My mom was always there. She was there for the big games, the concerts, the awards nights… graduation, … wedding. I remember her sitting in support of me at all the big occasions. But more than that, she was… just always there.
She was there every morning… up early to make my lunch and send me to school. She would always fold the paper lunch bag so neatly and then cringe when I would grab the top, crunch it all together and run off to school. She was always there when I came home… late after practice or if I had to go home early. She was there when I left for youth group, there when I returned. She was still there when I moved to college… she was there inviting us home for a meal or the evening.
Mom was there for every birthday. She organized birthday parties for me up through my senior year of college. It was a little embarrassing for me, my mother asking my friends to her 22-year-old son’s B-day party. But she fed us well and nobody ever complained or ever turned down her invitation.
Mom was always there answering a young parent’s questions and babysitting her grandkids. Mom was just always there, honoring supporting and building me up. She was there to share in my life when I was happy, sad or anything in between.
I recall a time in college having just said goodbye to Darlene for the summer and having also just realized that I loved and wanted to build a life together with her. I was sitting at the kitchen table with a hat on my head and, I am sure, a solemn face. Mom quietly came and sat down across the table from me. When our eyes met, I noticed that she was starting to cry. She even shared in my love-struck sorrow. I cried then too. I could do that with my mom.
As a parent now, I look at how my mom was always there for me and am awed. There was no talk of “quality time.” We had many special moments of course, but I think now it is quite probable that we would have missed many quality moments if she had not given her time in such great quantity. My mom was indeed a giver.
I also remember mom’s gift of song. I remember watching her sing in church or a wedding and thinking “my mom is beautiful” her voice filling the room. She once told me that she would like for me to be able to play piano and sing. “Like Burton Cummings?” I said. “Yes, who is he?” She always encouraged me to sing. She made me want to sing.
My mom was real. There was no pretense. I don’t think she could have pretended even if she wanted to. My friend Wendy Porter told me a story of a time she traveled with dad for their work at the college. They were flying … somewhere and dad left home forgetting his briefcase. Knowing he needed it, mom hopped in the car to try to catch them. Dad drives fast, and mom would not gain any ground on route to the airport. When mom arrived at the airport, she ran into the terminal calling “Neil” not stopping to worry about the fact that she was still in her bathrobe.
I remember another time with the family all together playing games around the kitchen table. Mom had recently finished chemotherapy after her first bout with breast cancer. She had lost her hair and was wearing a wig. The game was great fun, and we were all laughing. It must have been warm in the room. In the middle of a raucous moment, mom said: “it is getting way to hot in here.” She reached up to the top of her head, grabbed the wig and threw it on the floor. We all stopped, looked at each other and then broke into even more laughter. As her hair grew back in, I recall a lady in church commenting positively on mom’s haircut. “Thank you,” she said “but it’s a hair grow” Mom always said it as it was.
My mom was a strong woman of faith. I remember such authenticity in her belief that I knew I wanted to be authentic like her.
As she faced cancer Mom’s faith was clearly evident. She always had a sense of peace, seeming to know with more than just a head knowledge that God was in control. Her quiet strength kept our family together. We could say, mom is OK, I can be too. Mom had faith enough for all of us.
Today, I remembered that day, 12 some years ago… I was driving up from Walla Walla with my family – about an eight-hour drive. About an hour into our journey, I received a call from dad saying we should do our best to get up there soon. The doctor had said she might not make it through the day. We drove hard. Mom waited. When we arrived at the hospital the room was filled with family and friends. We stood at her bedside and dad said: “Marlie, Dean and the girls are here.” I will always remember how, with great effort to overcome laboured breathing and the hazing effect of the morphine, mom sat up and opened her eyes… several times. It was like she wanted to make sure we knew that she knew we were there. As she had been all her life, even on her last day, mom was there for us.
Miss you Mum!