I know I should just wait, and post this tomorrow, but I’m thinking about it today. Tomorrow, January 18th, will be the third year since my mom has passed away. For someone who was only 4″11″ she was a giant. Her personality, and will, were much bigger than her actual height.
In her town of Seward, Alaska, she was the longest serving person in city council history. Her town, and civic duty, were important to her. She was tireless when it came to people and their needs. She was also tireless when it came to her family.
I read this letter at my mom’s memorial service.
I have been thinking about my memories growing up, and I’ve thought a lot about you. You have been the best mother I could ever ask for, and it has been difficult to enumerate how. You always said, “I’m your mom, not your friend.” When I was little, that was true. You weren’t my friend. You were the one who drilled manners into me, responsibility, made sure I played nice. As I got bigger though, you were my mom, and my friend. I could, and did, tell you everything.
I started thinking about the quilt I started making for you back when Owen was a baby. I think of each red, flowery square, and each one is a memory.
Do you remember when we were little, and Stewart, Wes, and I would fight over who could sit next to you on the couch? You finally set up a nightly rotation so we all got our time next to you.
I remember wanting to shave my legs so bad, and you said I had to wait until I was 13. And I waited. 13 could not get here quick enough. Finally, the day arrived, and I could shave my legs! You looked at me and said, “You think this is great today, and it might even still be cool next week, but after a while you are going to think it’s a nuisance and not want to do it.” I remember thinking that’s ridiculous, I’m never going to think that! But, as is often the case, you were right. To this day, I think of what you said every time I shave.
Remember when Grandma Shafer came to visit, and you guys taught me how to play pinochle? When she left we started playing over at Kathy Caroll’s, and pretty soon we were playing with all kinds of people. Those evenings, sitting at a table with you, and all your friends, are some of my fondest memories. I don’t play it often anymore, but pinochle is still my favorite card game.
Remember my last day of high school? You insisted on taking me, because you said, you had taken me to my very first day of school and you would take me to my last. You and Melody then drove me to college in Fairbanks that August. It was going pretty well, until we got there, and you left me alone in my dorm room for a bit to get unpacked. At that point it hit me I was leaving home. Frankly, it scared the hell out of me. It probably didn’t help my roommate had gotten there before we did, hung up a naked Barbie doll studded with nails, and left. We gave the Barbie doll a long look, and went to dinner. By the end of the next day, I had almost convinced myself college was not for me, and I sat on your lap in Melody’s van and cried, and you cried, and after a while we decided it would probably work out, and I should stay. You then did something you do so well. We were in the dorm elevator, getting ready to go to the store, when this young women gets in with us. You looked at her (and she must have had the same scared, lonely look I had), and you looked at me, and you said, “This is my daughter Stacy and this is her first day at UAF. What’s your name?” The young woman said, “Dolores. This is my first day too.” You invited her along with us to the store, and after that we started hanging out. I had my first friend at college.
You were there when my children were born. You cut their umbilical cords, held them in your arms when they were brand new to the world. You came home with us from the hospital, and stayed with us for a week to help us adjust to our growing family. I always knew I could call you when the kids did something that threw me for a loop.
I ask myself, who am I going to call during the day? I called you every day to say hi, ask how you were doing, to tell you the funniest thing the kids had done, to tell you any hurts. You always listened, laughed in all the right spots, and told me when I was being ridiculous. I want to call you when the kids are teenagers, and do something particularly ridiculous. We’ll reminisce, and you’ll tell me stories of things you and dad did, and scrapes Stewart and Wesley got into. We’ll laugh, and agree whatever had happened isn’t such a big deal.
Like a quilt with a certain number of squares, I only have a certain number of memories. Each memory I have is as rich and varied as each red square. I can pull each one out when I need to, and hold it in my heart, and you will be there. Like all things, you always hope for more time, more memories, but I am happy with the ones I have.