Thursday, July 21, 2011

Courage

Connie and Bill Earl on their wedding day.
Last week I was given one of my most difficult writing assignments ever – no term paper, no essay, no thesis prepared me for the task of writing Mom’s obituary.

Dad’s instructions were simple – It had to have all the pertinent information about family and services and such – and not be too long.

Not too long?  With a family of 6 children and their families and children, her brother and sisters, Dad – it was already getting crowded with words.

But the words that would be tougher to find were those that summed up Mom as a person – not as mother, wife, sister, aunt, friend – but as Connie Earl.

At the time I wrote of her cakes, her garden, and the store – and of how around Mom strangers quickly became friends, and friends became like family.  Good words at the time – but I think I could have even written it with fewer.

Or with one.

Courage.

Mom had courage – and it showed in every stage of her life.*
 
*these may not be totally historically accurate – and I welcome my siblings and relatives to correct my memories of mom’s stories.

Courage to listen to her older brother about bees and flowers and plants – even though she got “stung” in more ways than one.

Courage to convince her father to let her go to college and study something other than nursing or teaching.

Courage to go to college over 300 miles and a total culture away from her metropolitan NY upbringing.

Courage to fall in love with Dad – who had a totally polar opposite upbringing to hers - and to convince her father (again - Grandpa was a tough cookie!)

Courage to move her growing family to follow Dad’s career changes – including one trip with 6 kids in one car from NY to Oklahoma to live for a summer in a two bedroom apartment, tornadoes and all.

Courage to have 6 children!

Courage to see the hard heavy clay soil of Alfred, NY and decide she could make it bloom.

Courage to uproot it all  and, instead of settling into retirement, starting anew – in a new community, a new garden, a new career, a new business.

And courage – in the face of cancer and surgery and chemo and radiation and more – to keep on going.




Until she could go no more.

I came home Monday after the week in South Carolina and spent some time walking around my garden.  Despite the heat and my absence, it was well watered by my neighbor and was thriving.

Except for one plant – a pumpkin born of seeds scattered from last year’s Jack-O-Lantern.  Something had decided it looked like a tasty lunch – and all its leaves had been eaten away – leaving nothing but the stem.

And lots and lots of flowers.

Courage.

Mom was that pumpkin vine -  flowering and sharing her beautiful spirit - even to the end.

Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.  ~C.S. Lewis


19 comments:

Anonymous said...

That's beautiful Regina....just knowing you as distantly as I do I can tell she was a very very special person. [[[[hugs]]]]
Amanda Dunn (EXPM)

Suzan said...

Lovely tribute to your mother. I am so sorry for your loss.

Moneik said...

What a lovely tribute to your mother. Having gone through the difficult journey of loosing my mother as well this year, I understand your pain and loss. Courage is so strong in women with cancer and our mothers fought the battle to the end. Keeping your family in my thoughts and prayers.

Colleen said...

Such a lovely tribute- the tears are flowing. Hugs, thoughts, and prayers for you and your family.

onesillymama said...

Regina, your words are simple and powerful. I can feel your love for her and hers for you and your family from what you wrote. Lots of hugs to you as you adjust to a world without your mom. Thank you for sharing this.

"Lois Grebowski" said...

Hugs, Regina. She'll still be there for you to talk to. I fin myself looking up and talking to my parents every now and then. Just know she's with you in spirit!

Anjeanette said...

Tears. I have no words but I do have tears and a heart full with your beautiful words describing your mother.

Sending you lots of love! Thanks for sharing.

Barb said...

I didn't know you were going to make me a puddle in the floor....what a sweet post and tribute to your mom.

Life in the Bubbie Zone said...

Beautiful! And your mom shared her courage and love with many.


Phyllis

Marj said...

Wow Regina, very powerful words, they brought tears to my eyes. Your Mother would be proud of the Woman and Mother you have become. I'm sorry for your loss, cherish all of your memories, they will get you through the hard times.
Hugs from Marj

Christine M said...

Lovely tribute to your mother. Sending you a hug. Christine

Susan C said...

Just when I thought I was almost done crying, you made me start all over again. This week has been harder than last because I'm not surrounded by our wonderful family. You summed Mom up so beautifully. She was one courageous woman, one I am proud to have called Mom and we will miss her every day of our lives. But she was equally proud of us and I am so glad we were able to give her that gift.
LYL MYM

Reenie said...

Big hugs, Regina. I am so sorry for your loss. I didn't know :(

jillquilts said...

Big hugs! I still wish that I would have had a chance to meet her. But I am so grateful to her for the daughters that she has raised. I know because of that that she was a fantastic person! I'm so sorry for your loss. Love you!!!!

Kristie said...

Oh Regina, I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. She sounds like she was a wonderful person. Such wonderful memories that you have of her.
Kristie

Barb said...

Regina, that was just beautiful and I know how difficult it must have been for you to write. I also bet I know just where you got the "courage" to do it. Big hugs to you

Anonymous said...

How lucky I am to have known her. I am so sorry that you all have lost her. I will never forget her grace & beauty. Love, Leslie

Linda and Piwacket said...

Regina,
I am so very sorry for your loss. Your words were a beautiful tribute to someone who sounds like a beautiful lady.
Linda

Jennifer said...

I have been holding this post in my reader for a week thinking I will have the right words to say how sorry I am for your loss and what a wonderful tribute to your mom. I hope you have many wonderful memories and see her in your own life! Thoughts with you and your family.