My mom passed away on Valentine's Day two years ago. I want to take a moment to remember and share with you, the most important person in my life. Because of her, I believe in angels.
As a person:
Karen was a gentle soul with a vivid personality. She was generous and forgiving. She would help anyone in need and never bore a grudge for long. She was inquisitive. She loved to learn new things and was fascinated with history, science, and the nature of human beings. She had a great capacity for finding joy in the little things in life. She loved yard sales and would gleefully wake us up early on Saturday mornings to hunt for treasures. Her absolute delight in the things we would get made Saturdays my favorite day of the week.
She loved her parents and brothers and sisters very much. Our family get –togethers on the holidays were made better with her presence. She maintained such a close friendship with all her siblings that they loaned movies to eachother and then constantly bickered about whose movies were whose. She loved shopping with Grandma and Aunt Wendy, dancing with Aunt Jane, and teasing Uncle Don and Uncle David. She told the funniest stories about them as children. She loved and got along with her mother so well that they were able to work together at the daycare for practically twenty years in harmony. She had a special bond with her father and was the one who pointed out to us kids that “grumpy grandpa” wasn’t so grumpy after all. I was delighted as a child to learn that my love of cars and potatoes came from him.
Her favorite color was purple and her favorite flowers were lilacs. They were our special flowers. She was ecstatic when they bloomed every spring and the enthusiasm always caught on. She loved to sing and dance, which always made housework fun. She was an artist and a poet. She loved lines, shapes and colors just as much a language, words, and rhyme. Countless homes hold things she has crafted, painted, or written from her great heart. I know everything she has made will always be greatly cherished.
She brought comfort and joy to everyone around her. She was able to reassure us all that no matter what happened, everything would turn out okay and her quiet strength asserted that a person could make it through anything.
She held no hatred or malice in her heart. Her only dislikes were actually charming little quirks: spiders, spoons, clowns, fish, and the color yellow.
She loved Christmas. I can still hear her singing “Oh Christmas Tree” in her high clear soprano as she decorated her tree and filled the house with her miniature Christmas villages. She loved decorating the tree at the daycare and making things for the hospital’s Christmas bazzar, and singing carols with the daycare kids. Her gifts were always personal and thoughtful. They showed her ability to get to know a person well enough to get them something truly special. And the amazing thing was that she didn’t just do this for holidays, she would often give unique gifts “just because.” It showed that her friends and loved ones were constantly in her thoughts.
She was a great teacher and loved children. She always knew the best way to encourage a child to live up to his or her potential. She was always correcting my grammar. Her heart was so big her calling was to not only love and teach her own children, but also to teach children across the community at the daycare, and later to teach and nurture her stepchildren who needed her very much.
As a Mother:
My mom was the best mother in the world. Her never ending love, support and encouragement went far beyond that of many mothers’. Even though she had three children to share her affections with and later two more, she always made sure to give each of us some special time and attention. She did her best to protect us as children from the bad things in life and took care of us when we were sick or sad. She gave her full support in our interests. She gave me books because I liked to read. When I began to paint, she gave me her easel and bought me paint and brushes. When I began to write, she gave me her typewriter. She did the same for my brothers and stepbrother and stepsister.
I was a lonely child at first. She was my friend and confidante. And when I met my best friend in third grade, mom encouraged that friendship, never complaining when we stayed up giggling all night. And when my friend moved away in seventh grade, mom helped us stay friends by buying me stamps and envelopes to write letters and even would endure a two hour drive several times a year to meet with my friend’s mom so we could spend a week together. Thanks to my mom, Rachel and I are still best friends.
Mom’s patience and love was legendary. When I was thirteen, I was especially difficult. We had the most passionate arguments, which were always short because she didn’t like being angry for long. She would always forgive me and assure me of her love. I remember a particular screaming match we had. She was mixing cookie dough and I drove her so crazy that she threw the mixing bowl against the kitchen wall. There was flour and sugar everywhere. We looked at eachother and at the mess and burst out into laughter before we hugged and cleaned up.
She made great sacrifices for us kids. When times were lean, she’d make sure we were fed and had new clothes first before herself. She’d do things she didn’t like to do for us. She let us have pets. She tolerated our music and fashion choices. She took us fishing even though she hated fish, that is, until I caught a tiger muskie that scared the daylights out of her. She decided we were old enough to take ourselves fishing after that incident. I remember, about a year ago, she told me she hated strawberry shortcake. I said, “But you always made it when I was kid.” She just gave me a look that said I was being silly and replied, “That’s because you kids loved it.”
She made almost all of my Halloween costumes. She made my high school prom dress. She made my wedding dress and helped me plan and coordinate the wedding and walked me down the aisle. She was there to witness the birth of my son. She was there for me when the marriage didn’t work out. She was there when I decided to go to college and was beaming with pride when I got my degree. She supported me in my relationship with my new fiancee and gave me advice with my two new kids. She treated my stepdaughters like they were her own grandchildren. As a child she was there when I needed my mommy. As a woman she was there when I needed a friend…and my mommy.
She took so much pride in us kids that she talked about us to her friends and coworkers so much that we were all recognized on sight. I’m still striving to live up to that pride. Every good thing I’ve done and will do is because of her.
Karen will be missed by many adults and children alike. The world has lost a great daughter, wife, mother, and teacher. Heaven has gained a great treasure.