Written by Joel Klaassen Tuesday, 13 January 2009 14:11
This past Saturday was different than my Saturdays have been for nearly 19 years. After my dad died in May 1990, it was my routine to go see how my mom was doing and if she needed anything. It wasn’t duty—I really enjoyed seeing her because she had so much to share and it was fun.
Now that she’s gone, I feel a big hole already. We knew her life was ebbing away over the past few months and, although she was 93, I’m still not ready.
Her life was a journey and we all went along—including my sisters, brother and a host of close relatives and friends. We all have a perspective, and I am giving mine here.
I remember my mother as being strict but lenient at the same time. Strict when it came to obeying the rules but lenient when we wanted to learn and try things. When I strayed off course she would always say, “That isn’t the way we raised you.” Words I didn’t like to hear, but they had a purpose.
She had many talents but never came across as though she did. She was a spiritual person, too, but never outward about it. Example was her style.
And she was funny without trying to be that way. I used to have uncontrollable laughing spells and I think they came from her—still do. My dad used to be stern with us kids when we sat around the kitchen table. As he was making his case, my mom would get the giggles and it was over. She saved us many times.
The memories will never fade if pictures have anything to do with it. We have been going through hundreds of photos documenting the years. She made each of us a scrapbook of our early years, which we all cherish now.
She was mighty busy while we were growing up with four kids and a full-time job as a registered nurse. Her specialty was the surgical suite and the obstetrics wing. When the new hospital was opened in the mid-1950s in Hillsboro, she stayed behind at the old hospital with a patient who was too sick to move. When he was well enough to be transferred, she joined the rest of the staff in the new facility.
When they moved back to Minnesota in the late 1960s, she continued with nursing.
I think she must have been even busier after retirement. She always wanted to have her own business, so she and my dad opened a furniture repair/ refinishing, paint, wallpaper, decorating store after they both retired. Plus she took up quilting, and I wouldn’t begin to guess how many hours she spent on those quilts. She became an expert.
After my dad died, she was devastated that he passed away at a relatively young age by today’s standards. They were looking forward to celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and missed it by half a year.
I admire her for what happened next. She said she could sit around and feel sorry for herself or she could live again—and she chose the latter.
She traveled, quilted, mentored elementary school children, made banners at church, reminisced with the elderly and much more.
She later scaled back by selling the house and moved to an apartment at Parkside Homes to prepare for what might lie ahead. She lived in Parkside Homes for the past five years, gradually losing her ability to do the things she loved most.
I am thankful for a place like Parkside and most importantly blessed that she was my mom and mentor for almost 63 years.