My mother (Mom, Mary, Aunt Marna, Nana) died on September 16, 2003, from complications of advanced Alzheimer’s disease.
Mom was, by every measure and qualifier, my dearest, best friend. It was a friendship thoroughly tested, always passed. For example, when I was about 11 Years old, I advised Mom that she could greatly improve her image if she were to learn to drive a car and smoke cigarettes, just like my school chum Bobby Brown’s mom. Without protest or offense, Mom willingly met me halfway, but I was still always critical of her driving skills.
My dearest best friend held steadfast our best-friendship through many personal crises—hers and mine—with mine always given deference by Mon, and, most tellingly, through those times when my open displays of arrogance and narcissism elbowed out my unacknowledged love and respect for her. Mom was my proven best friend.
Some years ago, before Mom died, I was describing her to an acquaintance of mine, and spontaneously (and surprisingly even to me) I said, “Pound-for-pound, my mother is the most extraordinary person I have ever known,” quite an acknowledgement from someone who at one time thought her completely clueless.
Is there anyone who knew Mom, intimately or casually, even imagine that the kinds of horrific headlines that dominate our newspapers today would exist if everyone in the world were to adopt the effortless love and spirituality that marked the moment-to-moment life of this barely five-foot-tall, barely 100-pound most extraordinary person? I think not.
There is a simple guideline which, if daily I and others would apply to the challenges of life, would provide all that is necessary and for which ponderous philosophical tracts, religious tomes and self-help pulp are mere redundant footnotes: How would Mom bear this burden, suffer this indignity, resolve this conflict?
I know of no more elegant testimony to Mom, the person she was and the legacy she left, then her granddaughter Robin’schoolgirl’s words: The
A person I Look up to
by Robin Woodburn, Grade 6
“I look up to my Nana. She is nice and always in a good mood. She will do anything for you. She will not talk about anybody, and she doesn’t gossip. She works at the post office. Everyone at the post office loves her. My Nana is very thoughtful. She seems to love everyone. And she is very well respected. Everyone admires her. And I do too. My Nana is very, very, very, very nice. You would like her.”
My mother was the most extraordinary person I have ever known, and I miss her greatly.