It’s been one year since my mother passed away. It should have been a very very sad time, but oddly it was not. This had been the sign from me once again that Allah truly hears the call of the caller when he is calling.
I had been raised by my father’s cousin who did not have any other children. She had been on point with her duties as a single mother, but minus the outward shows of affection. As a teen I decided to leave the small college town of Ithaca, New York and live with my natural mother in the city of Philadelphia. I was greeted with her disappointment that I left the home intended for my upbringing. Never the less I stayed on in Philadelphia with family until my shahaadah a couple years later. All this time I was still in touch with my “mother”. She also left New York and returned to her childhood home in South Carolina. I maintained contact and continued to visit over the years, although never as frequent as she would prefer, and I was often reminded of that.
As she got older and less mobile she still insisted on remaining in her home on her family property “alone and independent”. I offered to move there to care for her, but was always told to just come and visit. There were few conversations about Islam, as it was viewed as “that stuff you are doing”.Whenever I was questioned about Islam in her presence I gladly told all that I could, with the intention that she hear it also. I read Qur’an out loud with her in the room. It all seemed to fall on deaf ears. I still wanted her to understand the beauty of what I lived. I was constant in salaat, and was respectful at all times with the intention that she see that Islam teaches us to be very polite. I gave her pictures with Allah’s names.She did say she liked that. The name al-Mujeeb was still on her coffee table the last time I was in the house.( Al Mujeeb is the One Who Answers Prayers.)
Then three years ago I married a man whom my mother considered the worst person in the world, and she had no problem letting me know her opinion:
Mom: He just wants you to take care of those children.(That’s marriage. We help each other)
Husband: How can you really do anything for her in two days a month? You are on the highway almost as long as the time you get to visit. (Well, she just likes to see me.)
Mom: What kind of man is that who won’t let you come here to help me like you been doin’? (Repeat line one- he just wants you to take care of those kids.)
Husband: What if something happens to her?
Mom: You need to get away from that and just keep taking care of yourself.
Husband: How can you help her from way up here? (security question- now I’m worried about her at night in the dark country alone in a little house…and her sister did get attacked in that area years ago…)
Stress was building and tears were flowing but only on the rug. Oh Allah…. Ya Rabb….. All I knew was that I needed to take care of this lady who just could not care for herself, and who did not want to live with me, but now wanted me to come to a place in the country with no other Muslims for miles (one hour drive in both directions). At this point let me add that this “home” was to be inherited by cousins of mine because as previously stated, she was my father’s cousin. Nothing on paper. And the one thing that will bring out the worst with many families is money and property. Needless to say, when the inevitable happens I’m out in the cold if I’m still there. I needed this man to allow me space in his house for my mother. Month after month passed. Her condition worsened. I visited by train this time, but only for a day. What could I do? She still did not want to come back with me and I still could not broach the subject of wills and inheritance, so leaving the new family to come south was not an option.
I just continued to pray and do what I could do for her from a distance, which was very stressful. I heard Muhammad as Shareef talk about dua and the six duas for the year. Taking care of mother was number one. She had been in and out of the hospital, then nursing homes. The one niece who was helping regularly was getting tired. The other family was busy. Neighbors were few. She still insisted that she could stay home. Alone.
Then Allah opened the gates. A cousin offered to bring her from a nursing home to Philadelphia on the train. At the same time my husband was saying I could just go on and move there, but to that I said, “No, bring her here”. In four days she was at the train station. This was not the outspoken woman I knew from childhood. Most of the rough edges had given in to time and battling dementia. What was left was the manners she had taught me. Plus the class. My husband showed her the respect due to a parent, and most of all the children who she said were wasting my time were actually her new best friends! One in particular, the middle girl, became her personal nurse and companion. Each morning before leaving for school she gave mom her hug, and upon coming back she headed straight for her room to say hi, and to check on her. Often times I would see them engaging in coloring or my (then first grade) daughter reading to her, or just taking a nap wrapped in each other’s arms.
Now this man who was the worst ever became “a good man” after seeing how he helped her down the stairs, talked to her regularly, and especially saw to it that she had her favorite vanilla ice cream!
I played Qur’an and read stories of the prophets in her room to her and the children. My mother seemed to perk up when she heard familiar names of prophets. I heard the words “I love you” and “Do you love me?” for the first time in my life during these four short months before she passed. It was with pleasure that I took care of her as best as I could, not being medically trained. She told me I was doing good. First time for that one, too. So when I asked her to repeat a “prayer” for me she was glad to, and so repeated the shahaadah.
She lay resting one night but was breathing heavily. As my husband left the room she squeezed his hand and continued to just lay quietly. I left the room to tell him something, and called the nurse to see why she was breathing heavily. When the nurse arrived my husband went with him to her room, and then came to tell me she was gone. Suddenly, at midnight while the girls were sleeping. They took her body away in an hour. For some reason my daughter did not go into her room that next morning to say good morning. When she came home we told her that the angels took Grandmom Julia away. She was okay with that. Who would get mad at an angel?
At this time one year later I’m just finishing learning sura Waqiah. When I get to the end portion, the ayats can be translated to mean “Then why do you not (intervene) when (the soul of a dying person) reaches the throat? And you at the moment are looking on. But We are nearer to him than you, but you see not. Then why do you not if you are exempt from the reckoning and recompense, bring back the soul if you are truthful? Then if he (the dying person) be of the Muqarrabun (those brought near to Allah) (there is for him) rest and provision and a Garden of delights. And if he be of those on the right hand, then there is safety and peace for those on the right hand. But if he be of the denying, the erring, then for him is an entertainment with boiling water. And burning in hell fire. Verily, this! This is an absolute Truth with certainty. So glorify with praises the Name of your Lord, the Most Great. .Sura Waqiah Ayats 83 to the end 96.
What a reminder! I love perfect timings.
Thank you for reading to the end of a quite long story made kind of short.