Alice passed away last week. She was ninety-three and had been my mother-in-law for nearly thirty-two years. Physically, her systems had been failing the last few years of her life. It became increasingly difficult for her to get around even with a walker and my father-in-law spent most of his waking hours caring for her. But her mind and sense of humor were as sharp as ever. She exchanged quips with me as she lay struggling for breath with an oxygen mask strapped to her face.
All children were her special love. She never missed sending a card to any of her children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren for birthdays, holidays or special occasions. She never missed any of this son-in-law’s. I’ve saved all her cards.
Alice especially loved babies. Some years back my wife bought her a doll resembling a real baby in appearance, weight and feel. She named him Alex and treated him like a living member of her family. Not in a weird, spooky way, but fondly like my granddaughter treats one of her baby dolls—except without always pulling off his clothes leaving him naked, one of my granddaughter’s favorite things to do. Just before she died, my wife asked if she’d like to take Alex with her. “Oh, no,” she replied. “I couldn’t do that to him.”
Over the years she’d requested the song “That Wonderful Mother of Mine”* to be played at her funeral. My wife went to the church and discovered that the tune wouldn’t be allowed even as exit music after the mass. She was told if notes from that song should ring out within the walls of the church at any point in or around the liturgy, the church floor would most likely crack open issuing forth Satan and his hordes of demons, creating a scene resembling “A Night on Bald Mountain” from Walt Disney’s Fantasia. Disappointed and not wishing to unleash Armageddon on the world, she took Mom’s sheet music and left.
Here are a few lines from that old song, which now cause a tear to run down my cheek:
I pray ev’ry night to our Father above,
for that wonderful mother of mine.
I ask Him to keep her as long as He can
that wonderful mother of mine.
There are treasures on earth
that make life seem worthwhile,
But there’s none can compare
with my dear mother’s smile.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
You’ll hold a spot down deep in my heart,
till the stars no longer shine
Your soul shall live on forever,
on through the fields of time.
For there’ll never be another to me,
like that wonderful mother of mine.
*©1918 Warner Brothers, Inc.