Archive for the 'Memories of Mom' Category
We have come to another season of change in our lives, an ending that leaves a huge hole. A hole that will need to be filled somehow. For so many years Shirely has been a mainstay for us, the anchor that kept us strong even as she began losing strength herself. When I was going through her things a month ago, I came across a piece of writing, an excerpt from a letter my brother Ted wrote in 1972. It’s advice that I know will help keep me focused on the future and not the past, on what I continue to gain instead of what I have lost, on what I can give instead of what I am no longer receiving. It’s the best advice on how to embrace endings and change that I have ever come across. I hope it gives us all a sense of peace and direction.
“The end is always a beginning. If an end became an end, you are not only refuting the nature of man, but you are also subjecting man to be dominated by history, which has no right to be the domineering fact. Man can never be an end in himself, he must be the beginning for another person.” (Edward Latchford Tuttle, Jr., 1972)
Goodbye for a while, Mom. And rest in the assurance that we who remain will continue to be the beginning for everyone we meet. See you soon.No comments
Being Shirley Tuttle’s daughter has been hard work because, as I tell people only slightly in jest, she is a tough act to follow. She was loving, sweet, nurturing, generous to a fault, totally down-to-earth, empathetic, always putting other people’s needs before her own – yeah, I know you’re blushing up there, Mom – and telling me to shut up – and offering me more cheese and crackers. But it’s all true. This was one amazing, incredible woman. So, when I say “tough act,” I know what I’m talking about.
When I was little, my mother seemed infinitely strong and wise. She always knew everything, had all the answers. I can’t remember ever getting an “I don’t know” from her. I used to worry about what I would do when I had kids of my own, because I knew I didn’t have any of the answers. But when Aaron came along, Mom gave me a fabulous piece of advice. And I realized that she had flown through the skies of parenthood by the seat of her pants, just like everyone else. She told me I didn’t need to have all the answers, I just had to act like I did. And it worked!
This was one woman who should have had a houseful of children. She had so much love inside her, she couldn’t give it all away if she tried. And she did try. First to me, and then my brother, Ted, when she and Dad adopted us and made us their own. No bond of birth-parenthood was ever stronger than the bond she had with us. Then she gave to her friends’ children, and as her sisters and brothers slipped away, she included her nieces and nephews in her family circle. For someone who never physically bore children, she had the largest family I’ve ever seen.
Mom and Dad gathered friends around them the way honey attracts ants. Everywhere they went, every trip they took, added a few more to the ever-expanding circle. I always thought that was the way things were for everyone, until I grew up and left home and discovered that the rest of us have to work really hard at what came so naturally to Shirley and Ed. And how they loved to party! Everything was an excuse to gather the group and party hearty: Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, holidays, gin rummy nights, bowl games, horse races – you name it, they celebrated it. We’d barely have time to take down one set of backyard decorations before putting the next ones up.
There are so many Shirley stories. One of my favorites is about their honeymoon train trip down to Florida where Dad was stationed during World War II. They went into the train’s club car for dinner and sat down. When the waiter came over, Dad ordered a cocktail. Then the waiter asked, “And what would your daughter like?”
And how about the times when Ted or Dad or I would leave the house, and she’d open up a window and yell, “Whoopie!”? Often, when I would ask if I could do something or other, Mom’s whimsical side would come out when she’d answer, “Yes, you can, and you can even sit on the eggs.” And talk about whimsical – the first song she ever taught me was, “Underneath the Bamboo Tree.”
Mom and Dad never got out of the honeymoon stage of their marriage, which caused me no end of embarrassment. When I attended St. Joseph’s Elementary School, we were allowed to go home for the noon meal each day. But I could never invite a friend over for lunch, because I never knew when I walked in the door if I’d find Mom on Dad’s lap, smooching away. I think I went through grade school with a permanently red face.
Shirley was the quintessential nurturer. No one could walk through her door without being fed. And no one could walk back out the door without taking half the contents of her pantry with them. Whenever she’d bake a batch of brownies or a cake, she’d parcel it out into smaller shares and hang little goodie bags on doorknobs in her apartment building. And when it came to game prizes, Shirley was the Queen. A few times I even “won” back some little thing I’d given her for Chirstmas or Easter.
I’ve got a million stories about Mom, about what made her the kind, considerate and courageous woman that she was. I’ll be posting them to this page as I get them written. So, when you start missing her, come visit her vicariously and share a laugh or two. For that’s what she loved most, sharing laughter.
After Dad died, Mom and I talked a lot about death. Mom always said she didn’t want tears and sorrow for her. She’d lived a wonderful life with her best friend and lover, and she wanted laughter, happiness and celebration to accompany her into the afterlife. And no sad, dirge-like funeral songs. She asked me a couple of years ago to write a song just for her, and when she heard it she asked me to sing it for her at her funeral.
So, Mom, this is for you…
I’VE GONE HOME*
I am a child of hope and peace, part of the Master Plan.
I was sent to earth to learn to love, and to share my heart and hand.
Now I’ve gone home, I’ve gone home,
Let the trumpet sound, call the victory
For God was waiting there for me.
God tested me throughout my life, some lessons hard to bear.
Still I walked the road in trust and faith, for I knew my God was there.
Saying, you’ll come home, someday you’ll come home,
There’ll be joy and praise and angel song,
For you’ll be back where you belong.
God gifted me with love and joy, and He danced on the night I was born,
Then He sent His angels to watch over me. There is nothing here to mourn.
For I’ve gone home, I’ve gone home,
Let the glory ring from place to place
For I am safe in His embrace.
Though it’s hard, I know, for you who stay upon this world of strife,
Take comfort in the love we shared, and celebrate my life.
You know that I’ve gone home, I’ve gone home,
And when the day has come that your journey’s through
I will be waiting there for you.
Yes, I’ve gone home, I’ve gone home,
And with my God I stand, hand in hand,
Waiting patiently for you.
I love you, Mom.
*Words and music by Susan Tuttle2 comments