My Mom, Aggie Budenz McHugh, died 10 days after my 41st birthday. My mom was 41 when she gave birth to me and my 41st birthday was a full circle moment as I sat by her side as she laid there in the bed where she spent her final days. Here we were two women with distinctively different lives yet both rich with beauty. I had begun a ritual of kissing her all around her face as a mom would her child, asking her: Do you know why I do this? She would shake her head from side to side and grin with the face of a child in on the game but pretending coyly not to be. I would say to her: Some day, I won't be able to kiss your face and I want to remember all of my days what it feels like. She delighted in this thought. Then, looking her in the eye, I told her that she was my hero and explained that the thought of having a child now makes me cry; and she had seven more children at this point in her life. In awe of her own journey, she agreed that she didn't know how she did it; she JUST did it.
I miss my mom and have felt her so close over the past few weeks. I am so grateful for her legacy of humor as this is indeed medicine from the gods.
Below is an excerpt from my book: Passing On Hope from the chapter, Tender Moments...Sure hope you ENJOY this moment!
“Grace fills empty spaces, but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it, and it is grace itself which makes the void.”
My mother told me that she cried the entire nine months that she was pregnant with me because she had seven other children to care for, which left her exhausted. She thought, at age 41, that she was too old to have me. There were stories she told about the young mothers in the maternity ward who were parading around in little nighties and had young husbands doting over them and their babies. The birth of baby number eight, Kathleen Sue McHugh, was no big event. Before leaving for the hospital, my parents told my brothers and sisters that they were going to the movies. Things like babies being born just weren’t discussed in our home. Babies just appeared over the years without questions or answers. My dad took my mom to the hospital and brought her home, with me, a couple of days later. This was just his way; it was just their way.
One day while driving my mom home from an eye doctor appointment with my cousin
Chad, I tried to distract her by pointing out the spectacular views of fall lining Highway 37 in southern . Indiana had discovered that her vision problems were due to a neurological condition, and a new prescription wouldn’t bring the quick fix we had hoped for. He referred us to a former professor of his, a neuro-ophthalmologist who was the top in his field and squeezed us in his tight schedule thanks to Chad . I was trying to get Chad Mom to focus on the fact that we knew more than when we left home earlier that morning and now we had a game plan going forward. She reached her hand over to touch my shoulder. I continued looking straight ahead glimpsing over for a nanosecond, but I could feel the enormity of her love for me. As if reading off her grocery list, she said, “I may have cried the whole time I was pregnant with you, but now I know why God gave me you.”
There was a pregnant pause so we could process this moment. Finally, I laughed as if my very life depended on it and then she laughed hesitantly and then deliberately. I reached over to touch her hand as I playfully said, “Well, I’m sure glad that you have figured out why God gave us each other.” We laughed some more, making up for all the times we couldn’t find humor. I called my siblings to update them on
Mom’s appointment and told them that she knew why God gave her me, but she still wasn’t sure about the rest of them.