The morning of April 12, 2005, I was packing my bags to take a trip that I had taken numerous times the previous 2 ½ months. At least once a week (occasionally more often) I would make the drive from Birmingham to Phil Campbell, AL to visit my mom and dad and spend as much time with my mom as I could because she was fighting the devastatingly, horrible disease of cancer which became even worse after she suffered a broken hip that required surgery and accelerated the progression of the cancer cells. I knew, however that this trip was going to be different. I knew that when I left, I would not be coming home until I went to mom’s funeral. You see, once I got on the road to Phil Campbell, I had a quite frank conversation with God and I told him in no uncertain terms, that He needed to either perform a miracle and heal my mom or He needed to take her home because I was tired of seeing her suffering and laying in bed looking like a person that I didn’t recognize.
I had been there a few hours when my mom, the woman I respected more than any other, took her last breath and moved to her forever home. Quite honestly, this was probably the darkest day in my life. I was and always will be a mama’s boy. I used to joke with her and tell her that I would be in my 60s and she would be in her 90s and she’d still call me her baby. And I was more than ok with that.
I remember as I was growing up, watching my mom do without things so that her 8 children would not go without. I remember her being active in church, whether it was running the tape ministry, to take tapes of the worship services to shut-ins, or being President of the WMU, whatever she did, she loved and enjoyed doing. She especially enjoyed volunteering at a group home for adults with disabilities. But I know that what she enjoyed the most was spending time with her family that she loved more than anything.
She knew what time I got off work and would call me every day on my way home just to chat. If there was a day that I didn’t hear from her by the usual time, I would call her and then she would fuss at me for being on the phone while I was driving even though she would normally call me while I was driving. Apparently, somehow it was ok to be on the phone while driving if she initiated the call. I still remember the last time I talked to her on the phone. She called to tell me Happy Birthday. At the time, I didn’t know it would be the last time I would talk to her on the phone, but I will always treasure the sound of her voice and her final words I heard on the phone which were, “love you son.” I had no clue on that day, that less than 2 weeks later, she would be gone.
I still feel her with me. At times I will hear a certain sound or smell a certain scent and instantly will think of her. Mom’s favorite perfume was Chantilly and I remember a time when I was at Wal-Mart and a lady walked by was wearing it (or something that smelled very close to it). I had to turn around and go down another aisle because I almost had a “come apart” and wanted to go hug her but didn’t want to scare the poor lady.
Mom made the best chicken dressing that I have ever tasted. My job while she was mixing the dressing was to smell it and make sure there was enough sage in it. To this day, if I see or smell dressing, I’m instantly thrown back to growing up in that house on Brown Street in Phil Campbell, AL.
There are so many memories of her that as long as I live, I will never forget her. She was born Rosemarie. To some she was Rose, Mama Rose, Rosey (even though she didn’t like that), or Mrs. Carden. But to me she was Mom.
Love you mom.