In the last few days, hundreds of people have reached out to Eric, my father & I, from all corners of the country and all walks of life. It’s been overwhelming in the best way possible to realize how loved we are by the people we’ve chosen to surround ourselves with. We take friendship seriously because of her example.
My Mom taught me to be a good friend. She was always looking out for other people – calling them on birthdays, writing cards for any occasion she could find, planning reunions with cousins she treated like siblings or just remembering the smallest details that you told her in a throw away conversation. She always listened, because she always cared.
And because of that, every single hug, flower arrangement, lasagna, cookie, pizza, sub, cake, salad in the past week… is a testament to the caliber of children that she raised & husband she married. Every person that’s called or emailed or sent a nice message is an extension of her legacy and a way that she lives on through us.
You can’t talk about my mom without talking about my Dad, because they were a team. Together they taught me that anything is possible with hard work… when we lived in Glen Burnie, my mom helped create a community parks system so we had a swing set up the street and a park to hunt for Easter Eggs in once a year. When Eric raced BMX and the nearest track was over an hour away, my Mom & Dad co-founded Chesapeake BMX a few miles from our house. They moved literal mountains of dirt and rock to give us a better childhood, and in the process gave hundreds of other children the same advantages. My mom has helped shape beautiful memories for countless strangers.
She taught me so many things that I am still discovering every day. My Mom and Dad were married for 35 years, and together for 41, they met when she was 19. They have taught me what love looks like, and that it is not a 24/7 fairytale and that it is hard work and sometimes pain, but that that work is so worth every moment because the whole is beautiful because of the trials.
My parents taught me to value myself, to hold myself to a high standard, to never lie and to have integrity above all else. You don’t realize you’ve learned lessons like these until you come up against circumstances that require them, and then in the aftermath, all you can do is thank your parents for caring enough to impart some of their wisdom onto you. I know that there will be moments in the future when I am challenged, and even though she is no longer here with me physically, my mom will be there to help me through them because of the time we did have and the person that she was.
My mom wrote up a notecard describing herself, the way that she saw herself and on it she had things like “loving mother”, “devoted wife”, “best friend to Sue Ellen”… and one of the phrases she wrote was “weak person”… which is so humble and so her. Yes, she was weak - in the sense that Multiple System Atrophy may have taken her from us far before her time. But it takes strength to be gentle in this world, and I don’t think I’ve ever met a gentler soul than my mother. She was selfless, more selfless than I know that I will ever be. She had the biggest heart and would do absolutely anything for you.
I cannot think of one instance, in the (almost) 30 years of my life when she demanded a thank you for any of the things that she did for me. So I want to take a second now to say thank you, Mom. For everything I’ve mentioned today, and for everything I’ll discover tomorrow. I love you.