As I was making my coffee this morning two deer walked right past the kitchen window. It’s always a bit of magic to see them up close. I took my cup and went to the porch to sit in the director’s chair Mom often used and looked out over the silvery lake. The sky is blue again, just a smattering of clouds, the sun is rising and warm on my face.
How perfect that you can see the rosebud peering up over the side of the porch, saying good morning with it’s youthful bright yellow loveliness — reminding me once again of Mom’s eternal beauty.
The wind settles to a gentle hush then starts up again through the trees, creating a cocoon of solitude around me. Only the birds and crickets compete — the gull’s high pitched calls, gentle warbles and chirps from all directions, creating a symphony of notes.
Mom would sit here taking the beauty in. She’d like to know that I’m here, alone with nothing but hours and a few days to fill as I choose. She would stay for a long time in this spot, praying and just being with God. If I happened to come and join her, she always welcomed my company although now I see I was an intruder of sorts. There was nothing she loved more though than to have her family around her.
It was the one thing that got overlooked at her service. Her years as a young woman were covered. Her work and ministries well acknowledged but nothing was said about her most precious work and most thankless — being a mother. Not one of our names was mentioned and apart from God, her family was everything to her. I’ll take responsibility for that. I guess there just wasn’t enough time to fit it all in. I’m so sorry Mom. I’ll do it now.
She made our clothes by hand. Not an outfit here or there — but intricately stitched coats, dresses, shirts and pants for all of us. She made Dad a plaid bathrobe that still hangs in the attic with patches in the seat that have frayed off the fabric because it’s so worn through. I can’t bring myself to toss it. She made many of her own clothes, picking out patterns from the large books — McCall’s, Simplicity — in the fabric departments along with the material, buttons, zippers, lace and rick-rack. I remember the day she got her new Singer sewing machine — it did zig-zag stitches. She made bright pillows out of Marimekko prints. Worn and stained, I still have those too. Todd just shakes his head at me.
Mom’s kitchen was not a place to mess around, though we did. Exploding milkshakes out of the blender that someone flipped the switch without the lid on and burning her well cared for copper bottomed pans, making endless batches of popcorn. She would tell me that we could work alongside each other without getting in each others way. Her kitchen wasn’t large — you just needed a good sense of who was doing what, when. We had that and I loved cooking with her. It was the talking that made it rich — more so than the food, though that was rich too. Both rich with her love. You see her everywhere still — in the dishes, glassware, platters, pie plates and cookbooks with her carefully scripted notes in the margins.
Her music was the sound of her soul. We would often wake to her playing the keys on her Steinway like there was no tomorrow. We were kids and would hold our pillows over our heads. What we wouldn’t give to hear it now — Chopin, Debussy, Bach, Mozart and more along with her improvisations and beloved Hymns. She loved it when we’d all gather around the piano and sing. On holidays we would try to make recordings to send to the grandparents — Ed, John, Joan and me. Mom would play and Dad would record. We would start laughing. No matter how mad Dad got or how many times we’d stop and start over, we couldn’t get through a carol. We’d cover our ears and not look at each other to no avail. One of us would break and the rest would follow. I guess we sent fruit boxes for gifts instead.
We read together, camped, skied and traveled together as a family. We prayed together and fought together. When Mom got mad she got quiet. It was a quiet that could still an army. As time passed and tragedy struck, like it tends to, we stuck together.
Often forging out new territory on her own, she lead like a true pioneer from start to finish. She never lost hope, even if it was just hope for a day, and she always passed it on to others.
My close friend still talks about the time she and her husband moved in next door to my parents. Mom took a tray of her homemade brownies over as a welcome gift. Mom’s gifts were always from her heart. Her music came from her heart. Her beauty came from her heart and she loved with all her heart.
We miss you Mom — every day. We knew you wanted your service to be focused on Jesus, not yourself, so that’s what we focused on. I hope this makes up a little for our oversight. We know you’re with Him now and we have a rose as a reminder and a promise — like the rainbow — that we’ll be together again.