My mother, Violet, passed away in May of 2003. She died peacefully in her home, sitting at her computer winning a game of Hearts. She is buried in Kenosha, Wisconsin. She shares the plot with her Father and Mother. There was a service in Phoenix, where she last lived.
Mom left a part of herself behind in everybody she had contact with over the years. She set examples for her co-workers of strong work ethics, being a hard worker, and doing the job properly. She demonstrated strong moral values such as respect of others and knowing the difference between right and wrong. She showed her love for the welfare of others throughout her career as a registered nurse with a genuine desire to help people with physical and mental problems.
She also left a part of herself in nature too. She loved flowers and other plants and made sure to care for those which she planted. They were "living things .... just like people, only better!" In Phoenix, she planted a freshly cut palm tree frond in the ground. In spite of several skeptical people laughing at that, the little frond was a ten foot tall tree when she died! But she also loved being in the wilderness to take in some of the wonderful things that God has provided naturally.
Mom also loved God's creatures and creations. She has cared for many pets over the years, mostly being abandoned animals that "adopted her" as their parent. She truly enjoyed watching animals and birds, with hummingbirds being her favorite. She loved watching the many birds which she fed in the yard, (especially "her" two hummingbirds!). She would give reports on the activities of these birds along with nest building and bird offspring updates. Bird friendly flowers were planted and several feeding stations were maintained.
Mom and Lady (her dog) would frequently travel to some local mountain parks where Lady could run and mom could watch birds and other wildlife. Everything from chipmunks to rabbits were a highlight to the days outing.
In addition to wildlife, mom would watch hot air balloons whenever they were in season. She liked the graceful flight of these as they drifted across the sky. Even being afraid of heights, mom had always wanted to ride in a hot air balloon.
Other hobbies included staying sharp at crosswords and jigsaw puzzles, playing Scrabble and other board games, organizing items around the house, and caring for her cats and dog. Her dog Lady went with her wherever possible and enjoyed runs in the park and desert. Mom and Terry met for breakfast regularly, usually at a place called Alexi's, where she was obviously well liked and will be missed. She liked to play Pinochle with me and her brother Tom and family who also live in Phoenix.
As a parent, mom believed in strong family values and the best interest of her children. Family vacations were frequent, including many short weekend trips to zoos, museums, parks, and campgrounds. Longer vacations included multiple state journeys that involved many places to visit. Some of these included visiting relatives or friends that had moved away.
On one of these trips, we were able to attend a live reenactment of the movie "Oklahoma!" performed at an outdoor theater near Oklahoma City. This was one of moms favorite movies and we both really enjoyed the performance. We didn't know this was available until during our trip.
Moms' career choice was being a registered nurse, which she performed for many years. She had an outstanding reputation with both patients and her coworkers as being a knowledgeable and caring person. She used some of that training to care for her own aging mother for several years.
Mom also performed many other jobs during her working years. While married, mom and dad ran a successful small resort by a lake. Between customers, mom performed housewife duties and spent much time with her two sons. She also worked at a bottle factory for awhile to supplement the family income.
Mom really loved children and knew that they inherit the world that we leave them. She drove the Head Start bus (a preschool) and volunteered several hours as a classroom assistant there. Mom had a strong desire to help children. She was responsible for building a childrens church group called GYP's (Gods Young People), which resulted in tripling attendance of kids in that church. She would buy toys and food for neighborhood kids in need. Mom raised her own two children mostly as a single parent, passing on her strong moral values and beliefs. She dearly loved her now five grandchildren who were the subject of most of her thoughts and comments in her last years.
Mom also worked for a Dominoes Pizza branch, where she was involved with pizza making and delivery. For a short time, I also worked at the same place taking phone orders and assisting in pizza making. Sometimes we would work overlapping shifts and it was common to hand a freshly boxed pizza (which I helped make) off to my mom for delivery.
More recently, mom worked at a Circle K convenience store. She started as a clerk, but quickly became store manager. She enjoyed contact with both customers and coworkers. Vendors made mention of the difference in the store with a caring manager.
I will always miss my mom, but there is a great comfort in knowing she lived a full life. I cherish the memories of the many good times and family outings that made my childhood a very enjoyable event.
As many of you know, mom passed away at her computer while being ahead in a game of hearts. I am happy to know that my mom spent her last moments here doing something that she liked. And best of all, she left as a winner! Mom believed that if a person lives a good life here on earth, they go to "a better place". I believe with all of my heart that she is at that place now! I hope and pray that I can carry on the examples that mom left behind and someday will get to join her in that better place. This is the challenge to each of us here and it is truly the greatest gift that we could leave behind also.