This was a hard one. I started writing about my mom, and before I knew it, I had three full pages in Word. Too long for a good blog post. How to narrow it down… I wanted to tell you a funny/ heartwarming/ frightening story about my mom. But it was hard to think of one. If you asked me for stories about my dad, we would be here all day and all night. Everyone has stories about my dad. He was larger than life. He was bold. He was charismatic. My mom, on the other hand, is more complicated. Her life, far from being uninteresting, is quite fascinating. But she has always managed to reflect admiration and attention onto those around her, choosing instead to go through life being quietly impressive. So rather than one or two “signature stories,” there are thousands of small instances of service, humor and creativity.
My mom did not object to us kids having fun at her expense. A certain stuffed and upholstered sheep comes to mind. It was the kind that you use as home décor. Some fleece, some upholstery fabric…baa baa baaaaa. I can’t take any credit for this since it was after I left for college…except maybe indirectly, since I set the tone for evil genius before I left home. Paul and Wendy, who were in high school at the time, confided in my mother that that poor misguided sheep had suicidal tendencies, and that she should watch him more carefully. And then over the next months, my mom would find the sheep in escalating suicide attempts. It hung itself. It tried to freeze to death next to the ice cream in my mom’s freezer. Poor sheep. Poor mom.
Having a cheerful, positive attitude is important to my mom. She expected us, as kids, to be cheerful. She didn’t like whining or complaining, and boredom was simply inexcusable, since if we expressed boredom, she had plenty of chores to help occupy our time. She tried to always be cheerful and uncomplaining herself, and she is one of the most optimistic people I know. Now, she didn’t always succeed in this, particularly around the holidays, when things would become stressful. Now that I have a big family, and holiday gatherings are my responsibility, I can understand this quite well. My sister Shawn said, “I remember how she use to slam the cupboards and get very harried when company was coming or she was in a hurry to get things done in the kitchen (I do this too..thanks mom).” I think the classic story about this was the time that Wendy broke her arm while riding down a huge paved hill that we lived on in Yreka. Wendy, in tears, approached my mom, who was trying to prepare for a large family event, and told her that she was afraid her arm might be broken. My mom yelled at her, “Just wait until after the holidays, and we’ll take you in and have them cut it off!”
There are so many admirable qualities about my mom… if you will indulge, me, I just have to pick a few favorites. She is ladylike about language, and would never swear. She detests when people talk about bodily functions (I would give you some examples, but my mom would get mad). In principle, I agree with her here, however in practice, a houseful of teenage sons has probably turned me to the dark side. My sister Shawn says she remembers Mom always kneeling by her bed in prayer. Yes! That is one of my memories, too, since we saw her do it every single night. Lynne says that when she was a freshman in the small Mt. Shasta Ward, they didn’t have a seminary (early morning scripture class for high school students), and so Mom volunteered to teach early morning seminary, and did it every year until Lynn graduated. She said she never realized until later what a sacrifice that was. Of course, Mom also taught my seminary, and probably Wendy’s and Paul’s… and plenty of years when she had no children in the program. Heavens…she has probably taught seminary for 15 years.
Since my dad passed away in October, my mom has been in hot demand…teaching a parenting class, for which she had to be certified by Social Services, a marriage class and a teacher development class. She works as a clerk in the temple, and in the Family History Library. We have been trying to get her to visit us for some months, but it seems her talents and services are so sought after that we have had to plan a ways ahead. Her usefulness… how she has developed her talents… these things she learned from her mother. But I believe that she has taken them to a whole new level. She is simply amazing. I love you, Mom!