Friday, November 13, 2015

My Mother

My Mom on her wedding day at the Oakland Temple 1977.

The month of October was a bit of a shock for me. My mom had been sick for the past 3 years, but was seeing doctors regularly. We didn't know what exactly was wrong with her. She felt tired, she had problems walking and would fall... the doctors were worried about her heart.

One Friday she hadn't called me in the morning and I got really worried. My dad found her in the bedroom and she couldn't get up. They rushed her to the hospital where she spent a few days in ICU and seemed to get better. When they transferred her to a different room she started bleeding and they couldn't tell from where.

I was used to these type of episodes where she would lose coherency. Her last words to me were, "Get the Bollywood off me." (Oh how magical this is, I can't even tell you.)

The doctors did an emergency procedure to stop an ulcer, which she survived, but had to be put on a breathing machine. It was all downhill from there. Come to find out, she had end stage liver disease. She was such a trooper. We had no clue. It was pretty traumatic trying to decide with my dad what to do. We prayed, went to the temple... so many things were wrong with her. Would I feel guilty for having to take her off life support? She never would want to live that way. Thankfully, I've felt nothing but peace.

I spent hours each night talking to her. Holding her hand and telling her the same things over and over. I love you. You are so beautiful. Thank you for everything. We had sacred moments together even though she was comatose.

The great thing is that she already knew that. She is my best friend. My number one fan. And I am hers. I am grateful in the knowledge that came through the death of my son- nothing separates a loving mother from their child, not even death. I have felt her close by. I know she is safe, free, and most importantly- I know that she lived a good life. She was an angel and is an angel.

My daughter Christina (age 11), who was named after my mother, came to see her one night. She threw her arms around her Yaya and cried. I thought I knew grief. But I was wrong. Seeing your child grieve gives new meaning to that type of pain.

And yet, through all that pain, it just means that the love was so very deep. It's that type of love and even more that The Savior and our Heavenly Father have for us. There is not a doubt in my mind that They are real. That They carry us. That They live up to Their promises and comfort us when we need comfort.

Words hold power. The spirit prompted for her headstone, "Always loving, always loved."

I hope you don't mind if I share a little bit about her. She taught me everything I knew.

My mom was crazy fun. She was such a party animal. She brought so much joy, happiness, and love to all those around her.

My mom always told me I was beautiful. Even stuffed in 80's frocks, I felt like a princess swaying to the beat of Phil Collins.
Oh mom. It's going to be a long haul. But I'm so grateful for the years I did get with you. And I look forward to having you be one of the first people to hug me when I pass through the veil.
Thanks to Heavenly Father for making this life a wonderful one, one where you are my mother.
Just so you know, we're Greek. And it really is like My Big Fat Greek wedding. There are 5 different Christina's in the eulogy. It's tradition to name after your mother or mother in law. Yaya means grandmother in Greek too.


Rach said...

Sorry to hear of your loss. What a tribute to her, and it's touching to hear she knew how much you loved her...makes me want to make sure my own mother knows that too.
Thanks for sharing something so personal.

Kim said...

I am sorry for your loss. You don't know me. But I read your blog monthly for your wonderful primary ideas, so I feel like I know you just a tiny bit. When I didn't see anything come up for November, I was a little worried. And then I read your post and sat here and cried. Your mother must be a wonderful woman and that is a beautiful tribute. Thank you for posting.

Sofia's Primary Ideas said...

Sister Rach & Sister Kim- Thank you so much for your condolences. You are so wonderful to take the time out and offer such kindness.

Em said...

My condolences to you and your family. I came here to check out your November ideas today and saw this. I'm so very sorry for the loss of your mother. She looks like she was a wonderful person and cherished mother. Thank you for sharing about her life!

Ilynn Ilynn said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. I moved in with my parents 5 years ago to help my mom take care of my dad. He had a terminal illness and passed away 3 years ago. I wasn't as close to him as I am my mom but my son was very close to him. My dad and my son had a very special bond that was formed when he was an infant. Watching my baby grieving was horrible! I am a mamas girl and my mom is my best friend. I am here taking care of her. She is 84 and amazing. She has a lot of health problems and I am terrified of the day that I lose her. Reading the words you shared about your mom and your words of wisdom made me feel a little more comfortable with the losing her part so thank you for that. My prayers a re with you as you and your family heal.

Ilynn Priebe

PS I am 1st counselor in the primary and I do sharing time. Thank you for your ideas, I use the pretty much every week!

Laynie said...

I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I love your blog, I visit it often for Primary ideas, and I appreciate all the time you take to share your ideas. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this time.

Jen said...

I am so sorry for your loss. You are a great tribute to your mother. Love and prayers to you in this time of grief.

Maksymov Family said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your experience. I felt such peace as I read it and I was reminded of the comfort that comes from our faith in eternal families. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Heaven Smiling said...

what a beautiful tribute to your mother. She looks like she knew how to have a great time. I love that parking meter picture! My heart goes out to you and your family - especially your sweet daughter. May God bless you.

Anonymous said...

I think all of those who are inspired and helped so much by your great ideas and willingness to share, can see how you were inspired and taught by the example of a truly great mother! Prayers for continued peace for you and your family!

Karen said...

So sorry for your loss! I visit your blog regularly and feel as though I know you and I was so sad to read this but the photos of your mom and her last words gave me a giggle! Thanks so much for sharing.

KT said...

I am so sorry for your loss! Thank you for sharing a glimpse of your remarkable mother with us, what a beautiful person she was and what a wonderful legacy she leaves behind! Your blog has been inspiring me through several years of primary service, as has the obvious testimony and love you put into it! I hope that same testimony and love continue to bring you peace as you grieve. Your family will be in my prayers.

Vanessa W said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Reading this broke my heart for you. My mom passed away from end stage liver disease in May. It was a two year struggle and was so hard to diagnose. She had all of the same classic liver failure symptoms as your mom and I was taking her to all of the wrong doctors. I just want you to know that someone understands. My heart still breaks for missing my mom, but the gospel is what makes it hopeful in the end. Thank you for all you do and if you ever want someone to chat with privately through email about your experience feel free to respond and I can send you my information.

Anonymous said...

I've never posted a comment before, but I wanted to tell you that I read what you wrote about your mother. It was absolutely beautiful, and I can't help but tell you! She sounds amazing, absolutely amazing!! What a wonderful example of a truly Christlike person! Thank you for putting so much heart and detail into your tribute to her. It was enjoyable to feel like i had known her! Your tribute to her life has inspired me to want to be like her. My heart goes out to you and your family in this period of grieving. I can tell your children are very close to their yaya. My grandpa and i were very close and i was worried about handling his passing. I asked Heavenly Father to let me know my grandpa was happy and safe. In the 2 years since his passing i have had multiple dreams in which i see my dear grandpa and interact with him. He's always healthy, happy, strong and smiling! And he's still got the twinkle in his eye!! The dreams have been more comforting than i could've imagined. I don't know what exactly it will be that gives each of you comfort and peace, but i know He has a plan to provide you with what you need! May the Savior's endless love wrap you all in comfort, healing, loveand peace.
(PS, thank you for the many inspired ideas give shared; I've used lots and lots!)

Sofia's Primary Ideas said...

Dearest Sisters-
I am more than overwhelmed by your generous and loving words. I cannot even begin to tell you the comfort they bring. I am so humbled that you would take the time to say such beautiful things. God bless you. You are as Jerry Spinelli would say, "bendable light" shining goodness around every corner and illuminating my life with consolation.

Thank you!!!

jonna said...

may the blessings you've given us thru your blog and spirit-filled ideas be returned to you 100-fold! you inspire so many. sounds like a legacy that has been passed down from your best friend/mom. i'm so sorry for your loss. may you and your family be blessed with peace.

Heidi said...

We don't know each other, but I have so appreciated the sacrifice you have made to share your work with us. It has been a great blessing to me and my primary and has allowed me to focus on the spirit during my lessons. Thank you, more importantly, for sharing your tribute to your mother. What beautiful words for her headstone....may your heart and the hearts of your husband, children and family be comforted.

Chamberlin said...

Thank you for your beautiful tribute to your mother. May the Spirit buoy you in the days ahead and fill you with love from Heavenly Father.

Julia J said...

This is so touching! I cried the whole way through thinking about your beautiful mother. We need more Christina Ahtipis Withers in our world!
I use your sharing time helps so much. Every time I read your blog, I feel the Spirit. I feel your love for the Savior. I know your mother taught you these things and I thank you and her for your testimonies and love for the gospel.