This is the hardest trail I have ever encountered. The trail of hardship, of pain and suffering and letting go. The woman who birthed me, who raised me to be the adventurous spirit that I am, lost her fight today. Wanda Mae Gilbert is my mom. She is a spitfire, flaming red hair, tall and strong, and did I mention, drop dead gorgeous! When she was younger, she was a model and sought after seamstress. She even tried out to be a Rockette, but was told she was an inch too short. They truly missed the boat because her legs would’ve made up for any deficiency in height!
She has been in and out of the hospital for the past couple of weeks. Mom had many underlining conditions which were exasperated by COVID. This is such a cruel virus as some have no idea they even have it, while others are fighting for their lives. Mom came home the night before last. She was quite weak but honestly, we wanted her home instead of sitting in a not-so-sterile hospital. Memorial Hospital has some incredible nurses and doctors but there is “no place like home.” Yesterday, was a good day. She was smiling, trying to eat some Cream of Wheat, and doing the best she could to get through the day.
Mom is one of those old school gals who never quits. She fights even when she really doesn’t need too any longer. My Dad Jerry, Sister Kari and I have been taking shifts at holding Moms hand, trying to calm her breathing, and just comforting her. Honestly, she is still comforting us as she reaches out to hold our hands in between gulps of air. I had no idea how truly strong this woman is, but I do know the strength of the Lord endures forever.
“But the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, he himself restores you, makes you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10
Mom has exemplified strength, steadfastness, and pure grit. In life, she raised two awesome women, my sister Kari and myself, and became the first woman, let alone the first business ever to acquire rights from both Walt Disney and Warner Brothers to embroider cartoon characters on her designer jeans, shirts and sweaters. Yes, I was pretty popular in high school between Cartoon Characters of America (CCA) clothing along with all things Sassoon Jeans. I get it. If you are not a product of the 60-70’s, you probably have never heard of Sassoon Jeans but the cool kids all had them! Mom was the designer and purchaser of all fabrics for these Jeans. But truly Mom’s most important role was inducing me to Jesus Christ. She enrolled me to First Baptist Church of Van Nuys for school when I was five years old. I learned many scriptures, memorized Psalms but more important, I had a personal relationship with Jesus, and nothing could stand in my way.
Today, my Dad Jerry, my sister Kari, my husband George and I had the pleasure of sending Mom home to live eternally with Jesus Christ. We were so fortunate that Mom was escorted home two nights ago by a fancy limousine called an ambulance. She was too weak to go from the hospital to our private car but she was strong enough to have two wonderful Medical Technicians bring her home. We called Hospice today, who are angels in their own right, and they proceeded to assist us through the next stage of life. Nurse Laurie was the absolute sweetest woman who just knew how to walk us through the final steps of Mom’s life on earth. We didn’t expect that we would be saying goodbye to her earthly existence quite so soon, but our Heavenly Father had already prepared her way. We spent the day praying with Mom, loving her and holding her hand, caressing her and making sure that there were no unspoken words. Why is our amazing God so gracious that he gives us this precious time to say all we needed to say to our loved ones? Mom was laboring and as the meds arrived, Dad crawled in bed with Mom. Shortly afterwards, she breathed her last breath. As Dad left to take a much needed respite, Kari and I felt Mom’s humanly spirit leave her body. It was the most peace we had experienced all day.
My Mother was and is the one who taught me to love. She had an unconditional love that could only be described as the love of Jesus. She didn’t have a mean bone in her body, never held a grudge and to her last day, had a smile on her face and didn’t complain. I am one amazingly blessed woman with a modern-day example of love. The hope I have is that I will see this beautiful lady again. She is made anew, no pain, no suffering, no dementia, no fractured back, no heart disease, and no COVID. She is whole, singing and dancing and having one heck of a reunion in heaven. Thank you Mom for being the best friend a daughter could ever have. And thank you Jesus for your mercy and taking wondrous Wanda home to be in your loving arms!
Grief is the last act of love we have to give to those we loved. Where there is deep grief, there was great love.
7 thoughts on “The Strength of the Lord”
My heart breaks for you and your family Kelly. What a blessing to be able to comfort your mom during her eternal journey to her resting place in heaven. There is nothing that will ever replace the love we were given by our Mom’s. Loving thoughts and healing prayers. Muriel
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Oh Kelly…I am so sorry, but so gratified to read your words and know you had such a strong relationship with your mom. She does indeed sound special – and she gave you so much of her spirit. Stay strong my friend and relish all those wonderful and precious memories.
Kelly, that’s a beautiful tribute to your Mom. I’m saddened for you and your family for your loss but at the same time happy for you that you are at peace with her passing and have such great memories of her. May she rest in peace and live forever in your heart.
My Dear Kelly,
Its 6am in Hawaii, I cried & also rejoiced at same time, reading your beautifully expressed words.
God has his hands on your heart so close and your family, each steps of your way.
Your Mom’s amazing spirit lives in you and I see that all the time…..
Fire in your Spirit and relentless faithfulness in every mountains you climb, is the testimony to everyone who is so blessed to known you, witnessed your walk with God.
Sending you Many many hugs to you my dearest Kelly…..
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Thank you Nanhee! She was a huge influence in my life. My guiding light of wisdom and love.
Thank GOD for the strong Mom’s he has given us. May we never lose the memories.
Karl & Vicki
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She was strong to the end! Such beautiful memories that will last till we meet again
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