Saturday, January 10, 2009

An Extraordinary Mom

I am planning on blogging about my whole experience with my mom's illness and death sometime within the next few weeks, but I don't have the energy to do it now. I did want to share what I wrote for her memorial service, and what my sister so beautifully read, so here it is.

I'm trying to get back to you all personally, but I just wanted to say thank you so much for the beautiful support -- everyone who wrote on my wall or sent me a message, wrote on my mom's guestbook, came to the services or sent me cards. One thing that is keeping me going right now is knowing I have so many wonderful friends and family members who are there for me. Thank you so much.


How do I pay tribute to the person I loved the most? How do I describe someone whose life was so woven wth mine? How can I talk about such a wonderful mother who was also my best friend?

I can tell you her favorite color was purple, she loved the movie Remember the Titans and she was a lifelong General Hospital watcher. She was one of the only people I know who hated the beach—she wasn’t a big fan of sand. She had a sweet tooth and she loved listening to oldies music and current pop music, including boy bands. And who can forget her infamous holiday sweaters and earrings?

But I believe what I’ll always remember about my mom is the kind of person she was. She was a joyful woman who loved others wholeheartedly. My mother was definetly a people person and she loved chatting for hours to her closest friends. She preferred a night in talking around our kitchen table with her girlfriends to a night out.

She was vibrant and lively, and had the spirit of a younger woman but the maturity and wisdom for someone her age. When I was in high school, I used to tease her that she was a 16-year-old trapped in a 40something’s body, because she enjoyed working at a high school just as much as I liked being a student there. She loved working in schools and being with students, and who had more Northampton spirit than my mom did? She owned more black and orange than any other person I know, besides maybe my sister.

I’ll always remember the sound of my mom’s laugh. It was a distinctive, cute little giggle that earned her, along with Robin Schultz, the nicknames of Betty and Wilma. And I’ll always remember the warmth and strength of her hugs. No matter what I was going through, a hug from Mom always made things better.

I’ve never heard anyone say an unkind word about my mom, but what negative thing is there to say about her? She was nothing but sweet to everyone around her. She would bend over backwards for anyone, but there are three specific people she would go to the ends of the earth for: her kids.

So many people have told me, “Roma’s kids were her life.” And being one of her kids, of course I already knew that. Any time any of us were sick or had an injury, she wouldn’t leave our side and helped us to feel better. She was the first to suit up and go to battle for us if we needed a defender. And I can’t imagine how many miles she’s put on all her vehicles driving us to and from friends’ houses, shopping malls and sports fields.

She supported us in all our endeavors. She wouldn’t miss even one of Emily’s games. She was most definetly Em’s biggest fan, which is a hard title to hold, considering Emily played sports year-round. She got so into what Emily was doing that she held office as the president of the field hockey and basketball booster clubs.

No matter how stupid Emily and I thought it was, she bought Brandon every Pokemon nicknack imaginable. I know she would be supportive of his recent love of video making and would watch all of his videos with pride.

When I became a Backstreet Boys fanatic in 8th grade, Mom bought me everything BSB – hats, T-shirts, etc. She fell in love with their music as well, and every Friday on the way to school would be “Backstreet Friday” and we’d pop a BSB CD in and sing along.

When I was in elementary school and decided I wanted to be a writer, Mom steered me in the right direction. She read all my stories and became my editor as well. No one was more proud of me than she was. Without my mom’s encouragement and support, I’m not sure if I’d be a journalist today.

I’m lucky to be able to say my mom was more than just a mother to me – she was my best friend, too. No one knew more about me than she did, and I would confide in her about everything – school, crushes, my fears. Even throughout college, she would be my sounding board when I had to make big decisions… and she would even answer the phone when I’d call for the fifth time with a laundry question. She could always calm me down and consol me over a break-up, a bad grade or a fight with a friend.

We were so in tune with each other that, even though I haven’t been able to go to her for advice in almost two years, I feel that in most situations, I’d already know what she would have told me to do. There have even been times when I’d be driving in the car and hear a song and think, “Mom really likes this song.” Then I would realize it came out after she got sick and she never even heard it – I just knew so well what she liked.

The biggest compliment I’ve ever received is when people tell me they see a lot of qualities of my mother in me. Mom once said she thought all three of her kids were very loving and caring people – and that’s because you raised us to be that way, Mom. We learned how to be good people by looking at you and your interactions with others. You set an amazing example.

I know time will help us all heal from the pain of losing such a wonderful woman, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to listen to certain songs without crying and thinking of her, or if I’ll be able to see a Ford Escape while driving and not feel a flicker of hope and excitement that it’s my mom I’m passing on the road.

I may never understand why she had to be taken away from us at such a young age, but I do know I’d much rather have 23 years of an extraordinary mother than a lifetime of a mediocre mom.

Mom, thank you so much for all you’ve done for me and for loving me so much. I promise I’ll remember what you’ve taught me and I’ll live my life in a way that would make you proud. I love you forever, and thanks for being extraordinary. Rest in peace.

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