For many of us, our Moms are not here any longer. My mother passed away 19 years ago and I still miss her and am so grateful for all that she taught me, let me do and fully support all I did.
I wrote this message to give at her celebration of life in 1998. I was not able to be there but someone did read it at the service.
I want to write it here as a continued thank you and honor of my Mom who had many challenges but never complained and was always so positive even in the midst of a terrible long term illness.
And I send my very best wishes to others of you who no longer have your Mom with you.
At last you are at peace. You suffered greatly, but never complained. You seemed to accept and rise to whatever came your way. Not just in the horrible illness you endure but in many situations throughout your life.
As a mother, you made the ultimate sacrifice: you freely encouraged my sister and I to pursue the paths that we felt were right for us even though it meant that you had no children or granchildren living near you and an oldest daughter half way around the world.
You always told us what mattered most to you was that we were happy. No guilt, no pressure, no criticism. Just ongoing acceptance and support of whatever we chose, even if it would not have been your first choice for us. Even in the thick of your long term serious illness (which later made you not able to talk clearly) and widowhood, phone calls from you would always focus on how our family was doing. Never a complaint about your declining health, loneliness and isolation-we actually had to push pretty hard to get you to talk about it at all! That type of selfless love is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give their child. Especially when it is given in a time of need as great as the one you were going through.
So many things I did with my daughters while they were growing up are because of what you taught me through word and example in my ‘growing up years’. Table manners, aversion to gossip, looking for the good in others and thousands of other things remind me of childhood lessons you taught me for which I am grateful.
Significant and trivial memories have flooded my mind over the past week. The silly things like calling you from various parts of the world asking if you thought a roast that was a week old was still good or how should I cook it? Or more serious things like supporting me as a 12 year old having an idea of inventing a board game by helping me write the letter to Parker Brothers about it it, never once suggesting it was unrealistic. The strong message that and other situations gave me was: you can do anything you want to if you believe in yourself and put some effort into it.
What a difference that has made in my life
I cherish the fact that you came to Australia for the birth of my two daughters and I will never forget the sacrifice and courage that it took for you to fly to Australia from the US alone and coming to see us a few years later in spite of your ill health and bad days. All of those memories are precious to me and inspire me to live a life worthy of my daughters being willing (as you did) to move well out of my comfort zone to support them if necessary.
Of course some of my most treasured memories will always be in July (1998) spending the last few weeks of your life with you when I went back to the US. In the midst of being stripped of all but your ability to move, you still were able to crack a smile at my silly antics and teasing.
You participated in life with every ounce of energy and capability you had, right up til the end. You left this earth in triumph. Life tried to rob you of everything but you held strongly to the two things it could not take unless you surrendered them: dignity and faith.
Your dignity came not from your physical being, but from your attitude and response to life. A fact that I observed as a child, a teen, as a young adult, and a middle aged woman.
Petty people, caustic relatives, a daughter moving half way around the world, the worst curse of ill health you could imagine and widowhood were never able to reduce you to bitterness, retaliation or self pity. You rose above all of them year after year with grace and dignity; not ever surrendering to their relentless pursuit of tearing you down. Even when you could not speak, write, or eat normally, the message that your life and attitude communicated was louder than any words could have.
Your body gave up, but your spirit, positive determination and faith to go on were as strong as ever right to the end.
Mom I will miss you so much. Word can not express my gratitude for the tapestry of treasured memories, lessons, challenges and inspirations that will be reflected in my life because of you.
All my love
On March 27, 2015 (the day of Mom’s birthday) I held a book launch at our house for the book I just published. I know she would have loved the book.
Mom I think of you at least 3 or 4 times a week still 19 years later and still miss you and am so grateful for your wisdom and positive spirit.