“It happened one day “

Denise Denzin as a young woman

You wake up for 82 years, and then 3 days before your 83rd birthday, your name is called, your time is up, and you pass into the loving arms of Jesus.

It is a day unlike any other, because this is your destiny day. The day you “ will meet your maker.”

Sitting with you, at your bedside watching you transition as your body and mind was winding down will be “ a day that lives in infamy” for me. Such a divine privilege, and exquisite opportunity to serve my Mum.

Looking deep into your deep denim blue eyes, with dark lashes that could no longer register what she saw, just fills me with awe and wonder .

It is stunning to realize that “ you knew” your time was short, and across your face I would see angst and frustration in your creased brow, and puffs of air breathed out in exhaustion. You were ready, and could be restless as you existed sometimes impatiently, in “ the waiting room for heaven.”

Those eyes that once shone brightly, and squinted with laughter, with each passing day, sunk deeper into the purple abyss of your eye sockets.

It is not an easy thing to watch, and be a part of, because the knowing is there every time you say good bye, that this could be the last kiss, hug, greeting that you would ever exchange together.

I hated to leave her at the end of my visit with her. A chunk of my heart fell to the soft carpeted floor without an audible noise, but the crash inside of my head was deafeningly loud.

This is “living sorrow,” and “ living grief.” In my opinion it is not something you go through, or get through, it is just with you to be endured and experienced. There is no right or wrong in this death space. There is just being and acknowledging your love.

This may not be a welcome revelation, but in my experience it is the way of it.

It’s a companion that holds your hand with tenderness and comfort if you let it, or with hate and anger if you fight it.

I’m not sure you ever “ get through the grieving process?” It morphs and moves, and ebbs into different places throughout your body and mind.

Mum through the years

To love or not to love? If you love, you will be hurt. It is an unspoken guarantee. The cost of loving is great, but the cost of not loving causes your heart and life to close up, and wither into dust. It is a life not worth living.

Looking down at your coffin as it was lowered into the newly dug resting place was an startling thing. The dirt that you loved to dig your hands in to plant flowers, and shrubs would now be your blanket in death.

“I love you Mum.“. I still find myself saying the words aloud as I make my way through the day.

Mum would respond with ,

“ I love you too very much..”

And there it is, the proclamation that you long to hear when you love another. The heart craves to know it is loved back, and it also slips into deep distress when that love is not returned. The power in love is transformative. There is nothing that compares to it in this world.

The missing begins before the person departs from your life because there is just never enough time with someone that you love. You crave their presence like your crave the life giving oxygen of your next breath.

She said, “ I don’t want to say goodbye.”

I didn’t, and don’t want to either. Goodbyes are hard. We just don’t ever want to be apart from those we love. I told her we would just say ,

“See you later..”

That won’t ever change. Mum said it in such a simple and childlike and also reverent way, I could barely hear the words. They were more whispered out as a beseeching prayer.

“ Everywhere I go I see you.” I have your hands, and my Nanny Denzin’s hands. These were my gift handed down in my DNA. I couldn’t change them if I wanted to . They tell a story, and paint a vibrant picture in my mind of all the things these hands have touched, created, held, bandaged, and cared for. It’s an ominous responsibility to share these hands. I feel it.

It seems that the legacy that many run after leaving when they pass could just be a legacy of love.

Accomplishing great things, inventing, and making a difference on this planet, is needed, and remembered, but being loved, and loving another is still the greatest accomplishment one can have.

I didn’t want to miss it.. I thought I might, but I’m so glad I didn’t.

The places we have travelled, the adventures, and country roads, and miles of highways we have driven, are captured in my mind like a motion picture.

It’s the best movie, but it has holes in it . It’s not perfect. I remember when I was 12 years old, and mouthing off to my Mother with harsh and ugly words. She slapped me across the face. Then I slapped her. We both looked shocked, and in horror.. then she slapped me again . Message received. That never happened again.

Not that I didn’t say unkind, unwarranted or hateful words after that . I know I did. Was I wrong?..absolutely.

I didn’t have to go through those early teen turbulent years with my daughter. She never said a word. I wished she could have yelled at me. I wanted the words so badly. I always said to my girl, “ Mummy loves you.” She smiled big at me, and I knew she loved me too.. Her smile was her “ I love you Mum.”

Oh the beautiful awful and wonderful memories. They haunt me because I want more, but that is not to be. I have no choice but to accept what is.

Sitting in this place, listening to music play in the background, feeling the warmth of the fire, I’m immersed deeply in the remembering. The holding close of those people who now don’t live here anymore .

I am honored to be your daughter, and am so thankful that I had the parents that I was blessed with.

As your bodies now lay side by side in the ground, waiting for the trumpet to sound from heaven, and that glorious moment when you shall be called by name, and you will ascend to heaven….we wait.

I know there is work to be done, and people to love. There is the “ great commission” to complete, and no time to waste.

Every time I hear the song, “ You raise me up,” with Sheila Walsh singing in her soprano voice, I will think of you. Mum told me one day that this was her song for me . She said, “ this is how I feel about you… you raise me up.” I was stunned. I didn’t know. I have never told anybody that . That was quite the revelation. I was humbled.

Cory, Auntie Ella, Mum, and me in Italy on the Amalfi Coast

Picture postcards are flipping through my mind. I’m so thankful for photos. These are proof when I forget that this life happened.. it mattered..It was good, and hard, and painful, and exquisitely ours.

Mum and Bianca at “ Cavalier,” in Toronto, just one of the best experiences we had together

There is so much to say, but what keeps coming into focus is the love and support I always felt from my Mother. We had a deep connection that didn’t go away when she passed into the next place where she will be when I next reunite with her . She’s as close as the next room. Rest easy Mum, I’m gonna see ya soon.

Heaven bound is my bumper sticker .

6 thoughts on ““It happened one day “

  1. O Jill, Ill have to say in the one beloved year I had with your mom, I felt that mother love too. And I too just hated leaving her, she had her own lovely, homey room, but I didnt like leaving her in that building (it was the BEST care, but still not like the home she had had.) BUT what I found sooo sweet was she was more concerned with me getting back to my home safely! She said, “call me when you arrive home, so I know you’re safe.” Awwww 💗💗 🥺 With my own mother so far away, it was kinda like she was mine, and I was hers, just a little bit! 😊 Her mothering instinct could not be hid regardless of where she was! I was so thankful that some days we had all day to be in each others company. O to have that back this year! And Barb, O my, what a true friend, how we miss our Denise. 😪 … I went to bed last nite wondering, “where is her beloved Brody?” 😘
    PS … those photos of her going-away outfit with HER mom. ❤ I obviously wasn’t at her wedding but my parents had many pictures of it. I have always thought your mom had the most loveliest going-away outfit. And I still do!!


    1. Hi Shannon:
      I think it’s so wonderful that you had each other for her time here in Ottawa. That was a divine appointment between you and her… so precious.. I love that she worried about you getting home safely.. You made use of your opportunity to spend time with her, and brought your Mum over. Those kindnesses are not forgotten. You enriched her life…with friendship, fellowship, hymn sings, Swiss chalet visits. We are never ever sorry when we take the time to be in community with each other. Such a blessing to have one another. You are so appreciated and loved. I’m corresponding with BArbara now… she is devastated by Mum’s death.. such a dear dear woman..

      Mum’s wedding “going away outfit” was so classy. I’ve saved some memory cards from Mum’s service. I’ll send you a bunch when I get myself organized.


      1. O thank u … yes (including me) I can think of a few Denzin’s who will appreciate having one … like Vicky for sure, and my mom, and Debbie … but thats ok if u only have a few to spare! 😍 … and her manilla? 😁 … LOL thats ok if someone else wants it, it would just be a very precious souvenir that would actually be used. 😇 BUT again, I have many, I don’t “need” any more, her white one would just be a very precious reminder of her 😍😍


  2. O thank u … yes (including me) I can think of a few Denzin’s who will appreciate having one … like Vicky for sure, and my mom, and Debbie … but thats ok if u only have a few to spare! 😍 … and her manilla? 😁 … LOL thats ok if someone else wants it, it would just be a very precious souvenir that would actually be used. 😇 BUT again, I have many, I don’t “need” any more, her white one would just be a very precious reminder of her 😍😍


    1. Hi Shannon:
      I hope you received the memory brochures. I have lots more of you need them, and would happily send you mire. I think my brother has her Bible with the mantilla in it. I would have loved for you to have it. When I see you next I shall bring you something special from her . Her private teddy bear collection will be up and online for purchase on


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