On February 26th of last year I was at Peter Barton Stadium on the campus of Denver University watching a lacrosse game when my cell phone rang. I could see it was my brother-in-law from his number on my phone. My brother-in-law, who lives with the rest of my family in Kansas, doesn’t call me often, usually only when something is wrong. He said my mom had a massive stroke, and she wasn’t going to make it, just the type of call that I always feared getting from back home. I was able to get back to Shawnee Mission Kansas in time, but she was in a coma that she would never come out of. Tomorrow will be the first anniversary of her death.
I really didn’t think it was going to affect me the way it has one year later, but for the past few days I have been thinking about what I was doing a year ago; the first day I got to the hospital and saw her, then three days of watching her struggle for her life the way she did, and then she finally passed. Then it was the funeral arrangements with my family, writing her obituary, then the funeral. An abrupt end to a lifetime of having my mother in my life.
I think about mom every day, and I am constantly reminded of her by physical things, like Kansas State University or Kansas City Chiefs memorabilia she had given me (in fact I’m wearing one of those sweat shirts as I write this), or crafts that she made for me. Just about everywhere I look in my house there is a reminder of her. But more importantly I think about the person I am because of who she was, and the mother she was.
Carolyn Sue was her given name, but she went by Carrie, and later in her life as she became well known for her crafts in leather work and other Native American crafts, she was known as Moon Star by a large following of people. She was quite a talented woman, in everything she did in her life, but her craft work and artistic ability became her hallmark later in her life. She taught me a lot of those skills, and now I have all of her leather working tools to work with, and I think of her when I use those tools to make the things I make.
I owe so much of the person I am to mom. She was a fighter in life who overcame a lot of adversity to persevere and succeed at whatever path she chose. She was a loving mother who never saw my faults, but always wanted me to be the best at whatever I did. She drove me really hard with every activity, like cub scouts, school, and sports. She was at every sporting event I ever played in, and she was always the parent yelling the loudest to encourage me. And she is the one who encouraged me to become a writer when I was only 14, she told me that my words painted pictures in her mind, and that inspired me. That is when I started keeping a journal and writing about things in my life.
Mom was also the person who really got me started in outdoor activities. She liked to fish, and I remember so many early mornings getting out on a lake with mom and my great grandpa in a john boat fishing for bass and crappie. My mom and I fished a lot together over the years, and I took her on a horse back trip into the Flat Tops Wilderness area in 2008 with my sons Jake and Kyle. Kyle taught her to fly fish for the first time. That was kind of a rough trip because of her health, but she did OK, and caught her first trout on a fly rod on that trip.
It was trip that my sons and I will always remember.
Last summer when I went back to that same place my son Kyle and I spread her ashes there, on a mountain side overlooking the valley and stream where we camped and fished.
I could write chapters about mom, but I’ll end this post by saying this: treasure your loved ones and enjoy every moment you have with them. I miss you Mom.