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An afternoon we won't forget

Terri Doon with mom, Grace, dad, Vince, and

Terri Doon with mom, Grace, dad, Vince, and daughter, Jaci Credit: Handout

Friday, Sept. 4, 2009, was an afternoon with my mom I wish had never ended. My mom, Grace, was an amazing woman. She was married for 56 years to her beloved Vince, raised seven successful children, had 15 grandchildren and two great-grandsons. She always had time for all of us.

When life's circumstances sent me unexpectedly back to work as a single mom of a 2-year-old, Mom gave up her own job so she could take care of my daughter, Jaci. That created a very close bond between them.

In 2009, Mom's health had declined and she was on dialysis three times a week. Jaci was traveling from her home in Massachusetts to Long Island to be a bridesmaid in her best friend's wedding but also wanted to spend time with her grandma. Unfortunately, the only time possible was during Grandma's scheduled dialysis. We decided to meet there and spend the hours together.

Little did we know, there are no visiting hours at dialysis. I pleaded our case to the kind staff who opened their hearts to us and offered us the opportunity to visit for five minutes during each half-hour of the three-hour session. We gratefully agreed. Mom was in great spirits at seeing Jaci and we talked and laughed, squeezing everything of importance into those short five-minute visits. For the other 25 minutes, Jaci and I chatted in the waiting room. How lovely it was to have this uninterrupted time to be together.

This special time with my mom and my daughter flew by, and it was time to say goodbye. As we were leaving, Mom asked Jaci about her boyfriend, Andy. She liked him and asked if things were getting serious. She'd recently had surgery on her feet and told Jaci she needed a heads-up to get her "dancing feet" ready for a possible wedding. Jaci assured her there was no news yet, but she'd be the first to know. We exchanged hugs and told her we loved her. With a big smile on her face, her parting words to us were, "Remember, I love you."

Two days later we lost our amazing Grace.

All the gifts we were given that last day with Mom still touch my heart. The empathy of the staff at the dialysis center allowing us that special time, the precious last memory of love and laughter I shared with Mom and with my daughter, the opportunity to say one last "I love you" to my mom, and to have "I love you" be her last words to us. For all these blessings I'll be forever grateful.

Jaci did, indeed, marry Andy, and I'm sure Mom was the first to know. Jaci carried her grandmother's picture down the aisle in a charm on her bouquet, just as I carry the memory of that very special afternoon in my heart.

--Terri Doon, West Sayville

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