Oct 22, 1939 – Aug 29, 2010
Cathy, Mike, and Karen's celebration of their mother's life.
September 7, 2010)
This past week we’ve
been saying that there just aren’t enough positive words to
describe our mom. And it’s true. She was amazing. We did
find one word we can all agree on – that does describe her
perfectly: IRREPLACEABLE. There is no one like her.
She was a wonderful
mother and friend to so many. She was also an author – but
what she really was - was a story teller. She told happy
stories about her family.
We think she would have
wanted us to tell her story – but we know we could never
tell it as good as she would. But, she wouldn’t want that.
She would want us to tell it our way – to at least try.
(although, she would have loved to review and edit it …)
But - this is the
saddest story ever written. It’s the story of a wife, a
mom, a sister, an aunt, a grandma and gma who was loved so
much. And she should still be with us. Here. Now.
This story would be a
book – a very big book. And this book would be a
best-seller. We’re all familiar with specific chapters in
this book. But, let’s start from the beginning – we should
all know the story from the start…
There would be the first
chapter about when she was born, in Vancouver, Canada. A
second one about her life there with her sister Lynn. The
third would be when she and our Grandma moved to
California. The 4th and 5th would be
growing up and going to college. Chapter 6 would be her
life at Cal and all the good friends she made there.
Chapter 7 would be all about our Dad – it would be an
interesting chapter – with many, many pages.
Chapters 8, 9 and 10
would be titled “Karen”, “Cathy” and “Michael” – in that
Chapter 11 would be all
about their lives together in Berkeley, San Jose, Kansas and
Foster City. It would be a full chapter about all the
wonderful friends she made (and kept) along the way.
And then there was
Chapter 12 – when she moved to this amazing town just
outside of Placerville – called Camino, in Apple Hill®. Our
mom met many friends here. And – to clarify – she didn’t
just make friends - she developed friendships – lasting
friendships with everyone she met. All of you, here today.
She attended every
sporting event, recital, play and event – no matter what.
She did, sometimes (oftentimes) forget to pick us up from
school. But it soon became a bit of a game to guess how
long we thought it would take her to remember that she
forgot. (this was before cell –phones…). So we would sit,
and wait – and guess how long it would take her to
remember. The average was about 40 minutes. It was
actually when dinner was ready – and she realized none of us
She made everything
extra special – A classic example was Christmas time - she
didn’t want to just give the kids presents for Christmas –
she made it a treasure hunt. She’d hide the gifts for each
grandchild and give them clues on how to find it.
Sometimes, she’d forget where the first clue was – and that
was usually a problem – but we eventually figured it out.
Paper hats and noise makers were mandatory at every
holiday. These are things we will continue to do.
Chapters 13 through 16
would be her first four grandchildren – Michael, Nick, Matt
& Lindsay – who loved their grandma very much. They weren’t
ready to see her go. She loved them so much and showed them
every time she saw them – which was often. She never missed
a sporting event and encouraged random lunches and shopping
sprees. They particularly remembers our mom doing her “Yo
Yo Go Yo Go dance”- which might not surprise most people
here today… Which inspired her to buy a Zoomba CD, which
she was excited to try out.
These inspired Chapters
17, 18 and 19 which were titled “Mike & Nick and the Pumpkin
Patch”, “Nana Gets a Cat” and “Grandmother’s Bell and the
Wagon Train.” She loved writing – especially about her
grandkids. She was so creative and such a positive
influence on all of us, and everyone that was lucky enough
to spend time with her.
This was also when she
started giving us what we soon labeled as classic mom
presents – including: VCR’s (before videos were
available), cross country skis (we NEVER cross country
skied), Tempurpedic pillows – until our dad finally took
over the responsibility of gift giving… and Her latest
purchase was a vacuum cleaner – that was more expensive than
we’d want to admit. But it was apparently a REALLY nice
vacuum cleaner that aside from picking up dirt and dust,
would totally clean out the air too and more.
Chapters 20 through 35
would be the 16 clubs and organizations that she was
involved with in this community – not including the
membership card she had for the Red Hawk Casino (technically
a “club”)… and the penny slots that made her feel good if
she needed to just relax…
And then there was
Chapter 36, called “Mike & Mindy” – along with chapters 37
and 38, titled “Mark” and “Mia.” Only four and six, they
already knew how wonderfully creative, fun and adventurous
our mom was. “ marbles?” Yes. “swimming?” Of course.
“Gingerbread houses?” Absolutely. She always said yes –
and she made everything fun. and they loved their G-ma so
much. They weren’t ready to see her go either. But they
learned so much from her…and will have hundreds of happy
This would also be the
time she wrote the 3 page, single-spaced, typed letter to
the Highway Patrol (Pville division) – explaining how the
laws of gravity and a car-full of Shakespeare Club ladies
lead her to speed down North Canyon Road. She was trying to
fight the ticket – it didn’t work. But it was classic mom.
Chapters 39 – 59 would
be the many wonderful trips she took with our dad and
vacations together with their close friends. Driving
through Tuscany, sea-side hotel in Acapulco, tropical
Hawaiian islands, Exotic Africa & India and coastal France -
just to name a few.
These inspired chapter
60, titled “Christopher on Safari”. Her fourth picture
She could entertain kids
(and us) with her “fly away Peter, fly away Paul” skit– that
was so simple, but so magical to kids. And funny to us,
because she’d be laughing so hard that she could never get
through the whole thing.
She was so close to
doing the re-write of her cherished project – also known as,
chapter 61 – “Okei-san. The Girl From Wakamatsu.” – an
historical novel. She actually finished it, but was
enjoying the research so much that she revisited every
aspect of the book so many times, and was on what seemed
like the 28th re-write. She met so many
wonderful people researching and writing this book. Her
friendship had no limits to geography or language. She was
a cherished friend to the many people involved in this
project, and proud to be part of the People to People
organization and inspired to make the trip to Japan to learn
more about the people, culture and history.
She was kind,
thoughtful and generous. She was funny, smart and
beautiful. She wasn’t afraid to burst out into song –
loudly – at certain functions. She sang opera. Yet, she
couldn’t sing opera. It was classic. She would laugh so
hard, she would cry – almost every day. She took bag-pipe
lessons for 6 months, and still couldn’t play them.
She still had so much
she was going to do – and it doesn’t seem possible that she
won’t be here to do it.
Most people have address
books. She had what we call “the white binder.” It’s
huge. And overflowing with contact information on just
about every person she’s ever met. It’s divided into
sections – family, friends, friends of family, Cal friends,
Karen’s friends, CASA, Sac Writers Group, High School
Friends and more . And there wasn’t just phone numbers –
but intricate details about each person – including
birthdays, anniversaries and photos, if available. She
truly cared about everyone.
You would never be left
alone at a party – if our mom was there. She would make
extra efforts to make sure everyone felt included and
special. This was just her style.
She loved the garden and
landscaping that our dad had recently created for her – and
fully intended to watch it grow and bloom for many, many
years. This garden will always remind us of her – not that
we need reminders, but it will be beautiful, just like her.
She is irreplaceable.
But we will all remember her every day, because she’s had
such a positive and profound impact on our lives. We feel
lucky to have had her as our mom – and will do everything we
can to make her proud.
When we started writing
this – we thought it was the sad ending to a wonderful
story. We now know - it is sad only for the people who
didn’t have the chance to meet her. Because we all know, you
only had to meet her once to know she was genuine. It was
as if she knew her purpose in life was to make other people
feel good. And that’s exactly what she did – every, single
day. There were no strangers to her, only friends she
hadn’t met yet.
There is no final
chapter in this story about our mom… the stories will
continue to be told – happy stories that will make us smile
and laugh, and positive stories that will inspire and
encourage us to do more for others..
She was who , we all