Wisdom Workout: A Chapterʼs End

By Susan McNeal Velasquez.

My mother loved cameos. Womenʼs profiles carved in ivory on a sepia, blue, or black background and made into a brooch or pendant.

We sat at the dining room table, my three sisters, my sister-in-law, and two of my nieces, rummaging through jewelry boxes of Momʼs favorite things.

Religious medals, costume jewelry, and then varied cameo earrings, pins and pendants scattered throughout.

A guilty pleasure when I was a little girl was to tip toe into her room when no one noticed and look through her jewelry, spray on her perfume, and dab on her lipstick.

This was different. Communal snooping. I made note that when I get home I am cleaning out all my drawers.

My mother, Margaret Mary Shwedo Beggins, died on Nov. 19, 2012. She was in her 90th year.

Mom was ready to die. Really and truly. As her memory faded, along with her interest in reading, writing, or who was doing what, death became her only real curiosity.

When is it coming? Why am I still here? How long do I have to sit here with my bags packed and ticket in hand?

It sounds morbid but we had lively discussions and many laughs over the subject. “Sleep is like death minus the commitment.” How she loved sleeping. She was tired. Bone tired, she often said.

She birthed and raised 11 children, starting at a time when you hung the wash on a clothesline, made everyoneʼs Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes, cooked from scratch, cleaned, washed cloth diapers, canned fruit from the trees in the yard and tried her best to bring us up as God (fearing) loving, responsible adults.

She is survived by seven sons, four daughters, 25 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren, with one on the way; 49 plus one due in March.

Can you even imagine being the conduit for that many people? She had every right to be unapologetically exhausted.

I feel happy that she is free. There is an empty space in my heart and mind that is carefully being filled by the loving care that has come from so many places this past week. My mind says: “I need to call Mom.” No. “I wonder how Mom is doing?” No.

Curious, this process of letting go.

I am in Houston. The visitation is tonight. The funeral is Tuesday. The family is gathering. It is a rite of passage that we have all been anticipating. Soon it will be time to breathe out and surrender to the process of letting go.


Susan is the author of Beyond Intellect: Journey Into the Wisdom of Your Intuitive Mind. Reach her at: susanvelasquez.com or (949) 494-7773.

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