When my Mom was dying seven years ago, I had to fly from Buffalo to northern Michigan to get to her.
She lived in a small town with a regional airport, so it wasn’t easy getting there. My sister let me know I may not make it in time to say goodbye in person, so Mom and I said goodbye on the phone and I began the journey – praying all the way I’d be there with her when she passed to the other side.
I had a layover in Detroit and I talked to her again right before I boarded my flight. It was a tiny plane, not even a flight attendant on board. It was extremely difficult talking with her in a public place and trying to sound encouraging and hopeful but I put my big girl pants on and smiled at strangers who were wondering why an adult woman was crying like a 2-year-old in the middle of the airport.
They finally called for our boarding. It was the longest flight in history.
My dear brother-in-law was waiting at the airport to whisk me to the hospital. He explained we needed to hurry and that it could be over at any moment. I ran through the hospital, went up on the elevator, ran down the hall and was blessed to see my sister and my Mom waiting for me. Mom was smiling and so glad I was there. We talked and hugged and visited for over an hour. I have never been so relieved to be anywhere as I was that hospital room. I could finally take a breath.
Everyone started to relax and felt like we had a little more time together. I asked my Mom if she had any wisdom to share with us. We were all aware of what was coming.
Mom laid there for a moment thinking, and then with a smile on her face said the words that I will never forget:
“Don’t be afraid of doughnuts.”
My sister and I looked at each other, then back at Mom. We were speechless.
I looked at her and said “Really? Don’t be afraid of doughnuts?”
She continued to smile and said. “Yes. Don’t be afraid of doughnuts! I’ve spent my whole life afraid of eating doughnuts, even though I really love them. Now here I am, about to die, and I really, really wish I’d eaten more.”
I looked at Mom to see that she was serious. I said, “Mom, I just had the longest trip known to mankind. The pilot on my last leg looked like he was about 12 years old, not old enough to drive, much less fly. We broke speed limits and went through yellow and red lights to get here, and the best you have to share with us is ‘Eat more doughnuts?’ ”
“Yes – eat more doughnuts. I wish I had!” We all laughed till our sides hurt, including Mom.
We ended up having two more days together. At Mom’s funeral, the family all wore buttons my daughter had made. A picture of Mom with her final admonition about doughnuts circling the outer edge. We all know she was there, and we all know she loved the idea.
I share this with you now because I know she would approve. I know she would want all of you to know to live life to the fullest, and eat the darn doughnut. Life is short and meant to be enjoyed.