The truth is, this journey I am on has just started. I know that and must say a few things related to the journey some have taken with me, and some will take in a different form on down the road.
The last week has been rather astounding. It started with a band called SHEL staying at my house, doing a number of concerts with them as a host, host venue, promoter, and opening act for over a weeks worth of shows. There is so much more besides that thought although that provided an escape I so desperately needed, including the journey with my mother and the continuation of my own Christmas Journey Home. A crazy week including having to put a dog down, the house we are leasing having it’s landlord file bankruptcy, my son’s sentencing hearing which has yet to occur, then the emergency trip to visit and see my mother before she died, all of this on a ministry income that is minimal at best and difficult to near impossible at worst. That said, I still have assurance that God is God.
I received a phone call at 4:30 AM on Thursday morning, June 25. I realized, if I ever want to see my mom alive, I needed to get home. We decided that my wife would stay to be with our son for his court hearing on June 30, and I would take the 20 some hour drive. I left Wichita around noon on Thursday, with $200 in my pocket and a check for $100; I had a full tank of gas and a fresh oil change. I stopped in Paducah Kentucky, and had a friend to The Virtual Pew give some money. I had another friend offer a place to stay and help with the expenses which we are going to take him up on, on the way home. I have discovered there are all kinds of expenses in death, not just the loss of a friend, a loved one, but the cost of an obituary, the cost of opening a grave and more, you see my mom has died, and now a son who had issues with his mom, and a sister who he is close to are responsible to provide the arrangements. There is help though, there is wisdom from those around who loved our mom.
There has been healing take place between a son, daughter, and mother. There has been healing because there has been repentance. I won’t go into detail here, there are some things too personal to go into at the moment, maybe some time in the future. In the last 96 hours I have had 10 hours of sleep, including 4 hours of sleep late early this morning. I am revived in more ways than one could imagine.
I came to my mothers house last night around midnight to try and get some sleep, I had 4 hours of sleep in the last 72 hours prior to that. I had been with my mother all day, along with my sister. I drove immediately to the Christian Care Home in Johnson City from Wichita. My mom was lying there, looking better than she had the last time I saw her, but breathing hard, her eyes closed, her spirit seemingly, almost non existent. I went to her, bent down, held her hand, and told her; “Mama, this is your son Michael, I am here and I love you. You don’t have to hold on any more.” She actually opened her eyes, looked at me for no more than 5 seconds, and then closed her eyes again.
I spent the day with my mom, refusing to leave her until coming home last night around midnight. The hospice nurse told us she was just holding on for something. Her legs and arms had started to marble, her breathing was deep, she was grasping for air. The nurse stated there maybe someone she needed to hear from. I suggested my children and my sister’s children call. The nurse talked us through what to tell them. My mom could hear, she was aware of what was going on, but would be non responsive and would be making the gurgling sounds, but the kids needed to tell her they loved her, and that it was okay for her to go on.
I was surprised the calls started coming in, my sisters 3 boys, her former husband, and my wife and daughter, but not my son. I was told later that my son had called within an hour of my moms’ final decent. I was called after an hour or so of sleep, and got up right away to go back to the hospital. I got there, my mom was breathing heavy, I held her hand on one side, my sister held her hand on the other. She breathed deep, and slowly. After about 10 minutes, she breathed her last breath.
This morning has been chaotic, but I am grateful, I have seen many friends who were blessed by my mother, an apparent United Steelworkers Union Hero. In fact she was the first woman ever inducted into the East Tennessee Steelworker Hall of Fame, things I didn’t know, wasn’t aware of until meeting these people. She stood up long and hard to fight for, protect, and maintain working people’s integrity, and the integrity and rights of women. My mother had a national reputation for a reason. Apparently the stories are legendary, I have more to hear and I look forward to it. I was there though, I know my mother sought true repentance for the things she did to me, and I know she came to know God through a series of events, from reading and being a part of The Virtual Pew, which I wasn’t aware of until my last visit to Tennessee and recent discussions with Pastor Roy. I know she had detailed and had a terrible thing forgiving herself, but in that struggle, she discovered the ultimate forgiveness from a savior that loves and cares for all people.
I don’t know what the future holds; I continue to film what I can of my last parts of the film My Christmas Journey regarding not just my life but in many ways the life and struggle of my mother. I am more convinced now, more than ever, that my mothers’ story is as much a part of my story as anything I would have ever imagined. I know that because of the obvious change in her life, her obvious regret for sin, but her ongoing desire to help and speak up for others.
The funeral is going to be on Friday at Appalachian Funeral Home in Johnson City Tennessee. After burial we are holding a memorial visitation at the place she fought for, and spoke up for the disenfranchised, her union hall, United Steelworkers Union Hall, Local 7739, 121 ½ Spring Street, Johnson City Tennessee, 37604. In lieu of flowers we are requesting gifts in memory and honor of her to the Johnson City Tennessee Hospice and the United Steelworkers Local 7739 on behalf of the ongoing work needed to support the disenfranchised. For more information regarding the services you can contact the Appalachian Funeral Home in Johnson City. Services will be held again on Tuesday, June 30 at Appalachian Funeral Home, with graveside services at Onks Cemetery on the Johnson City, Jonesboro Highway, followed by a reception and time with friends and family at Local Union Hall 7739.
On a side bar, God comes through, a generous offer has been offered my wife to fly her here to be with me for the funeral but to also be with my sister and family friends. We are hoping our daughter, who is at a convention in Columbus Ohio gets to come down for the funeral as well. God continues to meet our needs through various means, methods, and certainly people. I am grateful for that, I am grateful for you.
In closing on this strange posting, I know God is good, I know God provides, but I also know that God heals and God Saves. I know because God was good enough to provide healing between my mother and I, he was good enough to provide and allow forgiveness to take place, he was good enough to save and offer the love to my mom she needed. I can’t explain the peace that comes from God at this moment. I do know the scripture is true though, God provides peace that passes all understanding. While I can’t explain, the peace I feel, I do know it is peace I experience, not just in the passing of my mother, but the forgiveness, and healing from all sin. I didn’t know a real mother for most of my life as a child, I have experienced it as a husband with my wife, but I got a taste of God’s love in allowing me to experience the love of a mother as a child. While some may be amazed at this potential, especially those who know my story, I am not; God continues to amaze me everyday with the reality that he is God.
I appreciate the continued prayers and support, we need them, but I want to especially thank those who have been involved in the process, you continue to be a tool, used by God and I am grateful.
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