Friday, January 30, 2015

Happy Birthday Mom

Today would have been my mom's 61st birthday.  I sit here in the early morning dark, nothing but the glow of my computer to light up the living room. While my hubby and children sleep, I realize that waking up so early is the perfect way to start today.  My mom was a morning person, and I never have been.  We were so alike, and so different, in many ways.  I miss her terribly, and always will, but the pain of saying "goodbye" is losing it's sting.  Although vastly different experiences, I compare the feeling of losing the life of my mom, to gaining the life of my two children:  I had no pain medication during my deliveries, and the pain of birthing a new life will never be forgotten.  I will always remember the horrible pain, however joy slowly takes the place of pain as I reminisce.  

On my mom's birthday, I have decided to share the words I spoke at my mom's Celebration of Life service:

"You are all here to celebrate the life of my mom because she most likely touched your life in a unique way.  You all had different types of relationships with my mom and knew her in different ways, but I want to share with you who my mother was to me and give you a glimpse into our relationship that only she and I were able to experience.

My mom could comfort me like no other and had a very special way of making me feel special.
  • She would make me cinnamon-sugar toast when I wasn't feeling well.
  • While taking a bath when I was young, she would place my towel in the dryer so when bath time was over, I got a hug, and a warm, fluffy towel.
  • Lying in bed with my mom (and Natalie) at night before my Dad came in. We would read, look at magazines, talk about our days, and play footsies – she could not leave my feet alone :)
  • She insisted on putting every single Christmas ornament I ever made on the tree, even up until last year, and even though I insisted she didn't have to.  She was very sentimental.
  • She put special thought and intention into the gifts she gave and loved sending hand-written notes of encouragement out of the blue, or would tuck them away for me to unexpectedly find in surprising places.
  • My mom (and Dad) were my biggest cheerleaders in life.  Never missing one dance or vocal performance, track meet, or soccer game (even though I wasn't good) when I was in high school, home or away. 
  • Once Matt and I had our daughter, my Mom would make the 3 hour drive at the drop of a hat if ever we needed help. Only to return home and work on the weekend to catch up at her job.
  • I remember her tucking my hair behind my ears so she could “see my face”.
  • She hugged with all her might.
  • Her nickname for me, even as an adult, was “Bug”.
  • Butterfly kisses, Eskimo kisses and singing “you are my sunshine” are memories with my mom I will always have and are also new memories I now get to create with my daughter Lucy.
  • My mom emulated true selflessness and relentless, unconditional love.

My mom was unique.  Quirky, some may say...
  • She loved to read, but always had to read the ending of the book before she started from the beginning.
  • She also read magazines back to front.
  • She loved to buy and read cookbooks, more so than she actually cooked from them.
  • Whenever we ate out at a restaurant, she would organize and pile up all of our dishes on the end of the table to make it easy for the staff.
  • At Christmastime, when wrapping our presents, she used way too much tape. She really made us work to get those presents open....and I've realized I now do the same.
  • And she was NOT a gardener; she dubbed herself as having a “brown thumb”.  She could not even keep a bamboo plant or a cactus I bought for her.

Mom's 60th surprise party

My mom lived life passionately, was adventurous, and willing to try new things…
  • She told me about how exciting it was to see Elvis in concert.
  • She was a gun owner, and enjoyed going to the shooting range with Dad…and was a very good shot too.
  • She went skydiving in her 40s.
  • Learned to ride a motorcycle, and even got a tattoo (of a butterfly), in her 50s.
  • And the two of us had plans to go bungee jumping in Canada, which I will still do next year.

Her bike "Faith"
My mom loved…
  • The color yellow.
  • She loved Butterflies, they were ALL over our [yellow] house.
  • Chris Daughtry.
  • She loved playing (and winning) card games and board games.  She was very competitive, even when we were little…but she did play nice with her grand kids.
  • My mom loved the sound and the smell of rain.
  • She loved lavender, wind chimes and Earl Grey tea.
  • My mom loved a wide variety of music and loved singing.  I’ll always remember her cleaning house with all the windows open and oldies or worship music playing loudly and her singing along.
  • And there was no doubt of the abundant love she had for her grand kids – I knew she was a great mom, but was blown away with what an amazing grandmother she was. Her whole being lit up when she was able to spend time with her grand kids - chasing them around the house and playing on the floor with them making them laugh, they wore each other out!
  • Life around her stood still when she was with her grand babies.

I will always admire...
  • Her faith in God
  • Her strength through adversity and incredibly difficult circumstances she faced throughout her entire life
  • Her compassion for others
  • Her sense of humor
  • and her candor
  • She was passionate about every aspect of life.

Doctors told my mom she had 3 months to live after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000.  I am so thankful she fought so hard and we were given 14 more years together, a second chance at life is an opportunity that not everyone is blessed with. I was given the blessing of having my mom in my life when I married my husband and when our first child was born – I will forever be grateful I was able to share those monumental moments of joy with her.

So, rather than dwell on what our future may have been, I am trying my best to take advice from my Dad and praise God for the extra years I was blessed to have with her, and for my memories that will always be a part of me.

I don’t anticipate there will ever come a day I don’t miss her terribly, but I also know that this pain will ease with time.

And on crisp, rainy days, or whenever I see a butterfly, or hear a Daughtry song, I will do my best to smile and be thankful for memories made and for these reminders of what made my mom so special."

Happy Birthday Mom!

My mom, the original MOM:
Part 1: A Story of Survival
The Shocking News

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