Mary Virginia Babikow DiBernardo Swain……

…was my mother-in-law. Isn’t that a whopper of titles? I used to get Jeannette to say it all! Last Saturday, November 17th she left us and went to be with Jesus. Or as my grandson, Marlowe, put it, “She’s dead.” It was an up and down two days, but we are thankful that she went fairly easily. I always hesitate to write during or right after these events because my brain seems so swimmy, and am always glad when someone else does! At the same time, I want to write while thoughts, however mobile, are rolling around in my head and I don’t want to forget them in the hubbub of life. So this is about what I don’t want to forget, no matter how swimmy they sound.

   The weather has been beautiful all week. The last of the trees to have leaves are mostly yellow and the sun would catch that color and made them shine like jewels among the other bare trees. There is a winterberry ‘farm’ on our way to the retirement community where she lived and they are also glowing this time of year. The stars were beautiful every night. The last two visits we had before she got sick I went one of them and Joel went the last, so we each had time special with her, without knowing it would be our last. So grateful. Our kids, except for Luisa who lives the farthest, all got to see her and speak with her before she died. I was nervous about being able to watch her struggle through the throes of death. When we got there Friday night we were pretty sure we would be there till she died as her pulse had dropped and her eyes were fixed. I felt such peace as I walked into her room and sat beside her. I played her some quiet music and talked, reciting Psalm 23, and keeping a hold of her hand. She didn’t change the rest of the night except for looking from Jeannette to me and back. Joel and I left to get some rest around 3:30 with no idea how long this stage would be. Joel went back and I stayed home with the boys and Jeannette left her around noon. By the time she got home Joel called and said she had slipped off. Earlier the nurses came to say goodbye to her. We were constantly amazed at their tender care of her. I used to have guilty feelings over not caring for my MIL in our home but as I sat through the ‘quarterly meetings’ I was in awe of how well they took care of her whole person. We would have driven her crazy! Our family came, our church family came, our co-workers came, our former co-workers came to her service. Our church family does what church families do best during this time and that was feed us! Joel’s family has always been in the greenhouse business and sometimes the line between family and business relations are a little blurry. Currently, he works for a man who used to work alongside him for his uncles and who bought greenhouses his uncles sold for his own business. Some of these people are at every family event. I think in April of 2008 I wrote about working on the greenhouse. One of the greenhouse friends said, “That was the best funeral I have ever been to! Usually the preacher goes on and on but you talked about her. I feel like I know her!”  Joel made the eulogy the main event, culling from her journals and photo albums. Our sons read Scripture and emails from friends in Florida that Joel had invited them to send. One SIL played the prelude and to me, it was amazingly beautiful. Cousin Cathy shared for her dad who was not quite 2 years younger than his sister and had always been close, and concluded with a great letter Mary had written her several years ago. Jeannette read what she wanted to say and then posted it in her blog which you can probably find from FB, if you haven’t already.  Mary Celeste helped me lead “Come on up to Mt Zion” at the end of the service. Luisa sang ‘No Night There’ with me. I sang that for Mary a few years ago into her answering machine. On the way home, Luisa was the only one in the car with us and I turned to her and said, ”You and I are singing buddies!” (She sang with me at my dad’s funeral a few years ago, as well as several times during high school) and Joel pipes up, “You and I are drinking buddies!” They went out tonight for wings and beer! I’m sitting at home writing this blog. Everybody is happy.

Good Night and God Bless

…….time for Chrrrriiiiiistmas!!!!


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