By Danita Cahill
My mom loved kids, especially her own. She had four biological children – me and my three brothers. She had four step children, countless foster children over the years and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Not only did Mom adore children, she also adored raccoons.
Her love of raccoons started when she was working as a CNA taking care of an elderly woman. Wild raccoons would daily come right up to the woman’s sliding glass door. I think she fed them dog food.
My mom told me all about how the baby raccoons would reach underneath the door mat and feel around with their hands, looking for food. Mom couldn’t get over how adorable they were. She got such a kick out of watching their antics.
Although Mom was never before a big animal lover, after taking care of that woman, she acquired a deep fondness for raccoons. She began collecting raccoons. Figurines and plush raccoons lined shelves inside her and Dad’s house. Dad even bought her a big carved statue of a raccoon carved from wood with a chainsaw. It stood guard in the living room near the front door for years.
In the summer of 2006, my mom was lying in a hospital bed in the Salem Memorial Hospital. She had cancer and blood clots throughout her body. One of the blot clots had broken loose and caused a stroke. After the stroke, she lapsed into a coma.
My mom’s time in the hospital was short. From the day she was diagnosed with cancer until she passed away was only one week. I visited every day. And I went again the first evening after my dad had told me over the telephone that Mom had slipped into a coma.
I’d never seen anyone in a coma before, especially not a family member. Especially not my mom. I wanted to visit Mom. I wanted to be there for her. But taking those steps from the parking lot to the hospital was hard. Very hard.
My husband, Rick and our middle child – who was just a baby at the time – were with me that late afternoon. As we walked across a bridge over a creek on the way to the hospital entrance, I heard a rustle in the small trees below.
I stopped and backed up. “I heard something,” I told Rick.
He retraced his steps too and we stood quietly for a moment, scanning the brush below. Again we heard the rustle. We both held our breath as a mama raccoon and four baby raccoons peered out from the brush. We watched until they climbed down from the tree and wandered away.
A mama raccoon and her four babies: My mom and her four children.
Was the raccoon family being in that place at that moment a coincidence? Or could it be they were a sign from Mom? Does someone in a coma already have one foot in heaven?
I’m not sure. But Rick is convinced there was a connection between that mama and her children and my mama and her children.
After Rick read the story I’d written, ‘A Dollar From Jan’ (click here) about how Jennie’s mom sends her signs, Rick said, “Remember the raccoons?”
Thanks, Mom. Maybe you do send me signs and I just need to be more aware.
Copyright Danita Cahill. All rights reserved.