Friday, May 30, 2014

Words About My Mom


Maureen was my mom's first friend here in the Pacific Northwest. We were extremely close to her entire family growing up, she also threw my bridal shower! Maureen spoke about my mom at the memorial and I thought it captured my mom perfectly. I felt peace listening to Maureen's words because they were true.  A little good, a little bad and a little humor. Her speech is below if you wish to read.
How do we say goodbye to a friend who touched our lives in so many ways and left us too soon? 

We miss her.  We will continue to miss her.  She left a legacy for all of us.  We are all a little better having had her in our lives …  But, in Susie’s typical no nonsense way, she would want us move on and get on with the business of living.  Living is both easier and harder now that she touched our lives.  Easier because she modeled for us how to be strong and how to have faith and how to find joy in the simple things.  Harder because she touched us—through her many kindnesses and special ways—and we don’t want to let her go.

Almost twenty-five years ago I met Susie at our church nursery soon after we had both arrived to the Northwest. Our friendship was instant. We raised our kids together—and we, too, grew as our lives took unexpected turns.  I moved around the country, but the distance was never a problem.  As many of you know, Susie was as good a long distance friend as she was a neighbor.  We picked right back up with each phone call, visit, and move.  Oh, how we laughed together.
Over the years, I learned many valuable lessons from her.  She taught me to give my small children Benadryl to knock them out on plane rides…  She said it was a public service.  She taught me how to survive when our husbands were on business trips.  Simply make the day shorter—feed the kids at 4, pajamas at 4:30 and put the kids to bed at 5—then put your feet up and pop a cold one.   Susie had so many helpful parenting hints she could have written a best selling book!

Susie was humble about her many accomplishments:  She made each house a home through many moves.  She was an awesome mother to two wonderful young women.  She made room and had the time for her aging parents.  Miss Susie created a preschool program and was a beloved teacher; some of her students are here today.  Susie went out of her comfort zone and sold space in the family’s parenting magazine.  She dreaded approaching people for a sale, but she cherished the relationships she made as a result.

Susie touched many of you through church: Sunday School and Bible studies, dinners and wine tastings, or through play productions.  Susie was a mentor through Communities in Schools, connecting with and guiding Mia.   Babies R Us was lucky to have her for a few years, as was the Breast Center at St. Francis.  Her efficient manner reduced stress and her gentleness and kind words surely brought strength to many women.

When I think of Susie, I have to smile.  She was one of those women who made us feel good.  She found joy in small things.  She had a gift for making everyone she met feel special—whether it was a hug, a card, a little gift, or a quick phone call, she always remembered each of us. Of course, she was the first to get her Christmas cards out—the day after Thanksgiving—hers was probably the first in your mailbox as well. I will miss that envelope with her distinctive handwriting and a least one heart or smiley face announcing that it really was the beginning of the Christmas season.  And, she had beaten me again!

I remember the call I got from Susie two Christmases ago. I heard the fear in her voice and the hope in her message and what she wasn’t telling me.  I grieved that day!  I thought of Molly and Megan and what they would go though.  I thought of how fragile life is and how we don’t know from one day to the next what might come our way.  But, I knew the power of prayer, and like the rest of you, got busy on my knees. 

Prayers were answered: her birthday passed.  Another Christmas, and finally her 55th birthday, and Susie was still with us.  During that time, she got to share Molly and Dustin’s engagement and bridal shower.  She saw Megan working hard in grad school and see Megan and Craig in a loving marriage. Despite her illness, Susie had time for all of us: our birthdays and special events, our fears and illnesses were still acknowledged with calls and prayers and cards. 

She was also surrounded by love—Molly and Megan were at her side.  Her siblings have done more than any siblings I have ever known.  Becky and Debbie, Jeff, Kent, and Greg, you are an inspiration to us all about what it means to be family.  Your mother Marge would be proud. 

Susie was supported as well by friends—holding her hand at the doctor and taking notes for her, visiting her, carting her around, sending food and flowers and well wishes. Eventually, Susie allowed more of us the gift of caring for her personal needs. She accepted what little we could do with love and kindness and dignity and humor. 

We will miss her.  Life will go on—a graduation, a wedding, holidays, babies born, and other life events—and if we look, we will sense her among us—in a tender touch, a greeting with her signature back rub, through a child’s eyes, in a thoughtful note sent from one friend to another, in a clean, tidy home, and through a loud, piercing whistle calling us to pray and eat and gather round.  She is with us.  
Maureen, your words were perfect. You captured my mom and her spirit perfectly. Thank you for sharing.

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