“You are the cat’s meow” is what she told me and taught me how to carry myself as such. I grew up four houses down from her on the same street and I saw her every day of my life until I left for college. It was she who brought me to my first day of school for kindergarten and because I was crying my little 5 year old eyes out, she handed me her handkerchief to wipe the tears away.
She was my granmother – Mudda. “Mudda” because my sister couldn’t pronounce ‘mother‘ as a small child and this was how my daddy and his siblings referred to their mom – Mother. Naturally, I followed in my sister’s footsteps and the moniker stuck.
To say Mudda played an important role in my life and had a profound effect on me is a gross understatement. However, I find it almost impossible to put into words how much she meant to me.
Mudda was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the winter of 1995 and when she made her heavenly transition in April of 1996, she was 82 years old. A long full life some will say. I would agree although I wish she could have been around longer.
During those months while the disease ravished her body I questioned why God would have her suffer so. I learned then, and I still believe today, that nothing happens by chance or coincidence. Mudda’s life had purpose and so did her death, even the process of her dying had purpose. The most important thing was healing a rift that had developed between my dad and me. Because of that, the last words my father and I said to each other before he died nine months after she did were “I love you”. For that, I am forever grateful.
Shortly before Mudda’s death, maybe a week or so, I was told Mudda had what some have called a deathbed vision. Carla Wills-Brandon describes a deathbed vision as:
…an “otherworldly” experience the dying and their family members encounter just before death. The dying will report visions of angels, deceased loved ones, or religious figures, moments hours, days or even weeks before actual death occurs. [SOURCE]
A life long friend was sitting with Mudda who had been unresponsive and appeared to be staring off into space. She would have moments of coherency when she would speak of loved ones who had already died. It was during one of these moments when she had no real expression on her face one moment but in the next, her face lit up and her eyes filled with love. Her next statement left the friend in awe and amazement as she uttered, “Come on in Jesus’.
My theory on what happened in that room was that God almighty himself, the Good Sheppard, came to usher my grandmother home – to heaven. Because of the many stories of near death experiences about approaching a light and not wanting to return and being taught in church how wonderful a place heaven is, it was my belief that my Mudda had forgotten about me.
How could she have forgotten about me when I loved her so very much and I knew she loved me?
In the weeks following her death I didn’t sleep much because of this thought, this worry.
I was 29 years old and working at a small consulting firm as an administrative assistant where one of my duties was to file away business cards in one of the four large Rolodex files. One day as I was performing this mundane task, Mudda was weighing heavily on my mind and my heart. As I turned the wheel of the Rolodex, the file landed on a business card I had not seen before and immediately the tears began to flow and I sobbed.
There on this business card was Mudda’s name – Laura L. Sterling.
It was in that moment she let me know that she had not forgotten about me. I was so comforted by this and from that night on, sleep came easy. I worked at this company for about a year and a half and no matter how much I searched, I never found the card again.
This experience left me with the belief that she is my guardian angel watching over me and to this day it gives me great comfort and peace.