I have a wonderful mother. She no longer lives in the same sphere as I do, and I miss her, but there is no doubt in my mind that she is happier where she is. She would have been 89 this year and she would not have enjoyed it. Still, had she lived a few more years, I would have appreciated it. Of course I would have; she took incredible care of me and I probably took advantage of the fact, youngest child and only daughter that I am.
Some of my favorite memories:
When we went to baseball games to watch Larry, she would draw pictures for me. I realize now that she was very talented. I wish I had some of those pictures now.
She would wash my hair by putting the ironing board up next to the kitchen sink and letting me lie on it while she washed my hair. Just when I was little. Later I would bend over and put my head in the sink. She always made my hair look cute even though I complained constantly when she combed out tangles.
She rubbed my back. I wouldn't be surprised if she did it every night. I loved it.
She won a "Make it With Wool" contest in 4-H when she was 16. She won the state contest and got to go to Chicago. She told me once she was never proud of the honor because it wasn't perfect and her mother tore some of the stitches out and put them back in. I don't know what the reality is, but I'm sure my mom did 99% of the work and deserved the prize. But she didn't think she did and didn't enjoy sewing in her adulthood. She made clothes for herself, though and I think she knew how talented she was. She made the most amazing doll clothes for my Barbies. I still have those. For a woman who said she hated to sew, it's incredible to see the little tiny zippers and buttons on pants and shirts and sequins on formal dresses. She later made cabbage patch clothes for her grandchildren's cabbage patch dolls. She also made dance costumes for me every year while I was in elementary school, awesome bedspreads and curtains for our bedrooms, clothes for me in elementary school and junior high (she was probably relieved when I could wear the sizes Ropers carried). She made a quilt for me when I got married, the tablecloths for my wedding reception, and a Temple dress for me to wear even though she didn't have a Temple recommend. (She does now!) She made bridesmaid dresses for me when my friends got married, maternity clothes when I was pregnant and the cutest 'jams' ever for my children when those wild knee length shorts were popular. She made quiet books for grandchildren to play with in Church. I'm forgetting everything she sewed for us, and I don't remember hearing her complain, but I'm old enough now, finally, to realize how much work everything was. To do something you don't love to make other people happy is a characteristic that my mother demonstrated very often.
She worked for an unkind boss so my brothers and I could go to college and have material comforts my father and she never had. The week after I gradulated from college, we went to the bank and she paid my entire student loan for me. This is when my father was dying from cancer and she could have saved the money for herself and the future.
I never saw her happier than when her grandchildren started arriving. Since I was her closest confidant by then, I heard everything she said about them. "Risa is so petite and cute! Ryan looks just like Larry!" When they got older, "Janessa is so beautiful! Justin reminds me of me--he's shy and sweet!" "Bryn plays the violin now--she's amazing! Oh, I love David's curly blond hair--he's just like his dad when he was that age." Amanda and Andrea were perfect--she loved it when they visited her when she moved to Boise--"They are so cute! Amanda is like you were--chatty and full of life. Andrea is quieter!" Well, she was then! She loved hearing all of them play their instruments--none of her own children were musical, so she was so proud of her grandchildren who were. She loved my children and much as I did and because essential to me as I stayed in a difficult marriage. She took us on car trips to see their cousins. She did Christmas shopping with me, she attended all of their sports events so I didn't have to go alone.
She was my best friend even though I was more like my father. I told jokes and read while I ate breakfast, lunch and dinner. Maybe I was a comfort after my dad died at 53 years old. She was definitely a comfort to me as I navigated through raising children on my own. I wasn't able to be the mother she was to me in all ways, but I'm doing my best to be the kind of grandmother she was.
Love you Mom! I know when your spirit hovers near me and am eager to spend time with you again.