This year Mother’s Day came early for the Levihn Family as we gathered on April 25 for a final goodbye to our mother Dorothy (Poppe) Levihn. Mom took seriously ill and was taken to the hospital where the doctors gave us six sibs the decision to either use extraordinary means to keep her alive for a few days or to give her compassionate care to ease her journey from this world to the next. Naturally it was a unanimous decision to choose the latter course. With my youngest two siblings Bill and Brenda at her side, mom quietly slipped away on April 20. Losing your mother is one of the most devasting loses a person can experience, second only to losing a child.
At first there was a flurry of activity – calls to relatives, funeral arrangements, flowers, music, and obituary details. Thankfully mom had chosen her outfit, her favorite hymns and Bible scripture readings so we didn’t have to second guess “What would mom want?” I knew the hymn “Just as I am without one plea” would be one of them as it was her confirmation hymn. What would be the chance that her funeral would be the day before her confirmation anniversary? She always told us she was confirmed on April 26, the latest date on which Easter can fall.
This was truly a family affair: brother Bill met with the funeral home staff. Bill, Charles, Brenda and her husband Scott selected the family flowers and casket spray. My son Robert, his wife Kimberly and little Eldon drove in from Maryland while my sister Karen and husband Tom drove in from Texas. There was nothing like the presence of a 17-month-old boy to bring smiles to grieving family and friends during the visitation hours. After the visitation hours were over, Bill gave the funeral director the Mother’s Day gift he had already purchased: A pair of slippers to be placed on her feet.
Pastor Matt Douglas of Our Shepherd Church (Avon, Ind) was wonderful as he met with the family before the visitation and before the service began. He had a personal relationship with my mom, having often taken communion to her at her home and leaving with a piece of cake for his wife and news clippings that she thought would be of interest to him. When my mother was placed in a memory care unit, he continued to visit her until Covid struck and for two years he was not allowed to visit her. When he finally was able to resume his visits, she no longer recognized him. That’s what dementia does to people. His message to us was Dorothy may have forgotten God, but God did not forget Dorothy.
My Mom’s casket was carried by her three sons, two sons-in-law and grandson.
I was praying to be at my mother’s side when she passed. Early that Thursday morning I was in my car ready to pick up brother Richard when I got a text that she had died. That left me thinking what I could do for my mother. My brother Richard had told me years ago that my mother wanted me to recite the Lord’s Prayer in German at her funeral. At her committal service Pastor Douglas invited me to stand and pray it “Auf Deutsch” followed by everyone praying it in English.
I wanted to do something more… something more personal. When you think of your mother at a time like this, you think of all the deeds she did for you when you were little including tucking you in at night. After the church visitation was over and before the service began, surrounded by my siblings, I laid our mother down into her casket and tucked in the front extend over and drew the overlay skirt over her body while softly talking to her. That moment of connection will stay with me forever.
So come May 14th, I’m not certain how I’ll commemorate the day, but one thing is for certain: I’ll be thinking of my now pain-free mother in heaven!
Lois Levihn is the owner of Born Again Quilts. If you have a quilt or other textile story you’d like to share, contact her at 260-515-9446 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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