My mom died unexpectedly this morning. She left my dad, 4 children, 13 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. She was 77. She had been successfully battling cancer. Our family was with her just last week, and she was doing great. On the drive back from Wisconsin to New Mexico, we got the call that her aorta had torn, and she was not expected to make it through the night.
A few years ago I wrote a tribute to my mom. I would be honored if you took a few moments to read it. I titled it, “She’s Not Just Anybody’ s Mom”
She had one of the toughest jobs of anyone in the world…being a mom. It required the skills of many occupations: nursing, taxi-cab driver, secretary, administrator, chef, maid, teacher and counselor to name only a few. She did it all without complaining and was content with her role. In fact, this mom is one of the greatest persons I know. She’s not just anybody’s mom…she’s my Mom.
For nine months, she carried me in her womb while I kicked at her ribs. The pain was minimal compared to the joy of having the first of her four children. My mom nursed us through dozens of colds, sore throats, bouts of the flu, bronchial pneumonia and chicken pox. She was always there through sickness to offer us 7-Up and toast until we were healthy again. I saw her care for many others also. She nursed my Dad through a high fever in Greeley, through a perforated ulcer and back problems. When a life threatening epiglottitis left his airway almost swollen shut, she was there to get him to the hospital in time. With her gracious hospitality, she opened her home to Grandpa and Aunt Lyda as their bodies succumbed to cancer. There was never any doubt that Mom would offer compassion, kindness and care to anyone in need.
Mom’s kitchen was the best place to be. It was cozy, and a great place to hang out because she was there. I remember chocolate instant breakfast drinks before Little League games. On Sunday after church, there was bacon and eggs or waffles with strawberries and Cool Whip. Her baked beans were famous. No one else could make them quite like she could. She made chocolate oatmeal cookies and fudge at Christmas time. All the food that came from Mom’s kitchen was great-even the fish sticks that we had to eat on Friday nights when she took time off to go on a date with my Dad.
Mom always had a forgiving heart. She forgave me for the times as a toddler when I surprised her with a bite on the back of the leg as she stood at the sink doing my dishes. She forgave me when I threw tantrums and banged my head on the tree for not getting my way. She forgave me when I went through my rebellious stage and didn’t want anything to do with her. When she left me in charge of dinner, and I destroyed the meal by adding green food color in the creamed potatoes, she let that slide. For all the times I teased her about her old sweatshirt and baggy pants, and for all those times I made her “sick and tired”, she forgave me.
Mom was a humble servant. She never got much of the spotlight, but she was always present. She graduated from college with honors and became a teacher. When I came along, she laid down her career to be at home with me. She was self-sacrificing, placing my needs above her own. When I needed to be at baseball or basketball practice, she got me there. She never got the credit, but she never complained. She made me feel important. At my games, she was in the stands cheering for me. When we went on family vacations, she got us organized and packed, though I’m sure it was not much a vacation for her.
Mom taught me to have good manners and the importance of honoring people with hand-written thank you notes. She taught me the value of money and how to balance a checkbook. She stretched our one income teacher’s salary to help put me, my brother and sisters through college. When I hid behind the couch and thought nobody loved me, she held me in her lap and taught me that love and discipline go hand in hand. I guess she never give up her teaching career after all.
My Mom was a loyal wife. She was faithful to my Dad and a perfect partner for him. She worked alongside him to run the basketball camps every summer. She often worked behind the scenes at home to organize and collect camp registrations. She helped him run the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Clinic every year also. Her work went mostly unnoticed by the crowds, but my dad knew that she was the reason for it’s’ success. She was the right complement for my Dad. She loved him dearly and was at his side wherever they went.
Only God knows how many of my stinky diapers she changed, how many snotty noses she wiped, how many rides to games and practices she gave me, how many fevers and sicknesses she nursed, or how many tears she compassionately wiped from our eyes with little thanks or appreciation shown in return. She did these things and many more as a humble servant. She never complained; she was self-sacrificing and forgiving; she was a perfect partner for my Dad.
She is truly a woman to be honored.
She’s not just anybody’s mom…She’s my Mom.
Thanks for all you’ve done for me, Mom. I love you.
Each of us was able to tell her good-bye and that we loved her. Now, she is with Jesus and in a better place. But we miss her. I am so grateful that we were able to spend last week with her.
Is there anyone you need to spend time with, and let them know you love them before it is too late?
A couple helpful articles:
- Facing the Great Inevitable: How to face death and dying without fear
- Where Do We Go From Here: to those recovering from a major loss