My mother loved tv shopping. She could watch hours upon hours of QVC and HSN. I mean HOURS. My siblings and I received many Christmas gifts from my mother’s television watching. We can laugh over the massive wooden salad bowls, the battery operated cookie press (that didn’t really work but the cookie sheets were awesome!)
The George Foreman grills were pretty good, and the sautee pan which I still use, but others were a bit odd.
In the last few weeks of her life, she went back to watching those shopping channels on tv. Often all night long the men and women would hawk their wares and she would watch. The rehab center she was in would joke with us that they had never seen anyone watch so many hours of shopping.
Now the truth is, that my siblings and I did not enjoy watching the shopping channels as much as she did. Did you know that some of those shows ran a full hour on trying to sell the same item: computers or silverware of holiday cookies and cakes and candies? All for three or four easy payments (plus shipping of course!)
On this day a year ago, my mother was “lucid” for the last time. Of course, when she was awake she would watch the shopping channels. When she was not, my brother or sister or I would change the channel in her room, often to the Food Network, because during the day there were cooking shows. She would briefly rouse, look at the tv and look at us and then point her finger at the tv. “Do you want us to change the channel, Mom?” “YES!” and back it would go to either QVC or HSN.
She would nod back off and then we would change the channel again. By early afternoon, with my sister and I in her room, we discovered that NCIS was playing non stop on one of the cable channels. We both love that show, so while my mother slept we watched old episodes. My mom would wake up, point at the tv, we would change it back.
Toward the latter part of the afternoon, she woke up one more time. My younger brother, my sister and I were in there, playing on our tablets or laptops, watching NCIS, waiting and watching as my mother slept and began slipping away.
She woke up again and NCIS was playing. This time, though, she didn’t demand we change the channel. This time this is what she saw.
She started pointing. “Do you want us to change the channel?” She shook her head no. She pointed at the screen. “Mom, do you want us to order one?” Her eyes opened more and she said “YES!” My brother started shaking his head and said “Mom, really, Navy guys are not that great and I should know!” Again, she pointed to the tv screen. She tried to say “that one” I couldn’t fault her, who wouldn’t want a Mark Harmon?
So my sister and I assured her we would order one. She looked at us, and we both laughed and said “really! As soon as the 1-800 number comes on we will order one for you! Maybe it will be buy one get one free!” My mom shook her head yes, smiled and went back to sleep.
She never opened her eyes again. I often smile at the memory of her pointing at the tv screen and wanting one more chance to order something, something she thought would be wonderful, something that would give her joy and make life a little bit more wonderful.
Certainly that is what those shopping channels promise: one more item with a few easy payments will make a person more happy or more productive or will make life a bit easier. For me, watching my mother want to order a handsome man at the last makes me smile even today. To laugh and smile with her in her last couple of days was a privilege and an honor.
Whatever one believes about this life or the next, I believe that wherever my mother may be now is a place with no more pain, no more weakness and is filled with life and love. My mother knew too much of fear and loss and uncertainty. The promise of faith is that when we transition from this life to the next there is peace, wholeness and a fullness of who we were always meant to be. May it be so for my mother. And some day, may it be so for us all.