My dear mother Helen passed away yesterday. The picture here is from a painting my father had made sometime in the 1970’s. I think Mom hated it but it was a good portrait of her in her late 40’s/early 50’s. Despite her reservations about it, she let Dad hang it and it is still on the wall in their house. It reminds me of my Mom, strong, beautiful and vibrant.
Mom led a long, productive, solidly middle class American life. Born in the 1920’s she lived through the cataclysms of the depression and World War II before doing something unusual for a woman in her generation; graduating from Brenau College in 1950. Following her 1952 marriage to my father Paul she had three children whom she raised and pushed through school. After we all left home, Mom volunteered at her church several days each week. Her presence and dedication to Embry Hills UMC was so strong that people there started calling her St. Helen – in a admiring way. A woman of many talents, she hand made over 30 full sized quilts along with dozens and dozens of needlepoint and crocheted items.
Mom was a strong woman, she endured the loss of her father in 1963, the death of her only brother in 1973 and then cared for her mother who had Alzheimer’s throughout the 1970’s (before we knew what Alzheimer’s was). She also was a breast cancer survivor since 1977. After a broken hip in 2010, she struggled with her health continuously. When my brother died this past July, she said that when she died she would have some serious questions for him; I suspect he is trying to answer them right now!
Mom loved her family; her husband of 64 years, my sister, me, her in-laws, her grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, all of whom she leaves behind. She also loved Christmas. The day of her fall that eventually led to her death, she had happily spent the day dragging my Dad from store to store to find the perfect Christmas gifts for her great-grand children and some sorority friends that she was to meet today for lunch. Her house wasn’t decorated until all 100+ Byer’s Caroler’s were on display and the tree was up and lit. Mom, this Christmas is the first one in 91 years you will miss. The gifts you picked out are still neatly placed on the bed upstairs, waiting to be wrapped. We are all so very sad that you are gone.
It hasn’t been 24 hours since you died and I already miss you so much. I’m going to miss your stories, your fierce pride in your grand and great-grand children, I’ll even miss the many, many questions about your vast array of technology (iPhone, iPads, PC, Kindle, etc.) but most of all I just miss you. I know you now have peace and are free of the pain that your aging and failing body had given to you. I know you always loved me no matter what and I hope you know I always loved you. Rest In Peace.