Thursday, November 5, 2009

Remembering Mom

We are sad to announce that our mom, Pam, passed away on Friday morning.

I've been thinking about her a lot this week and wanted to share a few memories.

There is a joke in our family about our mother's green bean casserole--one of us will have to make it and post the recipe and step-by-step photo journal to give you the full impact of its non-yumminess. It definitely wasn't our favorite meal, but it was apparently her favorite one to make, because it seemed like we ate it on a pretty regular basis. We teased her a lot about that casserole over the years. But we didn't always say enough about her other gifts.

Her strength, her compassion, her love.

Now that I'm a mother, I realize how hard it is to raise kids. You try your hardest and hope for the best. I can only imagine how trying it must have been with four girls. The hormones alone in that house would have been enough to send anyone over the edge.

Our mom was the kind of mom who let us bring home a menagerie: the number of hamsters--"Look, Mom! We found him in the garden!" (while hiding the Pamida receipt and the box it came in). Birds, fish, cats, puppies, rabbits, and especially the golden retriever puppy that Trudy dragged home. ("We HAVE to keep her or they'll put her to sleep!!) Mom had a soft spot for Champ--for all of them: Pokey, Buster, Boo, Snickers.

She was the kind of mom who let her kids build a crazy-big treehouse in the backyard. (Thank goodness, she never knew about all of the Mooseheads ingested inside of it.)

I never took the time to say thank you for all of the parent-teacher conferences, piano recitals, or (geek alert!) swing choir concerts she attended.

The last few years were pretty hard on our mom. She felt things deeply. She grieved along with her loved ones every time they experienced a loss. After Jenny, Sarah, and our Dad died, she had a pretty tough time and there wasn't much any of us could do to help ease her pain.

I like to think about the things that did make her happy, the things she loved. She talked a lot about her trip to the redwoods when she visited her friend Sharon and she seemed breathless when she and Trudy came to Yosemite with me in California. Although that may have been the altitude.

I think about how in her fifties, she started over again, how Trudy and Mardell coaxed her into trying new adventures--water aerobics or painting "The Bob Ross Way", becoming a classroom-grandparent.

How through all of the tragedies, she also got to experience the miracles--seeing Jenny's son, Kel, grow into a young man, or Katie's girls Krista and Dani win ribbons at the fair. She got to share in our newest little miracle, coming our way this spring.

I hope when people think of our mom, they think of some of the things she loved: trees and words (she was a killer scrabble player--knew every two letter word in the English language.) Her love of Indian casinos and hot tubs, her ferocious allegiance to Pepsi products. . .

I'm grateful to my sisters and Aunt Sue for looking out for her and taking care of her. The last month or so, seemed like some of mom's happiest. She was facebooking and baking cookies, trying out new recipes. So well cared for, Trudy--thank you.

So, even if we never pass down that old recipe for green bean casserole, I hope we carry on her legacy of compassion and strength, and love.


Traci said...

I just want to add that Pam never once screamed at Trudy and I for flying off of the back porch roof, onto the trampoline, in order to get better altitude. Like it was so very necessary to jump higher than the power lines...also in the backyard. There are a multitude of stories that go with your backyard and I am sure that Pam is now aware of all of them, whether she is laughing or simply saying, "I cannot believe you did that. When did you kids to that?" She was incredible at turning her eyes away from some things that allowed us to be kids. Even if we were defying our own mortality, I have some of my best memories that center in that backyard.

I do not remember the green bean cassarole, but Trudy has through the years talked about some tomato recipe that Pam made that did not set well with her. I would love to hear that story again. Pam would always say, "I loved that!" To which Trudy would simply stick her finger in her throat and proceed to make horrid gagging sounds.

Pam will be missed, but she will also always be remembered. I am so very proud of Trudy and Mardell for giving Pam a sense of belonging and being needed in her last months on this earth. I truly am sorry that all of you are having to experience the pain of losing your Mom and Grandma.

Mary said...

What wonderful words Nikki! Brought tears to my eyes! My kids both have memories of Grandma Pam that will be dear to them forever! Thank you to you and your family for including us into your fold! She brought so much to my mom and Trudy's home over the past few months! RIP are missed.

Ruth said...

Pam was my best friend these past 7 or 8 years, and she NEVER once made me feel like she didn't have time to listen to me drone on about my problems or issues. She always told me to call anytime, day or night, and she would be willing to listen. Pam was the best listening ear anyone could have. She was also my best partner in the casino! I'm sure she'll be leaning over my shoulder, telling me to "push the biggest bet" and "go for broke"!!! I will miss her fiercely, but I will hold her dearly in my heart and remember all the good times we did have.

Jaala said...

Very, very touching! My heart goes out to each of you. Mothers - so dear and precious to us! And they have such a ripple effect....Shaylee drew a heart around G'ma Pam's picture on the memorial and wrote, "I loved you and your help."

Erica said...

Very beautifully written, and very moving. I lost my mom in 1997, was with her when she left us, and still find it hard to process that she's gone. Happily, we don't really have to thank our moms as thoroughly as we wish we could because they already knew... they had mothers, too. You're all in my prayers.

Trudy (aka Sister One) said...

It's so nice to read all of the comments and stories about Mom. She would have enjoyed them immensely.

Mom often drove me crazy (I know, it's a short trip), but she was always supportive of everything I did and was right there helping me out. I was fortunate that she moved over here and was able to help whenever I needed it.

When we had the store, she worked many, many long hours. She was a natural with the customers and could talk to anyone as though she had known them for years. We often teased her about her long-winded conversations with complete strangers. She would know their life stories when she was done .... right down to their blood type! When I finally came to my senses and returned to teaching, she was right there helping me out. In addition to being the classroom grandma, she checked papers, processed books, helped research topics, and did anything and everything that I asked her to do. Even after she no longer was in the classroom, she would ask about the students. She may not have ever laid eyes on some of them, but she knew them intimately and would inquire about them.

We shared a love of books. Our favorite author was Patricia Cornwall. I just ordered the latest Scarpetta book and I can't imagine not having her to talk about it after we finish reading it.

We also traveled some together. We went to Yankton to see Grandma, hitting those Indian casinos along the way. We also flew to California together. As we were getting ready to depart, I asked her if she had any final words. I hadn't realized how anxious and apprehensive she was about the flight until she told me that she loved me and that she was extremely proud of me. Then she asked if I was worried too.

No, Harry Potter had been released that morning and I had purchased a copy at the news stand in the airport and I didn't want to be interrupted.

The past three months were truly a gift. We had never gotten along as well as we did during this time. It was like she had always lived with us --- there really wasn't any adjustment period.

Good-bye Mom. I'm going to miss you.

SisterTwo said...

I have cried many tears this week. Again I'm reaching for the tissues as I read everyone's stories. I want to thank everyone again for all their support.

Sue said...

I look at the pictures on the shelf in my office - Mother and Daddy, Pam, Jon, Roger, and Todd. I am feeling very sad and shedding many tears and wish my grandmother was here to comfort me. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have wanted to call Pam this week - there was so much to tell her!

Sharon said...

I was so moved by all the words I read from everyone, particularly the three daughters. Your mother was so proud of all of you. She was such a good friend. I could have talked with her forever. We had so many good memories ~ even when things were sad, we made good memories! I will miss my good friend. ~~Sharon