Be forewarned, this post is a tribute to my mom, Louise… It’s going to get personal and maybe a little sappy. Chances are, I will be tearing up as I write this.
So, today is Mother’s Day, a bittersweet day for me. Feeling blessed for the opportunity to be a mother, and grateful for all of the mother figures in my life; past, present and future. Sadly, my own mom passed away on September 4th, 2009 at the age of 58. She had a rare and aggressive form of sarcoma cancer. I miss her dearly, Mother’s Day is not the same without her.
If you ever met my mom, you would know that she was a spirited little red-head who wore her heart on her sleeve. She worked hard and never gave up on anything without a fight. With the same intensity for which she worked, she also knew how to have a good time, and was a lover of laughter. She was passionate about life and relationships. She also loved to entertain… Whether that meant serving a holiday feast, or singing and dancing in front of a crowd. She performed in theater when I was a kid, and was a cheerleader in high school… As you can tell, she was very outgoing and comfortable being center stage. She also had a lot to say, and I mean a lot… She was chatty, chatty… In fact, I found her report cards from elementary and high school and they all pretty much said, “talks too much in class.” Actually, now that I think of it, I also remember that she was voted class clown her senior year. She was spunky.
She had a few nicknames, too. Her friends from her youth called her, Carrot. Her family called her Weeze, Weezie, or Lou. Her husband, Rik, called her Poopie, or Red Power. My husband and kids called her Mommom Choo Choo, or Choo Choo for short. Our oldest son gave her that nickname when he was a toddler because she used to live near the train tracks in Philadelphia. My niece’s called her Mommom. Here’s a picture of her with my brother and I, our spouses and kids. My brother and family to the left of her, my family to the right. (One grand-daughter wasn’t born yet.)
Ok, now that you have a visual, here’s what else you need to know about my Mom. She loved her family. She was a patient Mom. She was my number one supporter. She had baby magic. She was about quality not quantity. She was resourceful. She was determined. She remembered e v e r y t h i n g and was a good storyteller. She was fun and funny. She was warm and kind-hearted. She was sympathetic and encouraging. She liked coffee and cigarettes. She drank beer and wine. She was a good cook. She was a great dancer. She did cartwheels at weddings and reunions. She was independent. She was good at sales. She was small but mighty. She had style and grace. She was beautiful and vibrant.
If you knew her, you’d know those things about her. What you might not have know about her, though, is that she was very creative and artistic. In 2000, my Mom moved to Holland to be with a man who would eventually become her husband. (My parents got divorced in 1983). While living abroad she was able to take art classes, mostly ceramics and painting. I don’t have all of her work, but I’d like to share a few of my favorites with you. The description will be under the photo.
After the birth of our second son in 2005, my Mom made this sculpture for me. It represents me with my first 2 sons. Then, after our 3rd son was born, she made the white one on the left. The stained one is about 10″ tall and the small one is about 4″. I love these pieces. I keep the white one my kitchen window sill and the tall one on her antique armoire from the 1800’s that she had shipped over here from Holland.
She made this sweet clay kitty that lives on my hearth.
This was one of the first paintings that she made in an “Intuitive” painting class. We ended up using this image on her memorial cards at her service. I think it’s very representative of her spirit flying towards the light…
This one is of the bridge and canal in Manayunk, Philadelphia where she used to live. 2003
If you were her friend or family member, you knew this place. Her home on Pensdale St. in Manayunk. This was a really special place for her because it was “her” home. The first and only home that she would ever buy solely by herself. That was a big deal and great source of pride for her. She truly loved this home and this little city on the outskirts of Philly. Although she was born a Jersey girl, my Mom loved Philly and Manayunk was up and coming in the late 80’s when she moved there. She made a lot of good friends there, some who still keep in touch with me… So grateful for that. I still drive by that house when we go back to visit. It looks the same and makes me miss her, but I’m reminded of all the good memories that we made there, too. And, she was right, Manayunk boomed into happening place! She painted the house in 2004.
I would have to say that this is my favorite. It represents her as a mother to my brother and me. I’m the little bundle on her back. I love the color and feeling that it gives me. For me, it represents her protecting and nurturing us. She painted this in 2008. I display it in our dining room.
I’d like to conclude this post with a video that my Mom and I enjoyed together a few months before we realized that she had cancer. It is a video that I shared with her via email. It so sweetly celebrates our female nature. You should watch it! It’s worth the 5 minutes I promise. And, chances are you will be teary and grateful by the end.
Please be sure to continue reading below the video…
I’d like to share my Mom’s email response to me… Keep in mind, she did not know that she was sick at the time. I came across this response a month after she passed away. I had forgotten all about it. It had a whole new meaning once she was gone.
That about says it all. Makes you want to call a friend you haven’t talked to, or someone who, for whatever reason, you stopped being friends with. The best love you can give is honesty and tolerance, and at the same time not be a doormat to those who will take advantage.
This is always how I think of you. Loving, kind, tolerant, but saying your truth and hoping people will love you back for that. And if they don’t, you will still be there to love and pray for them. I have always admired you, loving you is easy. Even when you disagree with me or get angry at me at that moment, I know in my heart you love me and you’ll also pray for me (after you pray for the strength to do that).
We always work to be better mothers, no matter how old. We try to be loving and hopefully pass some wisdom that we have learned to our children or grandchildren. And however we are, we hope that when we are gone you will sometimes laugh at the silly things that I have done, or that I am chatty, or share a story or two, maybe some sad and some happy. And most of all that we, me, remember that no one is perfect. I hope that you will say, in all my imperfection, that you will remember more of the good, for whatever it was, it also shaped who you are. Most important, that you remember how much I love you and the children, and how much you have changed my life – how rich it is.
I can honestly say that losing my Mom has been such a rollercoaster of emotions. I’m never prepared for when the sadness is going to hit me. One thing that I do know, in response to her email, is this… Life and relationships will have there ups and downs, but in the end, it IS the good memories that prevail if you let them. My Mom and I were very close, we always accepted each other for who we were. Sure, we had our moments of disagreements and frustrations, but they didn’t last. We enjoyed each other and showed genuine love for one another. I am thankful for the Mom that I had, she DID help to shape the person that I am… And today, I’m even more grateful for the good memories, and there are a lot…
So to that, I say “cheers!”