Today was the memorial service for my mom and I decided to say a few words in the form of a letter written to my mom during the service. I share it with you in her honor and memory.
I know I haven’t written you a letter in a long time but I just had to tell you some things that have been on my mind recently. I was thinking the other day about the gift I gave you when you moved into Tustin Manor. The small stained glass frame with the saying “Mom, I will never outgrow my love for you” has been etched in my mind. That saying cannot be more true. I have been thinking of when my love for you first bloomed. Was it before I could remember as you held me in your arms, or when you played with me as a toddler? Was it when I fell down and you kissed my skinned knee? Or was it there even before? I know I felt it as we waited for the AVON lady to come. Would you order something for me this time? I felt it as we watched TV together. You would watch Sesame Street with me and I would watch the Guiding Light with you. I felt your love when I could smell your perfume when I was in your arms. I always felt better when I knew you were close. I felt your love even when you turned on the vacuum cleaner that scared me so. I know you were right there to help me find my things that had fallen in the magic crack of my bed and the couch. I felt your love as you sent me to take a nap before Wallace and Ladmoe would come on TV. My love for you grew as you took us kids to the doctor and on your errands. I remember when you let me dress up in my cowboy outfit and “rob” the bank. I remember our trips to Babbit’s grocery store and if we were good to Thriftys for ice cream. I remember chicken noodle casserole and sloppy joes, and Mus-go on Fridays. As I grew older I remember watching you read your books and I wanted to be like you. I remember seeing you teach VBS and Sunday School and longing to hear your Bible stories. Thank you for teaching me about Jesus!! I will never forget our move out to California when the car broke down at McDonalds and we stayed in a hotel. It was the first time we ever stayed up late enough to watch Saturday Night live with you and Dad. We always wondered what you guys were laughing about when we went to sleep. As dad stayed behind to fix the car you took care of us on the bus and didn’t mind Josh’s constant cries of “Cow-na-forna!!” My love for you grew as I grew and spent more time at school and away from you, but you were always there showing me how to live. As you taught Sunday school, sang in the choir, and sat with us at church, I learned so much from just watching you. My love grew for you as I sat on your lap and you showed me how to sew on a button and to use a needle and thread to fix my pants. You will never know how much you helped me by teaching me how to make pancakes and cookies and other things, and even to do my own laundry. By the time I was in my teens I looked forward to tater tots and “This Old House” every afternoon after school. You were starting to struggle then but my love for you never struggled. I was a hard day when you moved out but I knew it was for the best. I remember our Saturday trips to Spires for Beefeaters, and Breakfast. As you got more sick, my love grew stronger. I missed having my mom around every day but I held on to what you taught me. It was a harder day when you had to move from Tustin to Torrance. Dad and I looked long and hard for a great place for you to live. My love continued even though I seemed to be distant for a while. It was hard seeing you change so much and when I would see you, my heart would break. I struggled seeing you slip into a silent world. I thank the Lord for a place like Golden Cross nursing home. They took such good care of you there. Vida and Linda and the rest always made me feel welcome and they treated you as you were their own mother. I will never forget the day Dad and I sat at your bedside to tell you that you were a grandma when Matthew was born. Your eyes lit up and I could tell you were excited. I hope you saw us as we sat by your bed talking to you and praying. I hope you felt our love as we tried to take care of you the best we could. Mom, there are so many things I wish you could have been there for. The graduations, birthdays and wedding celebrations were not the same without you there. Your spunk and vigor of life were missed. I am sorry you missed seeing Dawn follow in your footsteps in the classroom. You would be so proud as she carries on your love of teaching. I am sorry you didn’t get to see Dawn be the wonderful mom and wife she is. I am sorry you missed seeing your little baby Josh grow up. He might have had a rough start but he has more than made up for it. You should see him now, he is so much like you, you don’t even know. You would glow with pride if you could visit him at MI. He does such a great job, thanks to your good start. I am sorry you missed all my basketball games in high school. I wish you could have heard my camp stories and I wish I could have cried on your shoulders when I had girl troubles. I wish you could have seen your newest grandchildren. Don’t worry, I will tell them all about you. I wish you could see what a success you sister has become. She loves you so much and is a wonderful grand-ma. I wish you could have sat and brushed Kirsten’s girls hair. She and Jennifer have grown into wonderful ladies and they miss their Aunt Mar terribly.
Mom, I will NEVER outgrow my love for you. As I got to hold your hand for the first time in years last week, I hope you felt my love for you, which began when you first loved me. I know that today even as I grieve your loss I am strengthened by your faith. I know that Jesus loves you and was at your bedside when none of us could be. I know that he held your hand when things were tough. I know that he called you his own in Baptism and that he loves you more than I ever can. Today you get to experience his love first hand as you join your parents at the feast of the Lamb. If you are lucky they will break out the cards and you can play some pinochle with them again. Just don’t let Amo count the cards this time. This is a sad but joyous day and I know that you would want us to dry up our tears and light up a good cigar and celebrate your newfound freedom in paradise. Mom, I love you with all my heart and I look forward to seeing you someday in heaven, and when I do I will wrap my arms around your neck and breath deep to smell your perfume and all will be right once again.
All My Love,
(The picture above is my parents with my older sister Dawn circa 1969)
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