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Memories of Mom

Here’s the “As I See It” article I wrote that appeared on Mother’s Day 2005 in The Kansas City Star:

Remembering Lessons From Mom

This year I’ll face Mother’s Day for the first time without Mom, who died April 1 at 88.

She was never like anyone else’s mom. Though she always told me I was an accident, I knew I was loved. But I also learned the world didn’t revolve around me. Other lessons Mom taught me are also deeply ingrained:

“Be independent.” At 5 I walked to school and saw a mother with her son in tow, also headed for kindergarten. I thought, “My mother would never do that. I’m on my own now.” She said she never had “empty nest syndrome.”
“Don’t leave things to the last minute.” She had a running contest with a friend to finish Christmas shopping by Oct. 1. I was glad I followed her example and completed college in three years. If I hadn’t, Pop wouldn’t have lived to see me graduate.
“Don’t let yourself go.” She’d immediately cut back if she gained a few pounds. When I asked why she ate half a doughnut, she said it was because “I’ll only get half as fat.”
“Good health is everything.” She ensured my sister, brother and I got regular checkups. At 77 when she learned she had cancer and needed to have her leg amputated below the knee to “buy time,” she didn’t hesitate. She “bought” nearly 12 years.
“Don’t spend everything you make.” When I left Hallmark, Mom pushed me to roll over my profit-sharing money into an IRA. It will someday help fund my retirement.
“Write thank-yous.” Mom sat us down to write notes right after Christmas. Learning that lesson helped me get at least one job, at Kansas City Power & Light, which led to meeting my husband Larry. I thank her for that training.
“Have a good time.” Mom said that when she died, people would say she had a good time. As a teen-ager, I thought that seemed shallow, but now it makes more sense. Sure enough, one of her longtime friends said at the funeral, “We had a lot of laughs.” So perhaps it’s fitting that Mom died on April Fool’s Day.
“Life is for the living.” When Pop died on the golf course at 58, I knew Mom would remarry. Later she reported that a man had visited “to pay his respects to the lonely widow.” I was matron of honor at her wedding 10 months after my dad died. She was married 33 years to my dad and nearly 30 to my stepfather when he died. Mom said that people who disapproved of her remarriage had probably been unhappily wed.

So through the tears, I’m reminding myself, “Life is for the living.” I’ll always miss Mom, but will remember, “We had a lot of laughs.”

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