This morning, at 1:30 AM, my mother passed away at the age of eighty-seven. Hers was a lingering death, what with declining health and growing discomfort. When I received the phone call from a family member, asking me to attend the hospital to say my farewells, it didn’t take much to impell me to get dressed, go out the door, and get in the car for a surreal four-mile drive downtown. After all, I was her second son who had formed a relationship – at times stormy, though – with her for over six decades. This past year has taught me, once again, the importance of trying to make sense of my past in relation to charting my future. That includes trying to comprehend the incomprehensible when it comes to resolving the issues arising from parent-child conflicts. For a while I actually hated my mother for all the harm she visited on me and others because of her narcissistic ways. Only recently  have I finally figured out how to break that cycle. I have gone back to work in order to gain a fresh perspective on what a healthy relationship might look like when it comes to dealing with difficult people. After reading “Work Without Stress” I  now see the importance on focusing on the immediate needs of the other person as a way of working around any interpersonal differences. To be able to aid my mother and step-dad during the most troubling time in their lives, I have had to chuck all the baggage of an unhappy past in the hope of establishing a better present. Here are two elderly people who have basically burned all their bridges and now badly need a friend or two to escort them to the brink of the next life. By turning up to hold her hand, stroke her forehead, and give her water, I have learned the importance of being able to minister to another person in their greatest hour of need. I have also concluded that my mother was in fact a person who, like the rest of us, needs forgiveness for wrongs she wasn’t socially adept at controlling. Yes, I was very touched by this end-of-life visit for no other reason than that I experienced how agape love can ultimately triumph over the sting of death. Mum is home with Her Lord and all the pains, hurts, frustrations and tears of the past have been wiped away for good. Now comes the task of my moving out into the bigger world seeking those who need a friend to hold their hand, like Sidney Carton did for the little seamstress in that closing scene of “The Tale of Two Cities”.