Linda Mercer, thirty nine years old had been sent home from the hospital…(cancer), she was told that she might last a week…at most a month. She had three children, Johnny 14 years old, Sarah 12 years old, and the youngest Jacob who was 10 years old, each child little over two years a part. Linda had a good husband named Jim Mercer very loving husband and father, this particular day he had to work. Linda was at home in a hospital bed, a nurse and Linda’s younger sister Jane, helping with the children and housework.
Linda, this day was thinking about the future and the past, this day in-particular, she was thinking back to her mother and how she died so quickly of a heart-attack. She thought of all the things she wished she’d got to tell her mother and wished her mother her some things too before she died, but it didn’t work out that way. In Linda’s mind, it wasn’t going to be that way between her and her children, she knew there would be some pain on both sides of this conversation, but she wanted them to know how much she loved them and how much they meant to her before she died. With a weak voice she asked her sister Jane to come in to the bedroom, she told her she would like her to get the children and bring them to the bedroom and have some time of privacy alone with them. Jane give Linda a hug then went and told the nurse, then got the three children to come to their mother’s bedroom, Jane closed the door behind her as she left.
Linda didn’t know how to start this conversation, a few tears rolled from her eyes as she begin to talk which she tried to hide. She finally pulled herself together and begin, the children had set down on some chairs and pulled themselves close to the bed, so their mother wouldn’t have to strain her voice. Linda told them, she said, “you all three know that momma’s very sick and the doctors say I haven’t got long to be here, that I’m getting ready to go to heaven.” At this time there were tears from all four, but all wanting this conversation, so Linda cried as she talked and the tears flowed from the three children as they listened.
She went on and begin with Johnny, told him said, ” you’ve always been momma’s little man, and now you’re 14 years old, such a short while ago you was just born. Now son your nearly a man, you were always a loving son, coming to me at different times of the day or evening and just giving me a hug..Johnny you don’t know how much every one of those hugs meant to me. Johnny you were always good to watch over your sister Sarah and even little Jacob although now he’s 10. I remember cold days you out waiting on the bus for school, you acted so brave and big, I’d see you shivering, me wanting to come and give you a big warm hug, but never, afraid the bus would come and you’d be embarrassed. Johnny you were always a little embarrassed if you brought a friend home and the house was a little messy, so on those days I tried a little extra hard for you not to be embarrassed of a messy house..I’d clean it more just for you.”
“Sarah, me and you have always had a relationship that I wish me and my mother would have had. You and I could always talk about anything together, I couldn’t seem to do that with my mother, then she passed away so quickly, so many things I wished I’d told her! You have always loved to have class-mates come home with you and I can remember so many times hearing two little girls giggling late into the night. I often wondered what two little girls could giggle so much about, maybe I have forgot my childhood, but yours seems so happy…I pray it has been and will continue. Sarah, I’m going to miss that special time when you find a mate and get married..well I’ll miss that with all three of you, but there’s just something special about a mother with her daughter at her wedding,” Sarah begin to weep more, her Mother said , “I’ll be there don’t you worry, you may not see me, but in your heart and in your Spirit I’ll be there. Sarah you always had such beautiful blond wavy hair, I use to love to watch you run and your hair bouncing up and down with your smiles and laughs, still do!”
“Last but not least…none of you are least, I had the most wonderful and still do…wonderful children a mother could have. Jacob you was always my tag-along-child. You would tag along holding on to my dress or whatever I was wearing as I worked. Times I thought…I could do more work if he’d go play, then I thought..no I wouldn’t have it any other way. You tagged along holding on to my clothing as I went about till you was almost 7…then when you quit, I missed that part of yours and my life so much…”
Linda broke down crying and weeping, she told the children as they also begin to weep harder..she said, ..”hold it, my crying is mostly happy crying as I look at the three of you so beautiful and handsome children. Your father and I are so proud, I am so happy, all three of you so special. Although the doctor’s say I haven’t got long to live, so far my life has been more happy with you three and your dad than I could have ever dreamed. Something I’m needing right now from all three of you, do you know what it is?” Johnny said, “momma your needing a hug,” “yes,” she said, “from all three of you at once and it had better be a good long hug.”
While they were hugging, her husband Jim had taken off work early and walked in the bedroom door. Walking in he said, “Linda honey, why are you doing this, everyone tore up, miserable?” He walked on over to the bed hugging her and the children also he beginning to weep. She said, “my mom passed on so quickly, how many times I have wished I had said a few last words to her, never got to, but with my children and you I want every precious word.” Jim Mercer had always been a good husband, a good father. He and Linda his wife and children were always in Church on Sunday’s, Jim and Linda both insisted Church and God an intricate part of their family’s life.
Linda Mercer…(mom) passed away three days later, June 19, 1973. Daddy, me, Sarah, and Jacob spent night and day with her till she drew her last breath. I was so happy that momma insisted we stay together till she departed this life and that daddy, not so willingly agreed. Daddy was worried how it would affect us, but now looking back, daddy and us three children knew it all was for the best. Those three days and nights when momma was able, we talked, laughed and cried. So much love our family had and memories, you’d thought momma wasn’t even sick, way she’d bring up old memories and laugh and cry. Momma passed away at about 11:00am, daddy, me, Sarah, Jacob, and Momma in one last hug of momma. Momma’s last few weak words were, “I’ll see all of you in just a little while.” I wouldn’t trade those three days and nights with momma and my family for a mountain of gold!
Daddy was 42 years old at that time, he never did remarry, guess he knew no one could ever take momma’s place. Daddy retired from the plant where he worked in the year 2000 at age 69, he was still active, mowed, kept up the house and yard, did odd jobs. Daddy had bought a new GMC pick-up the year momma died, he never did get rid of it, fixing rusted places, a new motor kept it going.
Everyone around our town called him old man Mercer, that didn’t bother daddy. Us children all still very close to daddy and now grandchildren, me two, Sarah two, and Jacob three. Jacob my funny little brother, although bigger than me, is still tag-along-Jacob. Wherever his wife is and three children, there’s Jacob and that big smile. He reminds me a lot of daddy, his actions, family, just the way he is. Momma would be so happy to see all of us, children and grandchildren with daddy in Church most Sundays.
No one in our town visits the town cemetery more than daddy, that old tan ’73′ pick-up parked near momma’s grave. Old, with a cain and folding chair, he’ll sit there for hours and talk to momma, you know just somehow I think momma hears every word. Towns people say, ” there’s old man Mercer at the cemetery again,” they’d say, ” that old man should have married again instead of being so lonely all these years!” Daddy wasn’t lonely, he had God, you should’ve heard my daddy pray…calm tender voice, talk to God as if best friends..(they were)! Daddy in his mind, momma was still with him, in his mind and spirit, no he wasn’t crazy..he just had an everlasting love for momma.
Daddy passed away a few years ago, January 11, 2010, he was 79 years old nearly 80, died in his sleep so peaceably. Daddy, if he died even sick, us children never knew it and we seen him everyday. I think daddy just went to sleep in the Lord’s arms, his best friend. I found daddy in his bed, picture of momma on the night table, been there for years, I noticed his hand closed. Tears in my eyes I saw a chain, necklace part of the way out of his hand. I gently pulled that necklace with a heart from daddy’s tight gripped cold hands, it was a necklace daddy had bought momma before she died. I pulled it out and opened it and inside was a small photo of my lovely momma at age 39, my daddy had kept it on him all those years. so precious. We buried daddy beside momma, with that necklace and that picture, a few days after his death.
Well old man Mercer, he’s at the cemetery again!!