On February 20, 2012, my Mother went home to be with Our Savior. She went peacefully in her sleep, which is exactly how she wanted to go.
Life didn't give mom a lot of breaks. For one thing, money was a constant worry. When we didn't have enough, she stressed over it. When we did have enough, she constantly worried about losing it. The former was due to her being a child of The Great Depression. The latter was due to her losing her business as a result of the vagaries of IRS regulations. Nevertheless, she knew how to squeeze a penny until Lincoln screamed for mercy. Even more, we never wanted for a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, or food in our bellies.
Bad luck, bad men, and a bad back plagued her throughout her life. Yet, if I had to define her life in one word, that word would be 'perseverance.' My father abandoned us when I was a month old, making her a single parent long before it was socially accepted. Despite the hardship and stigma attached to our circumstance in the 70's, she still managed to raise my sister and I into decent people. She did this with love, sensitivity, and, in my case, a wooden spoon.
Much is made of the Protestant Work Ethic. My mother's work ethic made Protestants look like a bunch of layabouts. Many was the day that I saw her go to work at a job she had come to hate, even though her back caused her so much pain she could barely stand. Then, when she came home, she would take care of us and cook a meal.
Cook? Such a bland way to describe what she did. In keeping with her Sicilian heritage, food was love in our house. And when she had the time and inclination, her spaghetti and meatballs were such that I'm willing to bet that Emeril would have wept with joy at having had the privilege to sample such a meal. My mother could create a feast out of a pound of ground beef and a can of Cream of Mushroom Soup.
She also had a heart as big as all outdoors. I don't know how many Thanksgiving holidays involved setting a place at our table for someone that had no family or was too far from home to enjoy the holiday with their own family. It was never a question of 'if', just 'how many?' Some people adopt stray pets, my mom adopted stray people.
The overriding thing I observed about her was, no matter how many times her heart got broken, or how much pain she was in because of some ailment or other, or how big a financial disaster fell upon her, she never waivered in her belief that things would get better. Her faith was her rock, even before she came to Jesus. When she did, in fact, profess her faith in Jesus Christ, she at last found the peace that had eluded her for so many years. I am firm in my belief that her taking that step, combined with who knows how many of her prayers, led my sister, along with her husband and children, and I to make the same journey a few years later. It was a journey that resulted in me meeting the remarkable woman who became my wife and the mother of my children.
When she sensed that her time was coming, ever the planner and preparer, she set her affairs in order, made sure that we all understood her wishes and took steps to insure that they would be carried out with as little financial burden to her family as possible. That done, she turned and faced her end, ready and without fear. On the morning of February 20, 2012, she went to be in the arms of her Creator. From where I stand, she did so having done her duty as a "...good and faithful servant." Though the world is diminished by her passing, we, who are her legacy, embrace all that she was, and all that she taught us, and we strive to pass those qualities on to our children. It is the best way to honor her memory.