Five years ago today we lost my mother to pancreatic cancer. I can’t believe how swiftly the years have gone by. She’s had two new grandchildren born since she’s been gone. I was pregnant with my youngest son when she died and she promised to send me “the best one.” I know that promise holds true for her new little granddaughter (our first niece on my side!), who is absolutely adorable and sweet and perfect. I know she’s still watching over us, involved in our lives as a guardian angel, and is aware of all of our hurts, joys, failures and successes. Even though I know her spirit is in a better place, a happier place, I can’t help to astutely feel her absence in our family moments.
On Sunday my new little niece was given a name and a blessing; her middle name is the same as my mom’s first name. Oh how I wanted our Mom there in that moment. She would have been bursting with pride and joy. And yet, I know she was there with us. Her Spirit was there and for a brief moment I felt it. I’m so proud of my brother and what a wonderful daddy he is. I know my Mom is proud of him too. I just wish she was here with us in the flesh to watch all of her grandchildren grow up. My daughter is the only one who really remembers her and I’m glad at least one grandchild has happy memories to share with the rest of them.
Five years is a long time to live without your mom. My heart aches for all the motherless/fatherless children in the world no matter their age. Having good parents who love you unconditionally and want the best for you is a blessing that should never be taken for granted. In the last five years I’ve had to figure out who I am without the benefit of a mother to lean on. I’ve had to endure a lot of hurt without a mom’s shoulder to cry on — the biggest hurt being her physical absence. The hubs has been traveling a lot with his work the last year and every time I get overwhelmed with the responsibilities of being a mother of three and career woman and all that, all I want to do is call my Mom and cry and get sympathy and I can’t. I think without my mother, I’ve had to become much stronger. It’s a refiner’s fire I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
I’ve written so much in the last five years about my mother being gone. It’s a defining moment in my life, but I don’t want it to be the only defining moment. I had 29 years of life, love, and laughter with a wonderful woman as my mother and I’m trying, trying so hard, to concentrate on what I had and not dwell on what I don’t anymore.
So in tribute today of a wonderful woman I was lucky enough to call mother here are a few things you should know about her:
-She was hysterically funny. She loved corny jokes and puns. My sense of humor runs a little sarcastic and dry, but she was more of a ham, even inventing funny dances to make people laugh. Whenever she was in a crowd of people, she made it her goal to make each person smile or laugh.
-She was a lover of books and of words. I spent almost every Saturday of my childhood in a library because she always had two or three or more books checked out. I never saw her without a book. And one of my favorite things to do with her once I became a teenager and adult was share books with her. We had our own private book club. She was the best speller and grammatarian. She used to say that back before computers when she was a secretary, “I was spellcheck!” I owe my large vocabulary to my mother. The hubs says I even use big words in my sleep.
-Her favorite color was yellow and her spirit totally embodied that color.
-She was enormously proud of her children and wanted nothing more than hordes of grandchildren. Every time I talk with one of her old coworkers or friends they know so much about me and my siblings and it’s because she always talked about us. I ran into one of her coworkers at Target a few months ago and she said that a day didn’t go by where my mother didn’t mention how proud she was of one of her children or grandchildren.
-As out-going as my mother was in groups, she was very much an introvert who preferred the company of her books to people.
-She was fiercely independent, raised us kids to be the same way, and whenever I hear my four year old say he wants to do something “himself,” I think of my mother and laugh. Her independent spirit lives on in them.
-She and the hubs used to work a block away from each other and so they would carpool to work together (which really meant she drove him to work because she was too controlling to let someone else drive). The seats in her cars had their own heaters and in the winter she would heat up his seat so by the time she got to our house his seat was nice and toasty. It was a little thing, but it shows how considerate she was of others.
-She loved carnations and preferred a bouquet of them to roses any day.
-She was generous. She always sent birthday cards and presents to people even when that thoughtfulness was never returned. She and my dad helped out the hubs and I so much financially when we were first married there is no way I’d ever be able to repay them. That was probably her alternative to us living with them 🙂
-She was extremely proud of her Danish heritage and her Mormon pioneer heritage. A lot of our Christmas traditions are things my mother did with her Danish grandparents. And there wasn’t a time where my mom heard the Mormon hymn, “Come, Come ye Saints” where she didn’t bawl her face off.
-She loved Elvis, which is pretty typical of a woman of her generation. She took it a little far with all her Elvis memorabilia, even an Elvis Barbie doll. I can’t listen to an Elvis song without thinking of her.
-She and my dad eloped after only knowing each other for 7 weeks. She didn’t tell her parents until after the wedding. She would have killed any of us had we done that, but my Mom was the kind of person who did things the way she wanted, when she wanted, and how she wanted. And frankly, I’m very glad my parents were so impulsive because I wouldn’t be here!
There are so many things to be said and written, but most of all I want to say I’m thankful that I was given a mother like my Mom. I’m thankful I had 29 years of her being an active parent in my life. I’m thankful for the mother that she was. I’m thankful for all the lessons she taught me, the example she was to me, and the unconditional love she always gave me. I miss her. Every day I miss her. Every day I wish she was here, not just for me, but for me and siblings and our children.
I love you, Mom. Until we meet again…
Mom in her 20s at her parent’s house at Christmas
My parents right after their wedding. It’s my most favorite picture of my parents and it’s my screensaver.
My parents on their 25th Wedding Anniversary in 1996
My parents with my brother outside the Ogden temple right after he took out his endowments before his mission (2003).
My family after my brother’s missionary farewell (2003)
A few months after my brother came home from his mission (2006ish)