The Watering Hole Blog

When a Soul Calls Out to Us

photo of MA & Mom in paddleboat

This is the 4th Mothering Matters blog in the Spring 2020 series

When a Soul Calls Out to Us 

Maryanne & her Mom, 1974

“It isn’t easy letting go of someone you love. It’s even harder when you know it’s the right thing to do.”

– Unknown

Okay…this is a bit of a tricky blog to write. Not because I have any doubt as to what happened. I know what I heard. This is a dicey blog to share because I am asking you to believe something that may seem highly improbable to some people. And that’s okay.

In March of 2014, my mom was booked to have hip surgery. She was 88 years old. Physically, her health wasn’t great. Mentally, she was sharp as a tack.

Her occupation had been a nurse, so she was aware of the risks of having hip surgery at that advanced age, when in such fragile state.

But she made what I – and all of us in the family – thought was a calculated risk in choosing to have the surgery. The pain in her disintegrated hip had become so uncomfortable that she would rather take the risk of having the surgery which, if successful, would result in lessening that discomfort and increasing her mobility, versus not having the surgery…and living the rest of her days in chronic pain.

She made the decision to have the surgery. It was booked for a Thursday.

On the Saturday before, I was at my home in Sidney, BC, sound asleep on the couch in the sunroom (my elderly dog, Soda, needed to go outside every few hours so I was sleeping by the back door). At 3 a.m., I heard my mom’s voice, clear as day and strong as a bull, calling out to me (just like she did whenever she needed me to do something…which was often 😉): “Maryanne! Maryanne…”

I opened my eyes and looked around the sunroom for my mom. Of course, she wasn’t there. She was at home in Calgary. I was sure I had heard her voice versus dreamt it. I went back to sleep.

Thursday rolled around and, due to Soda being in rough shape and all three of my brothers lined up for being on deck for surgery day and the days to follow, I wasn’t booked to go back to Calgary to help with our mom’s post-op care until Tuesday…so four days after her surgery.

That was the plan.

My mom had her surgery on the Thursday. All went well. Really well, in fact. I spoke to her on Thursday night and she sounded weak but happy: “I made it!”

But on Friday, she started to go downhill. In hindsight, she simply didn’t have the strength for the rehabilitation. She was struggling. By Saturday, she was very pale, vomiting and didn’t even have the strength to talk to me on the phone (that had NEVER happened before!).

My brothers kept me in the loop. They were getting increasingly concerned that not only had the surgery had been too hard on her frail body, the initial attempts at rehabilitation were proving to be too much.

On Saturday night, I was again asleep on my couch in my Sidney sunroom. At 3 a.m., I awoke again to my mom’s voice calling out to me. But this time, it was significantly weaker. And she was calling me by my childhood nickname: “Bigoo…bigoo…”

Something wasn’t right. My tiger of a mother sounded like a lamb. Click To Tweet

She made it through Sunday. But my brothers were extremely concerned.

Monday morning, I got the call.

“Mom’s gone,” my brother Doug said.

I dropped to the floor. “What?”

“Goo…Mom died this morning.”

The doctor had been in to check her at 8 a.m.. She was fine. Weak but chirpy. When the nurse came in at 9 a.m., she was dead. She had aspirated – choked to death – either on phlegm or vomit. Either way, she should not have been left on her back.

But that’s not what this blog is about.

This blog is about my mom’s soul calling out to me before she passed…not once but twice. I know full well my mom wanted me to be there with her for the surgery and immediate post-op recovery. I probably should have been. But for multiple reasons, I wasn’t.

And this may sound like an odd thing to say but I also know that if I had hopped on a plane on the Sunday, my mom may not have died on Monday morning. I’m not saying I could have prevented her death. But there’s a part of me that wonders if I had been there, she may not have died when she did or the way she did. I have a feeling she may have survived that rocky first week.

As her daughter, I think I may have been able to give her the strength she needed. Click To Tweet

But let’s say she had lived. Because of her fragile physical health, she would not have had the necessary strength to fully recover from that hip surgery. She likely would have had to go into a long-term care facility. And for my mom, that would have been far worse than death.

We all knew that.

And now that I’ve had a few years to process her sudden passing, I do think the whole damn thing went down about as best as it possibly could. I would even be so bold as to say it all went down the way it was supposed to…spiritually speaking.

When my mom’s soul called out to me the first time, under normal circumstances, Maryanne the daughter would have dropped everything and flew home to help.

But I suspect my soul knew otherwise…the time was near that I would have to let my mom go. And better for her that she went sooner rather than later. Click To Tweet

I miss my Tiger Mom very much. Since her passing, I have not heard her voice calling out to me …demanding, kind or otherwise. What I do feel is her presence in my life. Although my Mom gleefully pushed my buttons, barged through my boundaries, and bossed me around like nobody’s business, she loved me fiercely…and knew better than anyone want my heart and soul desire most.

As such, I get the distinct sense that she has a hand in all the good things coming my way these days.

MA & Momma Pope, 1995

Related blogs by Maryanne

The Gravity of Not Letting Go

When a Fear Demands to be Faced

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. To receive her weekly blog, Weekly Words of Wisdom, please sign up here.

Previous Blogs in this Mothering Matters Series:

A Mother’s Worst Nightmare – A Daughter’s Courageous Response

Pushing the Boundaries – What’s Really Going on When We Don’t Say No

 Connecting Through Memories – Real or Imagined

Mothering Matters Blog Archives

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6 thoughts on “When a Soul Calls Out to Us”

  1. Maryanne…..I think your mom made her transition ESPECIALLY while you were NOT THERE…..she needed to do this on her own. Just a thought.
    My mom came from Nova Scotia to visit for two months..years ago…just after we had spent two years in Hawaii. She arrived in Victoria in November…I was then going through a divorce and selling our lovely home…and in January was all packed to take the flight to Yarmouth the next morning. I had gone out to pick up a tape of my friends playing flute, cello and me on piano so so she could hear her dotter and friends while back in NS. I came home to find a very cleaned mother lying, dressed with teeth in, on my bathroom floor. She had the most wonderful smile on her face and of course she had passed.
    I think she wanted to go…not to Yarmouth, but to her angels and family without me being around her. I had never seen her look so beautiful.
    I think your mom picked her time to give you some peace for she was then in peace also. Don’t berate yourself. Glad you had fun with mom.
    Love ya,

  2. Oh Louise…thank you so much for sharing your story about your mom passing. That is amazing! Thank you also for your kind words about my mom passing away when she did. Just writing that blog last week was tremendously therapeutic 🙂 It all does seem to have a timing of it’s own, doesn’t it?

    Take care, my friend!

  3. This blog has left me speechless. I am glad d you wrote it and didn’t tell it to me right now because it is so on point I can hardly breath. My mother is scheduled for heart surgery ( not major surgery of the heart but a bit of a fix up) and I cant get out to her because the border is closed. I am always with her when she has surgery, being the only daughter. I am hoping the universe is not having you send this message to me! As always, I love you and wrap you in my arms.

  4. Oh Lynne…I am sending both you & your Mom a HUGE hug! I hope her heart surgery goes well. SO glad it isn’t major surgery. But it must be really frustrating that you can’t go and be with her because of the pandemic & closed borders. Sigh…hang in there! Take care, my friend, and let’s talk soon.

  5. This resonates with me. The thoughts of “If I had just (fill in the blank)…” or “Maybe if I hadn’t (fill in the blank)…” The mind likes to torture us. I wonder how many of these feelings tortured Dad. :p

    This is right on point for the year 2020. Everyone is so attached to life, even in its twilight stages, and unwilling to let go of attachment and control.

    Momma Pope was a real joy in my life. And a worthy adversary…she excelled at helping straighten my spine. 😉

  6. Momma Pope certainly was a very worthwhile opponent to you, Carleton! She LOVED how honest you were…even though that honesty was sometimes expressed in calling HER on her crap. Ahahahahaha! You are right about the attachment, though…boy it is tough to let go.


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