Monday, April 29, 2024

Farewell, Mom.


Mom and Dad with the six kids!! I am the one with the long hair!

I love a houseful of folks. I love looking down the hallway at night and seeing the doors closed with a small bit of light creeping out from under the doors. This has always been the case for me, but this weekend it is different. Yes, my rooms are all full, but the visiting folks are not wandering travelers. No, this time the house is full of beloved brothers and sisters coming from all parts of the country. These brothers and sisters have come from Denver and Houston with my own sons from Charleston and St. Pete. Cousins have appeared from Tennessee, and one flew in from Italy.

This is not just any weekend, but today we celebrate my mom. As I sit here writing, I hear rumblings of my family waking up to open windows with birdsong and small chatting. Since my house is old, floors creak and the doors rattle so I always know who is moving about in the upstairs. As I sit here writing, my niece Claire takes a quick trip to Tom’s for donuts because they must have donuts from the donut capital of the world. The big coffee pot is full, and cups are ready to grab.

Last night we celebrated with a picnic in my backyard. My kitchen was full of food as we all gathered in a circle to send up a prayer of thanksgiving for my mom and my dad and family. We then scattered to tables in the backyard as each one became reacquainted with family. We all live quite far away so these times are precious to us. The conversations simply didn’t stop, and the stories flowed like wine. As it grew dark, I wanted to bring out a lantern or light the campfire, but I did not. I was afraid the spell would be broken as we sat in a circle and told story after story. The stars lit up our night sky as we still sat laughing, talking, getting to know one another all over again.

The service for my mom is today in Fort Wayne. My piper friend, Mark, will be there to do the honors with the bagpipes to the ancient songs we all know so well. My mom lived a lovely life of 94 years. She had two great loves and spent the last ten years living in England with her second love. I always told her how fortunate she was to have two loves in her life. My mom was beautiful and sprightly and the mother of six. She was born on Halloween day in 1929. I was always a little jealous of her Halloween birthday! We always celebrated with dumping out our candy bags and letting her choose. My brother Jack remembers we were not allowed to go trick-or-treating until the cake was cut.

She taught us money management at a young age as she would place cash in envelopes. When the money was gone, then that was that. I still put money in envelopes and ear mark them for different categories even though we pay bills online now, I still find money in envelopes. My mom was organized and ran our house smoothly when we were kids.

She and my dad were high school sweethearts. They met on a hayride on her 16th birthday and were married when they were 18. My dad always said he fell in love with her when they were walking under the streetlamps in Fort Wayne. He said the snow was softly falling and he looked at her with snow all around and fell in love with her. Later on, when they lived in Texas, my mom was working in the garden. Her white hair glistened in the afternoon sun. My dad looked over at her and then at me, and he said, “Isn’t she beautiful?” And she was.

Death takes us all one by one. I think sometimes we forget about that as we go about our lives filling them up with all kinds of activities. I know I do. However, I am always conscious of the fact that we are mortal. Living our lives full of love is the best remedy and then, as Mary Oliver once said, “To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.”


Farewell, Mom

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