to do.  It soon dawned on me that my car was always parked just below the windows to their apartment.  That's it!  She can sit on the bench in front of her bedroom window, wave as we leave the building, and watch us drive away!  Dad is always with her, but it is her thing - her way of saying, "I love you, and I will keep saying it until I can't say it anymore."

So here she sits waving at me through the window late one evening.  I snap the picture, a memory of a moment that represents thousands of other moments.  It's captured for the here and now, but embedded in my heart for eternity.  I'll be there with her in that eternal home someday, and I'll tour the mansion, and I'll wave goodbye as I walk down a golden street until our next meeting, and the meeting after that.  Because when that day comes, the meetings will never end. 

At the top of my blog I have these words written, "Life is lived moment by moment.  What we do with these moments, matters."  Mom's not gone.  She's very much alive.  But her moments are dwindling, and so I stop and I record with camera and pen the moments like these.  The moments that matter.


  1. Oh Stephani, your eyes and our heart spill out on this post. What a precious hospitable tradition your mother maintains. I think it is wonderful that you found way for her to wave in this new home until you get into your car.

    My heart resonates with your grandfather's words: "It doesn't take long to live a life."

    Take time to savor the moments.

  2. Wow, what an awesome and inspirational story -I hope that can be said of me one day.

  3. As I write, tears are streaming...my mom does the same thing...waving until we cannot see each other anymore. This was a precious post, my friend...

  4. I'm typing through the tears that are streaming down my face, Stephani. What a precious precious post...what a precious precious spirit with which you view the needs of your parents...especially with your mom's need to say and wave goodbye.

    Thank you so much for sharing this tender post with us.

  5. Oh I know exactly what you are feeling and you describe it all so well. I have a similar photo of my mom waving goodbye to me on my blog...at Christmas, right after she moved to an apartment from her cottage in her retirement center. She waves to us too. Her collection of things may be getting smaller, but her inportance in our lives is not. I hope both of our moms have many more wonderful years on this earth...but the best is yet to come. What a promise to hold on to.

  6. One night recently my husband shut the garage door before my daughter-in-law had backed all the way out of the driveway and my heart skipped a beat. I don't remember that ever happening before.

    Just last night she was here and it was cold out so I ran from the garage to the kitchen window and waved from there.

    I am on your mother's end and I hope they notice. smile

    Beautiful, beautiful, post dear Stephani.

  7. Beautifully written! Thank you for taking the time to share that with us.

  8. Tears. My parents did the same thing. Thankfully, my dad still does even though my mom is gone. This post is bitter and sweet. Time seems to be creep slowly and get away from us all at the same time. Your love for your parents is precious and I feel your heart in every single word. Just beautiful.

    Your grandfather's,"It doesn't take long to live a life." Wow. Wise words.

    Blessings on you this day, Stephani. I pray God's richest blessings on the moments you have left with your mom. I pray that time slows a bit as you savor each one.

  9. Writing as I cry, Stephani. This is SO touching. I'm glad you do still have your mother here, even though these final chapters are difficult to walk through. You are being so faithful to her and your dad. Praying God's richest blessings on you, friend!

  10. Oh, Stephani, this touched my heart like no other post I've ever read. I pray God's richest blessings on you on the remaining days of your parents lives. I can tell you that losing my Mom is the hardest thing I've ever gone through thus far. I feel so blessed to still have my precious Dad and cannot even think of my life without him. What a void there will be. I cannot imagine being "parentless." But, what a day it will be when our Jesus we will see and all be reunited in a land where we'll never grow old and never depart.

    May He give you all that you need, just as you need it, to face the days ahead.

    You are precious and I am blessed by knowing you! Hugs!

  11. this was a beautiful post....very touching. Your love for you mom shines through. In some ways it made me sad...your grandfather's saying....hugs to you Stephani.

  12. Pass the kleenex box! I'm really touched and relate to this season of your life. What a beautiful memory for you to treasure.
    Praying for your sweet parents and for your in this transitional time.

  13. I was touched upon reading your post. My mom too is getting old and I can relate the emotions you had in your post. It's so beautifully touching, thank you for sharing this to us. Happy day and I feel blessed with your story. Visiting you for the first time.

  14. yes, my mom does this too... it is hard for me to leave her house after a visit. i loved your mommy story very much! i hope they are enjoying their new place, it looks very nice...

  15. This is a great post.
    I'm glad I stopped by.


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