Thursday, November 1, 2012

We're Counting on You, Mom

Today would have been my dear mother-in-law's 80th birthday.  Mom died, very suddenly and quickly, on Holy Saturday in 2009.  She came into this world on the Feast of All Saints and left it the day before Easter, and I don't think that was by accident.

Mom was there, always there--a person who loomed so large in the hearts and minds of so many; then, in the blink of an eye, without any warning at all, she wasn't there anymore. And her death left a huge void in the family she left behind: four daughters and four sons; four daughters-in-law and four sons-in-law; sixteen granddaughters and sixteen grandsons. She did not live to see any of her grandchildren get married, so she's never met the twin great-granddaughters that were born to my son and his wife in 2011.  But we know she's watching over them, and over all of us.  And all I can say is, do your thing, Mom.  Pray us in!  You always seemed to have a direct line to the Big Guy Upstairs when it came to prayer--so we're counting on you.

Not a day goes by that each of Mom's eight children doesn't get the urge to pick up the phone and call her, as most of them did daily while she was alive.  They miss hearing her voice and her laugh; they miss talking  to the one person they knew was always interested in anything they had to report--whether it was exciting news about a special award one of their kids had won at school or merely some tiny bit of minutiae from their daily lives that no one else could possibly care about as much as she did.  It is often said of mothers that they live for their children.  Mom truly did live for her children.

I have been wondering how in the world to do my mother-in-law justice today--a job that's almost impossible for anyone.  Then I thought of the e-mail my husband's cousin (one of Mom's goddaughters, and an exceedingly special person in her own right!) sent to him and all of his siblings the other day.  No one could say it better than she did, so I'm going to reproduce that e-mail here:

"It's Make a Difference Day and...On the week before what would be your Mom's 80th birthday, I have 80 reasons why I loved her!  

1. Her smile; 2. Her warmth; 3-10. [the names of her eight children]; 11. Her singing ability; 12. Her deep and abiding faith in God; 13. Her love of family; 14. Her ability to make you feel like you were the MOST important person in the world; 15. Her laugh; 16. Her humor; 17. Her strength; 18. Her gift of gab; 19. Her Irish heritage that she loved to share; 20. Her stories; 21. Her ability to raise 8 happy, self-reliant, loving children; 22. Her teaching skill--it was innate; 23. Her ability to host a party at a last minute notice; 24. Opening her home to her extended family and friends often; 25. Her genuine interest in others' lives; 26. Her sense of adventure; 27. Her traveling to see her children; 28. Her LOVE of her Grandchildren; 29. Her ability to smooth over the bumps of life; 30. Her LOVE for her daughters- and sons-in-law; 31. Her LOVE for [her husband]; 32. Her sense of fair play; 33. Her ability to make a friend; 34. Her trust; 35. Her loyalty; 36. Her Mothering skills; 37. Her Godmothering skills; 38. Her love of a "good deal"; 39. Her sewing ability; 40. Her smocking ability; 41. Her love of fabric; 42. Her love of beautiful things; 43. Lenox; 44. Hummels; 45. Lladros; 46. Her beautiful linens; 47. Her decorating style; 48. Her selection as Queen at [the College of] St. Rose; 49. Her beautiful wedding gown; 50. Her beautiful calla lilies for her wedding bouquet; 51. Her willingness to share her wedding gown with her daughters; 52. AND her Granddaughters!; 53. Her devotion to Mary; 54. For asking me to place the centerpiece of my wedding flowers in front of Mary; 55. Her devotion to the rosary; 56. Her love of Lake Champlain; 57. Her love of the Adirondacks; 58. Her willingness to unwrap all of the Hershey kisses for your Dad on long trips; 59. Her strength even when your childhood home burned down; 60. Her ability to raise a tight knit family; 61. I wish I could vote for HER for President!; 62. For loving and singing with her brother [his name]; 63. For always knowing the "right" thing to say; 64. For singing Ave Maria at our wedding; 65. For taking on life as it came and celebrating all of the GOOD; 66. For always looking at the cup as half full; 67. Her delight in seeing her children succeed; 68. Her even greater delight in seeing her Grandchildren succeed; 69. For always remembering her roots; 70. For her open acceptance of all of us; 71. Her love of Notre Dame; 72. Her love of the Navy; 73. Her optimistic attitude towards life; 74. Her acceptance of God's plan for her; 75. Her love of movies and a good show; 76. Her remembering special lines and quotes of great movies; 77. Her Irish eyes...especially when they were smiling; 78. Her love of a good drink; 79. Her ability to live a sermon, not just speak about one...; 80. And finally, I love her because she made a huge DIFFERENCE in my life."

If you've never met my mother-in-law before, now you know her.
Mom as the Rose Queen, wearing the exquisite satin gown that would later become her wedding gown.
As my husband remarked upon receiving this e-mail, his cousin never even lived under the same roof with his mother, and yet she knew all this about her beloved aunt/godmother. That is the kind of impact Mom had on the lives of those she touched.  She was some woman.

Happy Birthday, Mom.  We sure do miss you around here!  (And don't forget to keep those prayers coming!)


  1. Wow ... what a beautiful tribute!

  2. All Saints Day is such a great "Grandma Day" for me; I just love remembering my amazing grandmother. We were all so truly blessed. I miss her so much. :) I love number 58! And I love number 58!

  3. Postscript: my husband just pointed out that Mom was in fact born in 1931--meaning that this would have been her 81st birthday. So I'm going to add my own "reason why I loved her" #81 to this wonderful list: For the way she would say "Hello, my darling!" when I called, and I could hear the smile in her voice (and as mentioned in #14 above, it always made me feel like I was the MOST important person in the world to her at that moment).

    Please, anyone who's reading this and knew Mom: tell me what your #81 would be!

  4. My #81 would be her excitement when we walked in the door after a long trip and her genuine sadness when we had to leave....I always hated leaving.