Today will be one of the hardest moments in my entire life but I know with 100% certainty that my mom would insist that I stand here and speak of her and I can only imagine the audience that she has gathered up there in Heaven. Mom loved a good compliment…maybe even a little ego stroke now and then, So MOM, this is for you!!!
“A mother’s love is the heartbeat of a family” Our mom wasn’t just the heartbeat of her children and her family but she was the heartbeat of so many people who know and love her. My mom was my biggest fan, my best friend, and my sounding board for all of life’s stories. She was my go-to girlfriend and I was hers. My mom moved to Heaven too soon, just a few weeks shy of her 63rd birthday and although 62 is incredibly young, they say that it’s not about how many years you have in your life but the life that you have in your years. Well let me tell you that my mom LIVED…she lived for her Children, her grandchildren, and for life littlest moments. She put so much life into her 62 years and added to the lives of so many in that time. My mom shared many many stories of her childhood with my siblings and I. There are so many stories and memories that I will replay in my head over and over. Some of the most memorable ones were her memories of life as a military child, Sunday morning room inspections by her father (she could bounce a quarter off a bed after she made it), her mother’s tireless work to put food on the table after her father’s death and the responsibility she had to carry to help out with her brothers, the way she would roll her hair in soup cans and the huge shift in her life after she became a mother at the young age of 17. One of my favorite pieces of information that my mom constantly shared with me over the years was her childhood dream. Whenever I asked her what she dreamt of as a little girl, she would tell me that her life dream was to be a mother. For Tim, Katie and I, that is really where the best part of her life story began. Our mom gave us real life…. honest, memorable, perfectly imperfect, precious life. I grew up in a home where we could speak freely, whether it was our opinion, our feelings or even our grievances. Our voices were heard and considered. I could ask tough questions and she was never afraid to give us tough answers. She didn’t believe in sugar coating the truth and knew that with every tough answer was an important life lesson for us to learn. My mom was filled with love and told us how much she loved us often, hugs and kisses were commonplace but so was reality…the reality of life, the reality of health, disappointment and perseverance. She taught us so much just by the way she loved us and by her example of Grace and poise during adversity. She was proof that a life that is well lived is not one that occurs without fault or hardship yet it is one where you face the absolute worst of times and still manage to find light in your life and in the life of others.
As a child my mom confided in me often over the hours and hours that we spent riding in the car to and from gymnastics six days a week. She would always bring along the newspaper so that I could read aloud to her and our days weren’t complete until I read her everyones horoscope and then we would ponder what they might mean. She was always on the sideline letting my sister and I shine…every so often a little bit of stage mom would come out but who can blame her, she only wanted us to do our best. As a teen my mom was the cool mom to our friends and all of our friends loved having her hang out with us when she could. Maybe it was her chatty personality, her sound advice or her desire to know all of the juicy details of every story…whatever it was, we all enjoyed having her around. She supported me tirelessly by driving me to and from my countless activities, spending her weekends at gymnastics meets, dance competitions and cheerleading competitions. As her health declined she would conserve her energy all week so that she could be behind the scenes cheering me on on Friday nights and during Saturday competitions. As a teen I always thought it was “cool” that my friends referred to my mom as “Mom”. I was proud that they confided in her and wanted her around. But as an adult, as a mother and as all of your memories flood in, I realize the magnitude of importance she has been to so many…to so many of our friends who could not confide in their moms but had questions, were scared or just simply needed a hug or a friendly reminder that “this too shall pass”. Our friends always loved mom but at such a crucial time in our adolescence, they trusted her. I could tell my mom anything with the confidence that she would listen and process and then have a conversation with me, her little girl, about the reality of my decision and the importance of thinking beyond the moment. She never shamed me for my adolescent mistakes and always allowed me the freedom to experience life and grow but with a cushion to catch me if I should fall. My mom would move mountains for us. Often spending her days driving my sister and I around, sacrificing everything so that we could have and do. Our happiness was her most important priority. She went without so that we could have and that never changed. Mom has always been my biggest supporter, telling me that I can, even when so many didn’t think i could. She encouraged me to achieve my dreams of cheering at NC State, she let me go even though I know the distance broke her heart, she was always genuinely happy for me even in the times that it was clear that I was growing up, I was changing, and I was developing a life of my own. Despite my life changes, there is 1 thing that always remained constant. MOM was always there…pushing me into the spotlight, filled with pride, lifting me up, wanting it for me just as bad as I wanted it for myself. When I spent the better part of 4 years as a solo parent with my husband out to sea, Mom was always there. Three simple words sprung her into action…I need you…she was there. I always needed her in some way and that will never change. When I tossed around the idea of starting my own business, she was the only one who believed in my vision and of course she was my first client and my best promoter. From the moment she became a grandmother, she always took a great interest in her grandkids. She would engage them with questions and always listen intently to their answers. She was limited in the way she could physically play with them but made up for it in the way she made our kids feel like they were the most important people in the room and that what they had to say trumped all other conversation. She was the Grammy….not just to our kids but to the kids of our friends also. My boys friends went crazy when “Grammy” was in town…she played minecraft, batman, paw patrol, beauty parlor, kitchen and ninja turtles like it was her job. She would always say “I love you all BUT I REALLY LOVE my grandkids….it’s just different” Her love for those little ones was undeniable!
For mothers day 2015, I gave my mom a gratitude journal with all of the things that made me grateful to have her as my mom….I told her to write in it when she needed a reminder of all the good in her life. I found the journal the other day with nothing written in it….a little while later I found a piece of paper with the word Gratitude at the top….must have been a rough draft…but in her own words….
“Grateful….what a word, what a topic. I am so grateful for all that I have been given. Every morning when I open my eyes I am grateful. I know I am the woman with 9 lives, the one who has been to hell and back. The doctors wonder who I am still here and sometimes I wonder to. But then I stop and think about it. And believe me, I have a lot of time to think. I have had a wonderful life, and amazing wonderful life and I thank God each and every single day for the opportunities I have had. Sure, they were tough but I wouldn’t be the woman I am today with out those obstacles and I truly believe that my children would be the wonderful adults that they are had it not been for the adversities and sickness they were faced with.”
My mom was a true testament to overcoming hardship and always managing to shine brighter after the storm. She was a beautiful soul both inside and out. She was a free spirit in the sense that she could be completely inappropriate but with the best of intentions. She loved hard and she forgave to a fault. She gave to her detriment…her time, her advice, her money, and her heart. Always giving of herself for the sake of others. She was a fighter in every sense of the word but sensitive beyond comprehension. She cried easily but was the rock and the strength of our family. Her dreams were simple but the journey was oh so complicated. Her heart was soft both literally and figuratively. She always wanted more for others than she did for herself…For Timmy, Katie and I she always wanted us to know better, to do better and to have better than she ever did. She was fiercely optimistic, always saying “it’s going to get better…it has to”, her joy was seeing others happy….she worried way too much and tried so hard to protect us as her health declined. Her smile was contagious, she laughed really loud, and she would dominate any conversation when given the opportunity to brag on her grandkids. Over the past few days we have been wrapped with love, prayers and amazing memories which has been such a comfort and a great reminder that Mom made an impact on so many people.
When I was little she would tell me that if she could bottle me up and sell me she would be a millionaire. As a teen and young adult my mom would always say that she lived vicariously through me and my life experiences that she never had. Over the past few years she would tell people that when she grew up, she wanted to be just like me. I am her creation, she poured into me with everything she had. I didn’t just become this person, she made me who I am.
She gave us our first breath and we were there when she took her last. She loved life but boy did she love her kids…motherhood was her dream, her life’s work, and her love and impact as our mother will be her legacy.
Mom, there are no words for how empty I feel without you but I will cherish knowing that we had an unbreakable bond that will always be with me. I will spend the rest of my life trying to carry on your legacy of love and selflessness. I would be nothing without you. No one loves you more than I do and no one will ever love me more than you loved me! You gave me your best love for 34 years….but I will love you my entire life. There aren’t words for this loss but I can quote a favorite song of ours…”thank you, thank you, thank God for you, the wind beneath my wings” I love you Mom