I remember a funeral we went to together where the deceased's family got up and shared their memories and feelings of the person's accomplishments and life. Afterward you said to me that when the time came, you didn't want a lot of people getting up and talking about you. I understood fully. One of the many things you taught me was to understand that life's most satisfying accomplishments are often times the ones that you do out of the goodness of your heart and that often times those things aren't even noticed. The focus shouldn't be on being recognized it should be in doing the things that bring a smile to another. So as I write this I apologize if I am not exactly acceding to your wishes. There aren't enough words in the dictionary to express what's in my heart and to begin to share what a kind and generous and wonderful person you were.
One of the ways you and I were alike was being people who didn't like to talk a whole lot. The difference between you and I of course was that most everything you said was worth listening to while a whole lot of the little I say makes no sense. I take comfort in that by knowing what I said always made some kind of sense to you. It amazes me to this day how no matter what homework assignment I was given in school, you were able to help me solve the problems or write the right words. You seemed to know everything. Later some of that amazement was lessened when you admitted you used to read ahead in my textbooks to prepare yourself for what we would be studying next. Still, your wisdom was endless. I could come home and talk about the goings on in a Frumpy the Clown comic, or the latest episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or share my love of a Bob Dylan song and you always knew (or at least cared about) what I was talking about. How many moms are there that would follow the Macalester football scores ten years after her son graduated simply because she knew her son might come home that weekend and talk about Macalester football and she thought she should be well versed enough so she could share another moment with her son? Among the most important life lessons you taught me was to be curious enough to keep learning, to continue to take an interest in knowledge and that it was more difficult but more worthwhile to be a good listener rather than a good talker.
Toward the end when you could no longer speak I looked deep in your eyes and still saw the connection no matter how far away the rest of you seemed to be. I must admit that there were moments in the last week when your ever-lasting smile made me cry. I miss you already Mom and the very thought that I will never see the greatest smile on earth ever again is shattering.
Even more difficult is that during life's most disappointing moments there was always the comfort in knowing I could always come home to you and that whatever reassuring was needed you were there to provide. Part of being the world's greatest crossword puzzle solver was always knowing the right word. You always knew what to say to make it all seem a little better. This is one of the most difficult moments and it is made even harder because you aren't here anymore to help lessen the sadness. Still I do remember each and every one of the happy moments too. I remember the one and only bet we ever made- it was about whom would win the NCAA basketball tournament one-year. So sure was I of my pick, Indiana (a team you couldn't stand because of the less than stellar antics of the head coach) would win the whole thing that I don't even remember what my side of the bet was. You bet that Indiana would not win and if they did you would make my bed for a whole month. So in one of the few times in life I couldn't cheer with you and I had to pull for that dreadful Coach Knight I happened to pick the right team. You, as you always did, kept your end of the bargain and made my bed for me. For thirty days (a conservative number I'm sure our family would say) I was quite the spoiled kid. On the last day of the month I crawled into my bed only to find it was short sheeted. I won the bet but you had the last laugh.
I'll never forget the last words you said to me as you tightly gripped my hand were, "I love you." For one of the only times in your life you said something you didn't need to say because there was never a moment where I doubted it. Yes we were people of few words, Mom, but I know sharing these few words with others would be OK with you. I love you too.