Right now, I have no doubt that my mom is loving this. She’s looking down, seeing me at church, in a suit and tie, being reverent, addressing a congregation, etc.
Mom: I’m even wearing dress shoes. I did, however, bring the kid with the mohawk.
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Jared Anderson, one of my mom’s 4 children, her only son, and #4 on her all time list of favorite children.
For those of you who didn’t know my mom, she was always the quietest person in the room with the loudest clothing.
She was also someone I could always count on to laugh at my jokes, even when she was at the butt end of them.
I love my mom. I’m proud of my mom. I admire her achievements, her strength & courage, her kindness, her loyalty, her thoughtfulness, her curiosity, her ambition, her love of fun, and -- above all else -- her love of family.
My mom had a wide range of interests and talents; she truly wanted it all. I’m filled with memories of her feeding her unquenchable curiosity by learning new software, taking voice lessons, piano lessons, decor, books, crafts, art, design, gadgets, quilting, start-ups, games, projects, or to summarize in her Ross’s terms: doh-dads.
But through her years of restless activity, and above all else, there was never any question in my mind as to what she valued the most: her family. One of my mom’s dearest friends recently blogged, “She adored her children and grandchildren. They were literally the light of her life.” I concur. Mom firmly instilled the importance of family in my soul.
Thank you for that, mom.
I was thinking about when it’s my turn in the casket and how I’d want my kids to feel about me; I hope it’s not much different than how I feel about my mom.
My stepdad Ross recently shared a story in which they were playing a game with friends. Each person was asked who they’d choose to be if they could choose anyone in the whole world. Everyone wrote down their answers and they had to guess whose answer was whose. My mom loved children, she loved making children smile, and she especially loved to spoil her kids and grandkids. My mom chose Santa Claus.
I’ll always remember the look on my wife Sara’s face at her first Christmas with the family. It was very similar to Ross’s face when he joined the family just a few years prior. I suppose if you’ve never seen Christmas presents fill an entire tree -- and the entire floor of the room leading up to the tree -- Christmas morning at my mom’s house would be quite shocking.
Elijah, my eldest son, says one of his funniest memories was when we spent the Christmas before last at Grandma’s house and Grandma had bought us so many presents that they couldn’t all fit in the car ride back to Arizona.
It could be very dangerous to open your mouth around a quiet, always-thinking, gift giver who has an affinity for gadgets. I once briefly expressed interest in the physics behind a pressure cooker. Guess what I got as a gift the following Christmas.
My wife Sara once laughed at an infomercial for some hair device called the inStyler; guess what came in the mail a short time later.
She saw Steph crushing pills for her children with the end of a butter knife. A special gadget soon followed.
Mom noticed Ross’s guitar was beginning to look a little beat down -- a new guitar soon followed.
3 position laptop table that easily and quickly stows under your couch with a push of a button: yep.
Not many people accused my mom of being practical. She hated giving practical, “boring” gifts.
My mom vowed to protect her kids from the feelings of deprivation, neglect, and lovelessness she felt as a child.
Mom didn’t talk too much about her childhood. I know her childhood was hard for her. I know she never felt like she belonged. She was deprived, abused, and neglected and her big, sensitive heart was hurt by it.
I also know she endured it. I know she made some peace with it and grew to better understand and respect her mom. She told me not long ago that one measurement of parental success is whether you protected your children from the pains and hardships you yourself experienced -- and whether you offered more stability, love, and opportunity than you yourself were offered. She went on to express gratitude to her mom for doing just that.
My mom shared some happy memories from her childhood. Apparently, my mom’s endless love for animals began when she was a child. She had many pet cats, dogs, chickens, pigs, a large iguana, a raccoon, and even once watched her mom try to nurse a wounded bat back to health.
By far the fondest memory my mom would tell was about popping popcorn, drinking Pepsi, and playing games with her mom and her brother Charles. These were such happy memories for her that, up until the day she died, Pepsi and popcorn were her go-to pick-me-ups.
I loved watching her interact with my Uncle Charles because it revealed an otherwise guarded side of her. I loved watching her play the role of protective and teasing big sister. Those two seemed to share a bond akin to the bonds shared by fellow trauma survivors. By the way she always talked about her brother Charles, it was always crystal clear to me how highly she thought of him.
She often expressed regret that life circumstances prevented her from developing the kind of relationship she would have like to have with her youngest brother, Steven. Nonetheless, her love and protective feelings revealed themselves whenever Steven came around.
From an outside standpoint, mom’s time in high school seemed normal. She was once runner-up to being the Snow Queen at her high school’s Snow Queen Dance. She graduated at the top of her class and was voted “Most Likely to Succeed.” Mom was extremely smart. She excelled academically and her teachers loved her. She was smart during a time and place when and where it was “uncool” for a girl to be smart.
Mom always seemed to go a little against the grain.
She also loved to play sports. She was Vice President of the Girl’s Athletic Association in high school. She described this program more as a glorified, after-school recess, but she happily took whatever opportunity she could get. I know she wished she would have had more opportunities.
My mom found great joy in providing her kids with many of the opportunities she felt she missed out on. She enjoyed watching us grow and succeed. She enrolled her kids in soccer, baseball, basketball, swimming, tennis, typing, and gymnastics.
During Stephanie’s successful soccer run, it was always the big family joke that mom was Stephanie’s one-woman-marching-band. We’d all get a laugh out of teasing mom by saying she’d follow Steph to every game, march around the field in team attire, and yell and root for Stephanie. She had such pride in being the Team Mom - even if it was an unofficial, self-appointed title.
She always talked so highly of all her children and her grandchildren. I was often intimidated by the reputation that had preceded me. We were so blessed to have such an advocate.
Despite her leadership roles in sports, and despite her academic success, mom felt out of place as a child. She described herself as being “extremely shy” and “socially backwards.” I think she harbored these feelings her whole life.
In high school, she fantasized of being voted “Most Popular” instead of “Most Likely to Succeed,” but the idea of being the center of attention terrified her. Mom was too afraid to come out of her shell.
When my parents met, my dad describes my mom as being really shy, really smart, and easy to talk to. My dad says he could tell she felt and thought very deeply. My dad found her quietness and thoughtfulness mysterious and intriguing. My mom found his extrovertedness and spontaneity exciting. Mom always wanted to be part of the action and she found a comfortable place NEAR the center of attention.
Looking back at all the time we spent as a family over the years, even long after my mom and dad split up, my mom was happy to do anything, anywhere, for however long just as long as she could be part of the action and near the center of attention. She loved to have a good time; she loved for us to sit around as a family, play games, watch sports, and light-heartedly tease each other.
My mom’s kindness was disarming. My dad recalls how she could make friends with the grumpiest, most eccentric people he’d ever met. When they were first starting out, they managed a retirement home in a rough part of San Francisco. My mom’s disarming kindness resulted in many otherwise grumpy, geriatric friends. When Jennie was born, their love for my mom extended to Jennie and Jen was blessed with a retirement home full of adoptive grandparents.
When my parents marriage ended, we moved to Utah to regroup. In the same year her marriage to my father ended, she also unexpectedly lost her youngest daughter. That was a very difficult year for everyone, but it was an especially trying time for my mom.
A few years back, I almost lost my leg in a motorcycle accident. The experience brought me such excruciating pain that it has forever changed my 1 to 10 pain scale that health care workers ask about. The pain was untreatable. Once, as I was laying in a hospital room with part of my leg here, part of it there, and part of it on the I-10 somewhere between Phoenix and Tempe, a young, orthopedic resident commented that I must not have a very high tolerance for pain.
How very astute for a 2-legged, twenty year old.
Similarly, anybody who saw my mom as weak and fragile -- especially during the year she divorced, lost her child, and relocated -- could not possibly fathom her pain scale.
I so admire her strength during this very difficult time, and I’m so proud of her and how she endured.
I know that her love for her surviving children, and the vow she made to protect us, is what got her through these hardest days.
Mom, thank you so much for that. I’m so proud of your efforts and how faithfully you lived by your vow -- you should be proud too.
Mom never completely conquered her pain, but with strength, endurance, ambition, and courage she learned to live on and flourish. Mom was amazing.
Her bravery didn’t stop at just survival. She slowly picked herself up, resumed her education, and earned an MBA from BYU just a few years later.
She soon after started her professional career and held a handful of jobs, but she particularly loved Marketing and she loved to be the “Office Mom.”
Even though my mom’s attention was divided between her professional life and her family life, there was never a doubt in my mind what was most important to her: her family.
I can’t count on both hands how many times she used her professional connections to help me and her loved ones find work.
Mom sought out jobs that provided her with the flexibility to be a mom first. She rarely, if ever, missed steph’s soccer games, the birth of a grandchild, graduation, baby blessings, baptisms, the opportunity to babysit -- you name it, she attended it.
She even completely reworked her upcoming summer vacation schedule so she could attend Elijah’s Priesthood ordinance coming up in just a few weeks.
Mom’s world revolved around family.
I must admit, one of the most awkward times in my life was watching my mom reenter the dating scene and doing all the silly things that come along with courtship. I wanted mom to move on and find happiness with another, but it sure was awkward watching it happen.
It was much more difficult for her than it was for me.
I once again find myself proud of her courage, strength, and determination. Here you have this sensitive, heart broken, “extremely shy,” “socially backwards,” middle aged women who, because of her shyness, only dated once in high school -- and only because “she had to” -- here she is returning to the dating scene with the baggage of 3 kids who thought they were American Idol judges and treated each suitor as a contestant.
No pressure, Mom.
My mom, who was always terrified by the prospect of coming out of her shell, did just that in the face of potential rejection and to the vocal embarrassment of her kids.
Mom, I never gave you enough credit for being so brave.
To illustrate just how much my mom had grown during this time, one of the first impressions she had on her husband Ross was one of “confidence.”
He also recalls her having a pretty smile, bright white teeth, and sparkling eyes that looked right through you. He described her as soft spoken, kind, thoughtful, feminine, spiritual, deep, poised, humble and confident. She dressed nicely and flamboyantly with colorful clothing and jewelry, extremely large earrings, and bright red lipstick.
Oh boy did mom finally come out of her shell!
Mom and Ross were best of friends before they married. I’m not sure what finally sealed the deal for Ross, but if I had to guess, I’d say when Mom gave Ross food.
Mom was a great cook.
My mom loved Ross’s kindness, his sense of humor, his faith, his patience, and his fun and adventurous spirit. She especially loved how he related to her kids.
Mom and Ross shared an exciting, adventurous, and active marriage. They enjoyed boating, biking, rollerblading, windsurfing, dancing, traveling, hiking, tennis, and socializing. Ross tells of their travels to fun, tropical places where my mom fearlessly fed wild monkeys, petted 600 pound snapping turtles, and cuddled with little lion cubs.
It must have been a bit overwhelming to join a family of 4, but Ross fit in perfectly. Ross got a taste of life as father figure - which I know was both sweet and sour - and he navigated it perfectly. Sorry about those rambunctious years, Flatnose.
Mom really struggled in the empty nest stage of life. The idea of growing old and brittle appalled her. She was a kid at heart and couldn’t come to peace with the idea of living a slower, quieter, more restful and solitary life. It hurt her to not be part of the daily action.
Mom battled depression her whole life; a downside to being a sensitive, deep thinking and deep feeling person. Sometime during the last few years, Mom lost her fighting spirit. She grew more depressed, tired, and unhealthy. I kept hoping and praying she’d rebound and find peace; I regret not being able to do more.
But this is not how I will remember my mom. I remember my mom as a kind-hearted fighter unafraid to try and do anything. I’ll remember all the fun times we had together.
Staying at Mom’s house this past week has been bitter sweet. I keep waiting for my mom to sneak back in the house after she had snuck out to run boring errands. She always planned her responsibilities around the fun so she wouldn’t miss out or disrupt it.
My mom’s personality is still scattered about the house -- from her impractical convertible in the garage to her wild, stray cat she rescued but became too emotional to complete the trip to animal control.
Mom’s got crafts, knick knacks, and decorations coming out of everywhere. There is no doubt that Mom loved things, and even though her house is loaded full of things, the grandkids are never afraid they’ll break anything. That’s because when they did, Grandma didn’t care. She loved happy kids far more than she loved her things.
My mom’s hobby room has spilled out from an upstairs office, into the hallway, to the stairs, down the stairs, behind the couch, and into the spare bedroom in the basement.
This crazy mess is tough to live with, but it just makes me smile. It’s the physical manifestation of my mom’s endless curiosity and her need for mental stimulation. She’d start one thing, figure it out, got bored, and moved on.
I do feel sorry for whoever has to clean it up. Steph?
Above all else, mom’s house is filled with decades of happy memories.
I want to express my deep gratitude to everyone for all the kind thoughts, prayers, and gestures offered to our family during this difficult time. Thank you so much for everything. I’m sure Ross has enough food to last him a few months.
Mom, I will always need you. You left us too soon and too abruptly. I pray for your peace and comfort and I can’t wait for our happy reunion.
You were right, mom. Now that you’re gone I even miss your really bad jokes.
I love you, mom.