|Connie and Bill Earl on their wedding day.|
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.
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.
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