An entire year has gone by since my mom passed away or as I try to remind myself ‘moved to heaven’. We have a reassurance in Christ of seeing her again, but as life has gone on, filled with milestones, I’ve struggled with the fact my mom has missed every single one. Two Graduations. Spring concerts. Wedding. Milestone Birthdays. First grandchild to college. Trips. Reunions.
I keep wondering how one deals with this type of anniversary? It’s not really something to celebrate. I want to be sensitive to my family, but, honestly, sitting and staring out a window is the most appealing; which for some reason, immediately makes me think of my mother rolling her eyes and saying ‘oh brother!’. And that makes me laugh. You have to have known my mother to understand. Sweet, kind, compassionate, and bossy and no nonsense. She was a doer. DAV volunteer, Veterans Advocate, Fundraiser, Church Food Pantry, Reading Specialist. She adored young people and Veterans.
Looking back, the events of That Week are a blur of pain lined with a dawning realization there was a lot more to my mom than the person I thought I knew. One thing became crystal clear; my mom’s life had a greater impact than I ever suspected. Her life was indeed ‘a life well-lived’.
Friends, neighbors and family crowded my mom’s memorial service and funeral. As they sought to speak words of comfort, each conversation began to take on a similar tone, “When I was. . . in school, put my mom in a care unit, moved to a new city, lost my job, struggled with depression, lost my spouse, was in cancer treatment . . . your mom sent me a card every week, every birthday, holiday. Your mom is why. . . . I graduated, kept going, am here today. Your mom told me I mattered. She prayed with me. She said I’d succeed when everyone around me said I’d fail. She told me mistakes don’t define you and I was loved no matter past choices. Your mom sent a gift card . . . for diapers, groceries, date night, the electric bill. By the end of the week, I had lost count of how many had shared what my mom had meant in their life. One thing was obvious; she had spent her time investing in the most valuable commodity – people.
One of the sweetest moments for me occurred during her visitation service. In the middle of greeting others, my brothers and I noticed two young women whom we didn’t know, slip quietly in to pay their respects. It was later that evening, after reading the guestbook, we realized they worked at the Sonic near my parents’ house.
Now, if you ever had the privilege of meeting my mom, you’d quickly discover her ‘addiction’ to Sonic ice tea. We loved to tease her mercilessly about her favorite accessory; a Route 44 Sonic cup. Mom went to Sonic so often, she knew the workers by name and their life stories. They would save free drink coupons for her and even take a tea out to the car before she finished parking. Mom fretted over their life situations and constantly tipped far beyond the cost of the tea. I only discovered this after she sharply reprimanded me the one time I forgot the tip! The day before mom’s service, my dad stopped by Sonic to tell them what had happened. As they stood at the drive thru window, the crew tearfully shared how mom had encouraged and blessed their lives.
Today, when I drive by a Sonic, those two young women come instantly to mind and the impact my mom’s life had on them. I find it comforting in the midst of missing her. I’m not exactly sure how the actual day will play out but I do know, instead of dwelling on the life we now live without her, I want to choose to be thankful to God for her example and make this the first anniversary of a life very well-lived.
Love you mom.
“But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:3-4