I awoke today thinking about my mom and the remarkable person that she was. I don’t think about her every day anymore, but she is never too far from my thoughts. She’s been gone for almost a year and a half now, but her positive influence will be with my brothers and me for the rest of our lives.
I don’t feel sadness or regret. Mom lived a full life and touched so many people in her ninety-two years. The main thing I feel is gratitude for being so lucky to have amazing parents.
Mom was the best person I ever knew—that is not hyperbole. She was always cheerful and positive, and her kind nature was 100% real. She was a great listener, and people gravitated to her because of this quality.
Mom loved her family, and she took great pride in introducing her sons wherever we went. One of the stories I like to tell about her was when I came over to visit after I had moved out of the house. When I arrived, a plumber was doing some work for my parents. Mom insisted on bringing me down to the bathroom to meet him. The befuddled expression on his face still makes me laugh. Little did he know that working on the toilet also meant meeting the family.
Even after Mom moved into a care home, she always wanted to introduce me to the workers and the other residents, though she couldn’t recall any of their names. So many conversations started with, “Have you met my son?”
She also loved her grandchildren. Nothing cheered her up more than to listen to a story about Maureen, Nat, Tim, Kevin, or Ryan. She delighted in seeing photos of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren that I used to show her from my phone.
Christmastime often meant my parents would be heading back to Minnesota to spend the holidays with my brother Tom and his family for two weeks. One beautiful story my brother passed on to me was how Mom would always make time to do something special with each grandchild on these trips.
Two lasting memories stick out in my head above all the rest: (1) Mom’s marriage to Dad. They loved and respected each other with all their hearts. They shared a love for the outdoors and were always roaming about the country in their motor home during their retirement years. (2) Mom’s faith. Mom’s relationship with God was everything to her. She lived her life in the most Christian manner, but she never tried to shove her beliefs down anyone’s throat.
Mom and I shared a lot of great times during the later years of her life because Dad had passed, and my brothers all lived a great distance away.
I treasure one particular trip that I made with Mom for a medical appointment in Oregon. It was one of the most enjoyable five-hour car rides I ever experienced. Even though Mom was in her eighties by then, she told me stories I had never heard before.
These stories were precious to me because Mom shared her feelings about her courtship with Dad. She remembered coming home following a party and telling her mom (my grandmother) that she had met a man she could see herself marrying. The problem was this man, who later became my dad, was going away to school.
Mom wasn’t limiting her dates to one gentleman at this point in her life. She told me about another guy who she was seeing that was getting serious about her. When my dad found out about Mom’s other suitor, Dad stepped up his game and made sure she knew how he felt about her. One great quality about Dad—there was never any question about what he believed about anything.
One of my remembrances of Mom in her final year is also a special memory. Mom had moved into the memory care portion of her care home, and my visits with her became more challenging. She slept a lot more, and her mind was not as sharp. I visited her every Wednesday and Sunday throughout her stay there. I tried to find ways to keep Mom engaged mentally. One way I did this was by retelling her the stories that she had told me over the years. She often didn’t remember them anymore, but she’d laugh and brighten up while she was listening.
Mom used to keep volumes of notebooks where she would record what was going on in her life over the years. Much of the material she wrote about was routine, in nature. Mom would record anything from a dentist appointment to running into a friend at the marsh on her walk. I’d read her writing back to her, and she’d listen until she’d fall asleep. I realized that we had switched roles, and she was no longer the one reading bedtime stories to me.