That Volkswagon bus picture is easily one of my favorite snapshots of Mom. She was so cute and stylish and upbeat. I love her shoes and purse that match her romper. And we were probably camping! I think of her often, but especially today on what would have been her 84th birthday. My wedding anniversary is also today and when Dan and I settled on the date I worried momentarily that Mom might feel her birthday was hijacked by our big day. But nope, she didn’t care. She was like that…she thought of others first, and herself second.
Today to remember mom, I’ll share excerpts of thoughts I gave at her funeral last August:
“Mom enjoyed many simple pleasures throughout her life. …She read books like mad, became obsessed with certain crafts like pinecone wreathes or ribbon embroidery and collected state quarters for the grandkids. She loved to go dancing and out to dinner with Dad. If asked to make a song request, invariably it was La Bamba…She enjoyed travel and especially looked forward to trips to Ohio to see her brother Jim and the rest of the Pattersons…She liked a good souvenir shop and never passed up a Snickers bar from a gas station candy machine or orange slices from the Dollar Store. After Dad retired, they escaped on many extended getaways, including a 10-week trip to Alaska and winters in Texas, trips to Colorado. Although Mom sometimes complained, “How much longer?” she loved riding shotgun in the Winnebago that Dan affectionately called the Radisson-on-Wheels.
Mom loved to help. Some kids have a paper route but we Anderson kids had an egg route when were young. Mom took us once a week to the egg farm to pick up boxes of eggs that we later delivered to friends and neighbors. When Mom realized the farmer’s wife, a young Polish immigrant, was having difficulty learning English, she gathered reading worksheets and arrived early on egg days to tutor her. She chatted it up about kids and happenings and took her shopping. Who better to learn to speak English from than our mom? When Mom worked at the school, if a kiddo on the playground didn’t have mittens or a hat, she stopped at K-mart and got some. If a neighbor needed a ride somewhere or there was a call to help at church or the library, she was there.
She valued children. One of Mom’s favorite things to do was spend time with children, especially her grandkids and nieces and nephews and their children. She knew how to make kids feel special. She cooked favorite foods, planned back-to-school shopping trips and other fun outings like going to see an ice show or musical.
Mom enjoyed many wonderful friendships throughout her life. Her pals from girlhood – Rebecca, Marjorie, Donna, Mary Ann, Jean plus more – were like characters in a novel that Mom brought to life. There were stories about candy striping, going to Jim-Chuck’s for a coke, baton twirling at football games. She kept in touch nearly her entire life with Rebecca from Florida…She cried when her friend Virginia became ill with cancer and pitched in for meals, cleaning and helped with her daughters, Cheryl and Cathy. Years later she built a real friendship with their stepmom, Mary. She found a “sister-friend” in Joyce…they stopped off at each other’s homes to swap books, check out a new blouse or see photos from family gatherings. Carla, her close friend since school carpool days, wrote Mom a cheery, newsy letter almost every week during her last two years. Mom effortlessly and naturally drew people close, in good and bad times.
Happy Birthday, Mom!