Saturday, February 23, 2013

Farewell Mom

Sunday morning we scattered ashes off the pier at Juanita Beach in Kirkland,which hit Nick hard. For me, driving by her old condo pulled my heartstrings even more.

It was blustery and cold, but we tried to think of a word or phrase that made us think of her. Miller's "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" made us all smile - How many times we'd heard her say that growing up! And its pretty good advice for an adult in social situations too...

I said "sufficiently surrencified", which Mom said her Mom wanted them to say instead of "I''m stuffed!" after dinner. It never really caught on with us, but would make us laugh.

Her brother Lymie and sister Janie spoke at the funeral, describing her as the feisty and stubborn baby of the family. How odd to think of her in that way, when I saw her as the peacemaker and calm one.

 Billy made Mom a lovely urn and one little one for each of the 4 kids.  It was surprisingly heavy when filled, making it feel more substantial and somehow valuable.

Sorting through her things was really painful. Hard to give or throw anything away that felt personal, but we had to.  I wished I could have taken an antique chair, but how would I have gotten it to the UK? A brass lamp pushed my bag to the weight limit.

There was great comfort in spending time with Stormi, Miller, Linnie and Missi. We didn't want to go home, back to our normal lives. And the grandkids wanted to be together too.  When will we all meet again without Mom's birthday to celebrate? A wedding perhaps?

It struck me that for all the business, charity and church friends that Mom had, the ones that really mattered at the end were family.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

My Mom passed away last weekend

It was after a long decline, and a release as she had lost her grasp on reality.  But now I want to remember her as she was before, when she was the centre of my world as a baby, then the peacemaker between and comforter to four kids and all our pets.  I don't remember her complaining about all the hassle of running a home that was always open to friends, adapting to new towns, people and places following Dad's  career. She took it all in stride.
I'm thinking about what to say at the Memorial Service, after my uncle who will be an eloquent speaker, about her integrity, good works and religious life.

I'm Toni, the oldest, chief troublemaker (but not the only one!) and as kids do, I mostly I took her love, interest in me and support for granted.  It was only when I became a mother myself - and of only two little monsters, that I realised that what I had come to expect Mothers did was actually very difficult to do.  The mob of kids that descended on our house, trips to the emergency room, treaties negotiated between warring siblings, while entertaining Dad's business guests.  The weekend trips from Chicago to Michigan (8 hrs each way!) with extra kids and dogs, packing all the food and gear...

I count 12 different houses that we lived in, so many school and sports events.  She told me once that she felt bad after she'd left her post after dropping her pencil in the snow when the sun went behind the mountain when she was on gatekeeper duty while we were ski racing in Breckenridge. (And I thought a little rain while watching Nick play rugby made me a hero).

But its her foibles that I recognise most in myself.  She rear-ended a car while teaching me how to blow bubbles in chewing gum... (yep, I've had less of an excuse to run into a car).

And when she was my age she used to read what we called "lady and the castle books", you know the picture on the cover, gothic suspense fiction like Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt - where the virtuous governess had to work out the mystery for herself, using her intelligence and bravery. (OK the escapism I read now has a few vampires and werewolves, but Mom introduced me to fantasy).

Sometimes she messed up our names, calling me Linnie or Missi and then looking exasperated - struggling to bring the right name to mind.  I suspect you'll hear me call my son Nick - Miller, or Miller -Nick today.

Most of all, we knew she was always there for us kids and grandkids. Mom had an incredibly positive mental outlook and if there is anything I want to emulate it was her ability to make the best of what she had, welcome change and to truly be happy.