Thursday, November 4, 2010

November 4th--My Mom's Birthday

Today my mom would be 60 years old.  60 doesn't seem so old from where I'm standing, but she did not live until 60.  She died when she was 37, a year younger than I am.  I was 15 at the time, my sister was 13, and my brother was 8. 
My Mom, My Sister, and Me on a truck

Here's the thing.  It is horrible to lose a parent.  It doesn't matter how old or young you are.  I wish she was still here.  I wish she had been at my graduations, my wedding, the birth of my children.  Some days the grief feels as intense as it did those first six months.  I wish my husband, kids, friends could know her.  However, I feel very blessed that I had her for 15 years.  She had open heart surgery when I was 7 and 14, so it was not a sure thing we would have her that long.  So let me give you a glimpse of my mom; it gladdens my heart.

Her favorite color was orange--really it was!  Good thing she was making a home in the '70's, our bright orange kitchen fit right in!  If I remember correctly her favorite number was 4.
My best picture of the orange kitchen.  The other walls are painted the orange of the flowers.  
She loved Jesus.  Her Bible was falling apart with use and marked up with pen.  She did Bible Study Fellowship for 11 years--5 as a student and 6 as a facilitator/childrens' leader.  She taught our church's fourth grade Sunday School class and every one looked forward to reaching fourth grade and being in her class.  It was so much fun, and you learned a lot.  She taught the passover by having a "Passover" feast, but since the lamb was bologna cut in the shape of sheep, I'm not sure we exactly learned what Kosher meant.  When I reached fourth grade she was going to take a break from teaching, but I cried and said I wanted to be in her class, too.

She always forgot my teacher's names when talking to me.  Mrs. Mayo was Mustard, and Mrs. Coffee was Tea.  I thought she really couldn't remember, but now I think she just liked to make me giggle.  I'm pretty sure she knew their names since she was very active in the PTA and we lived in a small town.  My mom and her PTA friends organized science fairs at my elementary school with different science experiments.  This resulted in us having painted tin foil balls of different sizes hanging in our family room to represent the solar system--there was not enough room to hang them to scale.  She taught us that "My Very Experienced Mother Just Served Us Pickles Nicely or Nice Pickles."  I guess now that Pluto has been down graded from being a planet it would be that she Served us Noodles.
Two of the Dresses she sewed and embroidered.  Since they are long I'm sure they were already handed down.
She sewed a lot.  I'm not sure she liked it, but she did it.  For most Christmases and Easters she made three matching dresses for me, my sister, and foster sister.  She made our comforters and curtains.  I still have a skirt she made me when I was twelve for my trip to Japan.  But my favorite items were the bright pink overalls she made me in fourth grade and the barbie doll clothes.  Everyone loved her barbie doll clothes and she would sell them at the Christmas bizarre at school each year.  Every year she would make 50-100 little Christmas ornaments, mostly cloth or knitted, to give away one to everyone.  I am not sure how much of this was her enjoyment in being crafty or her true deep love of giving while maintaining a tight budget--she had a reputation for being a tightwad frugal.
My Favorite Overalls, I'm the middle sized girl.
She loved to read and took us to story times and the library sometimes several times a week--if I asked.  Sometimes I remember when I was really little that she would lie down and let me sit on her stomach and pretend she was a car while she read a book.  We had round red throw pillows that made the perfect steering wheel.  If we were really careful we were allowed to play with the jewelry in her jewelry box; I loved her mood ring the best.  She read all of my first stories and laughed at my first romance novel attempt.  I wanted it to be funny, but I think she was laughing at different things than I intended--I was 14 trying to write a Harlequin.

My mom was not known for being quiet, demur, or tactful, but everyone loved her.  She really loved people and wanted to serve them out of her love for them and Christ.  She threw baby showers, had tea parties, and made cakes for people.  She liked to play games and put together puzzles.  To this day I feel like I am cheating if I look at the picture of the puzzle on the box while putting a puzzle together.  Once I brought her a 2500 piece puzzle home from Japan with a third of it identically colored sky.  It took a long while to put together.  We had to do the sky first--that was another rule.
Our Family, Easter 1979.  I'm the one in yellow.
I loved my mom.  She went with me on a student church retreat, and I loved it!  She chaperoned our Math Olympiad tournaments.  We led a group of brownies at a week of girl scout camp together when I was 12, and she let me do it all--all the planning and going to the leader meetings.  She made me, and I really remember resisting this a lot, go into the high school to return a button maker to a teacher there when I was still in Middle School.  I had to call my friend's moms to arrange car pools to girl scout events.  She wanted to push me past my shyness.  Yet, she was nurturing.  When I was 15 she held me on her lap after our house flooded because I told her I was scared.  We lived in a flood zone and the house flooded every year, but this time it was particularly fast.  Even though she died, knowing she wanted me to be brave and reach for what I want is what gave me the courage to go to college 3000 miles away from home 2 years later.  I am thankful for that choice.
My Mom and Me, 8th Grade Mom and Me Tea
I could go on and on with memories of my mother, but I won't.  I hope this was enough for you to get a feel for who she was because my family and friends cannot know her this side of heaven, but I sure would like it if they could.  (We don't have a lot of pictures of her because she was usually behind the camera.)


Nancy said...

Happy birthday to your mom. Her daughter's character is a testament to the wonderful woman and mother she was.

No Greater Love said...

Ahhhhh!!! Crying. That was beautiful. So glad that I am perusing some of your old posts. Your mother sounds amazing....and it is so sad that she died. I just can't even imagine the grief you went through, and still must go through.

And...I have thought it straight from the beginning...but now I see the proof...Sunflower look SO MUCH LIKE YOU!!!!!!!!