Today we celebrate the life of a smart, classy, lovely lady–my Mom–who passed away earlier this month at age 91. My Dad gave me my love of the outdoors, taking me fishing and bird watching as a kid…he fed my soul. Mom nourished my mind and fascination with science and nature, making sure I had the books to explore my curiosity–like the giant Audubon bird guide that she surprised me with on my 10th birthday. It’s still one of my treasured possessions over five decades later.
She did that for all her four children while raising and advocating for my sister Susan who had cerebral palsy. In an era when kids with disabilities were often shipped off to state institutions for education, Mom made sure Susan was “mainstreamed” in local schools before anyone knew that term. Susan graduated with a Masters Degree and went on to a career in vocational rehabilitation counseling, a shining example of possibilities for other handicapped people. Then when most people start to kick back, Mom, who was married the day after she graduated from high school, went to college at age 50 and got her nursing degree. She had a fulfilling career as an RN for almost 20 years.
Mom was sharp as a tack till the end, loving me to read the paper to her during our visits and talk about politics and world events. When we watched old Judy Garland movies from the 40s together this past summer, she not only knew who all the actresses and actors were, but who they married, whether they were still alive, and other details of their lives.
We will miss you Mom, but know you are happy to be reunited with Susan. Thanks for being such a wonderful mother!