There was so much that was heart-rending about my Mom’s descent into physical and mental nothingness – watching this lion of a woman, this commanding speaker, this extraordinary leader lose her capacities, especially her capacity to communicate, was so hard.
Yet through it all, into her mostly-silence, into her not knowing where she was or whom she was with, she never stopped saying “thank you”.
When her aides struggled to put on or take off her clothes, she said “thank you”. When she had to be reminded to open her mouth to be fed, she said “thank you”. When she was lifted into or out of her wheelchair, she said “thank you”. When we said “hi, Mom” and “goodbye, Mom”, she said “thank you”. When she ceased speaking any other words, my Mom still whispered “thank you”, every day, to everyone.
Even when we thought Mom was no longer Mom, she was still teaching us.
And so this Lent, on this year’s first anniversary of my Mom’s slipping the bonds of mortal life to take on the mantle of life eternal, I will strive with God’s help to make my most-oft spoken phrase that simple, that essential “thank you”.