"Who has seen the wind, neither you nor I, but when the leaves bow down their heads, the wind is passing by."
Whenever the wind blows, I think of my mom. I am comforted by this simple verse that she often spoke. She passed away on October 20th, 2016. Like the wind, I cannot see her, but I can feel her presence in everything around me.
After the agonizing and precious gift of being with her for three days as her body slowly shut down, I have come to believe that somehow we have a choice about the actual time that we die. My mom waited until all of her five daughters arrived to leave her body. It was as if she wanted to see us one last time on this earth before taking her last breath.
It's hard to talk about my mom without mentioning the stroke that she had twelve years ago that started her on a slow downward spiral of short term memory loss and impaired brain function. While it was very difficult because over time she lost her vivaciousness and enthusiasm, we were grateful that her inner essence of kindness and contentment remained intact. She was always peaceful and sweet right up until the very end of her life.
As cliche as it sounds, my mom was beautiful inside and out. Her big brown eyes and blonde hair accented her dimples which were often evident. She used to say, "If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours." She always had a smile and a kind word to give away. Her generosity extended to all people, friends and strangers alike. Her outgoing personality made everyone feel welcome and comfortable in her presence.
My mom loved poetry and music. She often spoke in verse, reciting poems or songs from memory that were pertinent to the situation at hand. I remember coming home from school complaining about someone that had wronged me and she would say, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." This simple statement taught me to avoid talking unkindly about others. I learned quickly that when a friend was gossiping, if I didn't join the conversation, it would soon come to an end. My mom practiced this as well. I can't remember ever hearing her speak an unkind word about someone.
When I needed alone time with mom, I would fake an illness so I could stay home from school and be with her. She would put her cool hand on my head and say, "You feel a little warm, why don't you take the day off and rest." She knew what I was up to, but she never let on. An hour later she would come into my room and say. "Do you feel well enough to go get lunch?" Then we would spend the day together at the mall, eating, talking, and shopping.
While most teenagers were struggling to get along with their parents, I had a great relationship with my mom. My friends made every excuse possible to come over to my house. I would often find them in the kitchen hanging out with her. She had a kind and compassionate heart and a patient and understanding ear. I think my friends felt an acceptance in her presence that they may not have felt at home.
My mom was kind and gentle, but she was also gregarious and silly... even mischievous at times. I used to say that she was the one at the party most likely to have the lampshade on her head. She was uninhibited and would say and do almost anything to get a laugh. She had characters that she played that were funny and sweet, bringing about fits of laughter among my sisters and me. "Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy" was my favorite, she had a high pitched voice and she would show up to take care off you when you were sick or injured, or sometimes for no reason at all. Another favorite of mine was when mom would draw eyes and a nose on her chin and turn upside down. Then she would begin an impromptu monologue with her head hanging off the edge of the bed. She was funny and quick witted and loved an audience.
My mom was the happiest when all of her daughters were home. She was a devoted wife to my dad and a committed mother to her five daughters. I always knew that no matter what, she would be there for me. She loved us all and never judged us for our mistakes or appearance. Without her having to say it, we all knew that her love was unconditional.
When I had kids of my own, my mom became the best grandma ever. She was tender and patient when they were babies, and fun and engaging as they got older. Mom would sing and dance and build sandcastles at the beach. She would draw and paint pictures or have a catch with a football. When my kids were little, we made frequent trips to Florida to visit. Traveling with four small children was always stressful, but as soon as we arrived, mom would be at the airport waiting for us with a big smile on her face. I would let out a huge sigh of relief and my kids would run into her open arms, almost knocking her down in the process. She would have toys and snacks in the car for the ride to the house, anticipating all of our needs before we arrived.
I am grateful and very fortunate to have had a mother as generous, kind, and supportive as my mom was. I will always miss her, but I know that her simple teachings will live on in me and I hope to pass them on to my children.
They are the following;
Spend time with your kids
Don't judge others
Love with all of your heart
They say that a mom holds her child's hand for a moment, but holds her child's heart for a lifetime. My mom, Shirley Jean Anderson Sax will hold my heart for the rest of my life.
Thank you mom. I love you and I miss you forever.
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