The following are letters my sister and I wrote to my mom in a book we put together as a gift to celebrate the last birthday she spent on earth. We didn't realize that it would be the last birthday we would spend with her, but so glad we were able to express our sentiments while she was still here with us.
There are too many memories I have of you to write them all down. From the places you would take us when we were little (the museums, parks, libraries…) to the things we did together when we were older (bike rides to Athens, tennis, long walks and talks), and everything in between. Each of those memories holds a special place in my heart, but there is so much of you that I carry with me every day as a person, and as a mother. I wish you were able to see now how we carry inside of us all that you worked hard to instill in us. As a mother now, I know just how hard it is, wanting to instill in my children the things that I even fall short of and am still striving for. As mothers, we worry and wonder if the mistakes we make will affect our kids in the long run, and also if they will take for themselves the values we try so hard to instill in them. Well Moo, you have really pulled it off…not by anything you preached to us or taught us with words, but by your genuine and unwavering quest to seek and serve God and love Him and His people. I will never forget seeing you sit in the formal living room reading your Bible and praying. I will forever appreciate that your priorities for us were to love God first, and love others. You were never concerned with the goals that the rest of the world had for their kids, and yet you supported us and stayed up with us many nights studying for tests or helping with projects, which helped both of us to succeed academically. It always struck me how you never cared to fit in with the crowd or get your own social needs met, but instead you always looked to see how you could meet the needs of others, especially the elderly, the lonely, the sick, the kids who had special needs…the ones that everyone else overlooked. You loved the poor and were the happiest when you were with them, or giving to them. You had us spend our Saturdays at Capuchin Soup Kitchen, and spend summer days at the shelter for single mothers and their kids. I still have distinct memories of those places. All of this, plus countless visits to the sick/lonely/needy with you and Baba left an impact on us so great that it has become a huge part of who we are and what we do. You were always so wise, such a good listener and counselor. Sometimes I think you are in the place you are so that God could give you the desire of your heart, to be a blessing to others, to live as a nun ;), and to serve those who are the hardest to serve. Even in your sickness, you are continuing to bless so many. Your sickness changed us, and saved us in ways we could have never planned ourselves.
What an incredible woman you are- and I get to call you Mom…
There are so many days I wish I could call you and ask for your advice about things with the kids. Days where I stay awake worrying if I’m doing anything right, worrying about them, and wishing I could talk to you about it…and then I realize that deep inside of me, your voice, your spirit, your answers are there. Recently, I found an incredibly touching poem you had written in your journal, and I believe that the last 2 lines capture the way you lived your life.
“Shall the Great Judge learn when my task is through, that my spirit has gained some riches too?
Or shall at last it be mine to find, that all I’ve worked for, I’ve left behind…”
My dear mom, truly all of the riches you worked for are spiritual riches, an inheritance you passed down to us that moth and rust cannot destroy. Every time I worry about something, and wonder what you would say, I remember that you always had such a heavenly perspective. Grades, career, worldly accomplishments, and everyday struggles start to fade in the light of what really matters. Your life, your spirit, and now your sickness are a testimony to that and for that I will be forever grateful. I love you.
Mama who evolved into Moo is the most selfless person I know and I didn't truly appreciate it and understand it fully until I became an "adult."
My childhood was filled with daily home cooked meals, special snacks, notes in my lunches that eventually turned into weekly letters in my college mail box.
Endless rides to school, basketball practice, Girl Scout meetings, friends' houses and never a complaint - always out of love.
I realize how much she put on hold for the whole family.
She has a contagious laugh that was sometimes uncontrollable and lead to tears.
She instilled in me a desire and an obligation to help others - her Christian faith permeated every aspect of her life.
She was beautiful in her simplicity.
Even though she's still with me, I miss her and I hope she knows how much I appreciated her!