Last night my mom passed away. My mom and the mother of my three older sisters. My mom and my dad’s wife of 57 years. My mom and my daughter’s beloved grandma. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about 17 years ago and it has been a long journey watching my extremely talented artist mother retreat into a child-like state. But it is before the last down turn that I will remember her for and a few of these memories I will share with you today.
My mother was a born artist though it was later in life she fully discovered her talent. As a little girl, she was my queen of DIY, sewing our clothes, growing, making and canning our food and creating a beautiful home often with little to work with. My mother could “make a silk purse from a pigs ear” and yup, she passed that gift onto me. When I was in high school, mom decided she was going to make a stained glass window for the front of the church. Oh, did I mention that it was about 150 feet tall and that she had never worked with stained glass before? Needless to say, she created a stunning piece of art that still graces the church to this day. This is where we will be holding her memorial service. So much of her is still there.
One of my favorite memories is when I was a sophomore in college and my parents decided to join me full-time at art school. We were the art geeks, the over achievers and teacher’s pets. . . all three of us. We became known that year as “the family”, my dad working in sculpture, my mom in illustration and pottery and me as a graphic design student. The art in the collage above is my mother’s work from that era. My dad had been working on his degree part-time the years prior and this was his final undergrad year. For his senior show, we all three displayed our work as “the family”. It was a stunning show! My mother followed my dad to Texas where he received his MFA and she earned her BFA. She was in her late 40’s when she finished college. The apple farmer’s daughter who was raised to be a housewife was a straight A student. . . of course. After graduating she became an illustrator for a medical publication for the remainder of her pre-alz years. I love my mom for her bravery and for her tenacity.
My sweetest memories of my mother are when she became grandma to my daughter Emily. She has 11 grandchildren and she loved each and every one of them. My sister’s all had husbands to help raise their kids but I became a solo parent a few months after Emily was born. I moved from California to my home state to be close to my parents and both mom and dad immediately jumped in to help me raise her. Grandma was there for Emily’s first bath, she read to her every chance she had and taught Emily how to tie her shoes. (She also taught me how to tie the perfect bow). Grandma and Emily had a sweet love for one another, unlike anything I have seen. I am so thankful to you mom (and dad too) for helping me raise my precious daughter. She has turned out so lovely, you would be proud of her. I promise that I will treasure my grandchildren as you did yours.
Mom, you were an angel in my life. . . in Emily’s life. You have inspired and blessed me in so many ways. I will miss you deeply and I will hold your bright, creative and generous light to bless and inspire those around me. You are loved. ~ Lia