In several weeks where my blog was silent, a significant event passed. The first anniversary of Mom's death was March 30th.
I think Mom was around age 18 in this photo. She and Dad were married when Mom was 19. In this photo she has her engagement ring only.
My brothers deferred to me regarding Mom's gravestone message. It took me awhile to even be able to focus on on it, but I was pretty sure I didn't want anything typical, like, "In Loving Memory" or "Beloved Mother". When I finally did put some thought into it, I knew I wanted something that reflected who she was to more than just her three children. She was loved and important to many over her long life. One day, three words came to me that seemed to say it all. I conferred with my brothers and they liked the message so we went with it.
During the Funeral Week we created a canvas on which we could write words and phrases that described Mom, or messages of love and thanks to her. We had it at the visitation where guests contributed their sentiments as well. Beautiful, respected, and loved seemed to be common.
Mom was born just before the big stock market crash. My Grandpa was an engineer and my Nana was a music teacher. Mom grew up in the 1930's and once told me she remembered seeing the milkman park in front of the house in a horse drawn cart.
A few days before she passed away, we got out old photo albums, both the family's and Mom's really old ones. Spouses and grandkids enjoyed seeing for the first time old black and white photos of Mom as a child, wedding photos, pictures of her childhood dog, my Nana and Grandpa, and other relatives. We poured over scrapbooks and photo albums in snatches but as a family. The grandkids also got to see photos of their dads growing up. It was nice.
Mom was a dancer when she was a girl. We are blessed to have some wonderful photos of some of her performances.
I love this photo of Mom laughing. It was taken at her birthday celebration a year or so before she died.
As the anniversary of Mom's passing drew closer, I started looking over my journal of that period last year. I remember how draining and emotional her illness was. How sad I felt. How tired I was. We moved her home from the hospice house one week before she died. That was a difficult week that also had blessings. Family was around every day. Family from out of town also came to help care for her and to be close. The closeness and support that filled the house every day was comforting and strengthening.
After she passed I received these gorgeous spray orchids from our old church where I used to be secretary. They were so beautiful and they blessed and cheered me so very much. Mom loved pigs and I set the flowers next to one of her many (many) pigs.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Though this is a totally unflattering picture of me, it speaks volumes about what Funeral Week was like. I don't know if I was listening to someone here, or if I was just staring off ...either thinking of all the things to do or simply in exhaustion.
At the visitation the night before Mom's funeral, it took me almost until the end before I had a chance to sit down with my dad. I love this photo of us. My husband took it, wanting to record what he knew was a special moment for me. We talked about Mom, how hard it was for us to face that she was gone, and shared how special she was and shared our love for each other as we sat with arms around each other. After several minutes, we made our way to the casket together.
Though Mom and Dad divorced when I was 14, they remained amiable and our family celebrated holidays and birthdays together. I'll never forget two special things my Dad said. Just before we turned from the casket to go back up the aisle, he said to her, "Byyee-bye." And as we walked away, he said to me, "I spent a third of my life with her."
This is Mom at her 70th birthday party.
This is Mom at her 81st birthday party 6 months before she died.
During Funeral Week, I took a lot of condolence calls. Everyone shared their love for Mom and they all seemed to have a story of how she touched their lives. It was such a blessing to hear. She blessed everyone she knew over the years of her life. As the hours and days went on and I kept hearing from more people,I realized I needed to share at her funeral. Though I was nervous and wasn't at all sure I could do it, I knew beyond any doubt that I had to. I realized that we each knew her differently. We each had different experiences with her. She touched us all in whatever relationship we had with her. I knew just what I would share. It was a "Thank You Mom" tribute I wrote for her for Mother's Day nine years earlier. All I needed to do was add a preface and a conclusion and it would be great. I'll post what I shared in a separate post.