I MUST STICK AROUND.
A tribute to my mother;
Laura Lenoir Carter
Sunrise: July 24, 1928 Sunset: January 10, 2003
My mother, Laura Carter was a patient in a hospital in St. Louis, Missouri in 1999. She had been living in a nursing home since 1998. She suffered from many health aliments including diabetes and congestive heart failure. I visited her every evening and knew when she was not well. Often, her lungs would fill up with fluids and this meant that she would be transported to the nearest hospital. I was always with her during these trips. Each time she went to the hospital,
she was always close to death. I was always nervous that I would lose her.
She spent many hours in the emergency room and was always sent to the intensive care floor.
It was always nerve wrecking because my brother was very ill and I had to look after him as well. I was not ready to lose my mother and my brother at the same time. I wanted just
a little more time with her. I was a minister in those years and this was a test of faith and trust
in God. I could counsel other people when their loved ones were deathly ill, now I needed counsel. I needed something to lift my spirit.
As I stood by my mother’s bed in the intensive care ward, I wondered if this was the time for her to go. There was still so much that I needed to say, so much that I needed to do. Would she be leaving me? I knew that I would have to wait. It was so hard to see a parent suffer and even harder to think about the reality of losing a parent.
Mama made it through and I was relieved. She was in the intensive care ward only three days. I knew that she had pulled through because one morning she called me. “Michael, before you come over, stop at the nursing home and get my walker and the mask for my breathing machine. Don’t forget to bring me a bag of sugar-free peppermints and a Soap Opera Digest.” Sugar-free peppermints and a copy of the latest
Soap Opera Digest! When I heard her request these items in a strong clear voice, I knew that nothing could dampen her spirits.
I picked everything she had requested, I rushed over to the hospital. When I entered her room, a nurse was there and I stood by the door and waited until the nurse had finished with her task.
“Mrs. Carter.” The nurse said, “It’s amazing that every time you come here, you’re always at the brink of death, then you bounce back. That’s amazing.”
“Not really.” Then she pointed at me. “I must stick around long enough to drive him nuts!”
This was an example of how my mother bore her illnesses, with grace and humor. I had seen this many times during my years in the ministry and as I looked after my mom. There were times when she almost drove me nuts, but looking back to this and many other times, I would not have traded my times with her for anything in the world.
Mom left me on January 10, 2003. It was six months after the passing of my brother. She left me with her humor and grace as I face my own different struggles. If anything I learned to have the faith and strength to keep pressing on, these lessons came from her.
I am glad that mom stuck around for seventy-four years. She did not drive me nuts; instead, she gave me an example of strength and grace in difficult times.