Friday, January 15, 2010

How Do You Measure the Value of a Life?

It's taken me a couple of weeks to write this post. It's difficult, but I just think it's so important to put down in writing how I feel about my Mom. She left us January 2. She was 71 years old. A life so short in years. But she managed to fill her life with enough love for many years to come. It's hard to measure the value of a life. In my opinion, a life well-lived is one in which you leave behind many people who love you. Because in order to have many people love you, you have to be a warm and loving person yourself. My mom was that warm and loving person. She married my Dad at the age of 19. They'd been high school sweethearts and were told, "It'll never last. You're too young." But it did. It lasted for 52 years. And my parents were just as much sweethearts at the end as they were at the beginning. My Dad would always call her beautiful. "Hi, Beautiful" he'd say, right up until the day she died. To make a marriage work for 52 years is a testament to the love they were both able to give each other day in and day out. Mom was a stay-at-home Mom when we were little. There were four of us. And she took good care of us. With a special mother's love. A tough love that would ensure we'd grow up to be decent human beings. She taught us to be strong and independent, to rely on ourselves and take responsibility for ourselves. She made us work hard in school, do chores at home, get jobs to support ourselves. And she made sure we had plenty of time to play and relax and enjoy our friends and our family. The four of us are fine, upstanding citizens....in good marriages with loving and attentive children..... a testament to her love and nurturing and caring. And she loved her extended family as well. As her sisters passed away one by one, she took on the role of "special aunt/surrogate Mom" for many of my cousins. She had lunch with them and kept in touch and became the Matriarch of the family. They all came to wish her goodbye at her memorial. Mom and Dad were involved in Square Dancing for over 30 years. They made many, many friends. We heard from a lot of them who sent their condolences when she died....commenting upon how much fun my Mom made their square-dance weekends and how they always enjoyed what a sweet lady she was. Despite the fact that Mom retired fairly early from her job, she stayed active in the community. She volunteered in her town's elementary school, as a substitute aide for the handicapped children. She went bowling every Tuesday with her sister, and then alone after her sister passed away. And she joined the local Curves, where she made friends with the owner and many of the ladies whom she met during her workout every day. They all supported her through her breast cancer, and held their own memorial for her after she died. All these lovely people sent beautiful cards or posted notes of condolence on the websites of the newspaper and the funeral home. Mom left her mark on this world. Not in any grand, showy way. But in her own quiet way of loving people. It's impossible to count all the people her love affected......the circle ripples out like a droplet on a pond. And it will continue. I hope and pray I can learn by her example and be the kind of woman she was. And my loving actions will affect another whole group of people, who in turn might share their love with someone else. I'm going to miss my Mom. I'll miss her wisdom, and her caring, her hospitality and her unconditional love for us all. I'll especially miss having her be a daily reminder to me of how a woman/wife/mother should be. We each got a tiny urn with some of her ashes. I'll place it as a keepsake in my house. I won't need it as a reminder. She'll always be with me in my heart.

4 comments:

heidilou said...

Beautiful post. You've made your mother proud.

Colleen said...

Oh, my heart is with you right now! Please know that I would give you a big hug as we share the loss of a special loved one - and they were about the same young age. Aren't we lucky to have had these wonderful people in our lives? Lucky us. Blessing to you and this wonderful tribute to you Mom :-)

Debbie said...

Karen, this was a beautiful post. You captured the love and admiration you feel for your mom. A very loving tribute to someone who must have been a very remarkable woman. I am so sorry for your loss.

Joan said...

hug hug hug. I'm sorry I've not been here sooner to know about your Mom. What a beautiful tribute you wrote, and I know she will be treasured in the hearts of her family for many many years to come. Hugs to the family. You are in my thoughts.