Just beyond the horizon

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My mom, Arlene Marie Moore died Wednesday, June 12 at the New Hope Post Acute Care Center in Tracy after a long illness. Mom was born in the city of Lemoore and moved to Tracy when she was very young. She attended Banta Elementary School, graduated Tracy High School and was an usherette at the Grand Theater in her late teens. She was a member of St. Bernard’s Catholic Church, loved to cook for her family and spent nearly 69 years of her life in Tracy. She is survived by my father Gene, her husband of nearly 53 years, my brother Gene II and me. She was 76-years-old when she passed away and a piece of me died along with her that day.

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Where do I begin? My mom had been sick for the last couple of years. Deep in my heart I knew she would not be with us too much longer. I watched her slowly grow weaker, the spark in her eyes had dimmed. I got a call from my dad one day while I was at work to come home, we needed to get mom to the hospital.  A few weeks later another call to come down to the rest home, she was not looking good, he didn’t know how much time she had with us. Dad and I took turns sitting with mom holding her hand, talking to her and trying to comfort her.  She didn’t talk much lying in the bed as we sat with her.  At one point mom placed her arm around my neck and gave the last hug she would ever give me.  The next day, her last day, the family gathered to be with her. A priest came by and gave her the Last Rites. I fought back tears as the priest gave her the blessing.  She died a few hours later.

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It has taken me over two weeks to really be able to talk about my mom’s passing.  Some things that happened in the room I can’t talk about yet, and I’m not sure if I ever will with anyone outside the family. Some of the things I said to my mom are for her only. I did tell her that one day soon she would be able to come with me on the trail as I go on my adventures. She could walk beside me in the sunlight and gentle breezes and see the wonderful sights I have come to know. The day after she died dad and I went to the funeral home to make the arrangements.  We decided to have photos placed in the coffin along with mom so she wouldn’t be alone. Dad picked a photo from their wedding day, a photo of the family with my grandmothers, and a picture of my brother and me with my mom’s parents.  I picked of a photo of my brother and I when I was no more than 5, walking in the wind along the coast.  I didn’t want mom to forget us.

mom and dad with frank and jeanette croppedI looked through the photographs I had in my collection and I didn’t have too many of mom.  She was a lot like me, she didn’t like being in front of the camera. I think that’s why I became a photographer; it’s safer that way.  Dad had lots of pictures of mom from their wedding and some from their days at Tracy High. It’s funny how I can remember all the little things that mom did for us that never seemed to get photographed.  All the days she spent cooking for, walking to the store with mom, the times reading to me, comforting me when I was sick, singing me a song when I was in bed and afraid of the dark.  All the moments that makes up a life filled with love and caring. No pictures, just my memories.  They float and ebb back and forth in my mind at night when I lie awake in bed.  I remember the good times and the bad and her last few months.  It’s a picture album in my mind that I can’t describe or share with anyone.  Memories and images of a life I shared for almost 50 years.

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At the funeral service the deacon said something that I have thought about everyday since then. He said family and friends that have passed before us are never really gone.  Their bodies may no longer be here but their spirit, the soul remains. The deacon said the souls remain just out of sight, just beyond the horizon.

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In my sadness and grief I have shed many tears and felt the longing of the piece of my heart that has been taken away. Some days are better than others. Sometimes it doesn’t seem fair that she is gone, others I think it is just part of the cycle of life. When I am at my saddest I think back to the deacon’s last words to me to keep the good memories alive.  I have tried to remember my mom the way she would me want me to.  I was her son, and no matter how sick she was, no matter how confused in thought or deep in pain I know she loved me, unconditionally and without end.

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When my time to leave this world comes I pray that one day I will be able to hold her hand once again and walk with her in the sunlight. Until that day when we can be together again I know she will be waiting for me.  Just out sight, just beyond the horizon.

I won’t say goodbye but instead I will say see you later mom. I miss you so much. Don’t worry about us, we will take of each other, it’s your turn to rest.

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I love you mom, always and forever.