I am one of those lucky girls that called my mom my best friend. I can’t really explain who mom was to me as she was so many things. She was my mom, my best friend, my confidante, my role model, my example of what a godly woman was. Mom was my insides, she was my guts, my confidence, and one of my greatest joys.
I asked my brother at her funeral, how in the world were we so lucky to be chosen as this woman’s children? To have spent our lives being her pride and joy, feeling her unconditional love and watching and learning from her deeply wise self.
She played so many beautiful roles in all of our lives and taught us so many lessons.
Mom was an amazing daughter and sister. When her and daddy moved to Alaska in 1969 it was hard on her family but it really changed the trajectory of all of their lives. Mom took my brother Danny and I home to Montana every other summer. We were so fortunate to know our Montana cousins so well and have so many camping trips and family reunions in Lake Blaine, Flathead lake, Glacier Park and Whitefish. My grama and grampa came to Alaska every alternate year and we spent many a fishing trip, clamming and crabbing trip on the Kenai and Russian River and Homer and Seward. Mom’s biggest fish was a 52 lb king salmon!
One of my earliest memories was doing interviews with mom as she would make tape recordings of me to send home to Montana for the family. I will be forever grateful for the many family reunions mom helped plan with her siblings…now it’s up to me as the oldest cousin to take up her flag and continue to make those happen.
Mom was a lifelong learner. She was always working on herself and how she could move forward in life. She taught me to be curious, and stay humble. My mom was curious about all things, places and people. She thought there was something to learn from everything and everyone. She was always seeking to understand. To expand her perspective and see the world from all ages and walks of life.
Mom taught us to use compassion and forgiveness as the high road and tried to focus on the best in people. Even the ones who caused her pain. She had compassion for their shortcomings and always reached forward for union with others. Mom didn’t take offense very easily and wasn’t quick to judge others. When someone was offensive or hurtful she was quick to point out that we just never know what someone else’s truth may be, only God knows.
My mom took her “responsible parent” duties very seriously, but she was equally “the fun” mom. Some of my best memories from my youth are the many family ski trips, the 14 day canoe trip down the Yukon river with our youth group and our trips to Victoria bible camp as a family.
I had the mom that would drive me and my girlfriends down the drag in Anchorage Alaska and would scoot down in her seat so people wouldn’t see her. Mom came to take me away for girl’s trips starting my freshman year in college and we had more mother/daughter weekends and spa retreats together than I can count. About 10 years ago she started coming on my annual birthday trip with my girlfriends in Newport Beach, CA. I am so blessed to have had a mom that knew my friends so well and that genuinely knew her.
Mom had a funny sense of humor and her inner child was always waiting to come out to play. She loved having her grandchildren teach her things like funny hand shakes, the Macarena, and the Whip. She was also the first one to take the kids to the store and get all the ingredients for a big batch of slime, to paint some rocks or put together a lemonade stand.
Mom loved to sing and dance and the great part was she danced like no one was watching and sang like no one was listening. She didn’t care.
That smile of mom’s….it was brilliant! I read something once about the gift of “eye smiling”. My mom had that gift in spades. Once she compared her smile to mine… it was such a compliment. We had a habit of drinking champagne whenever we were together. She had a rule that when we toasted you had to look one another in the eye and say “to life” and she would always have that beautiful smile when she said it.
Love unconditionally, she taught me.
If my mom was one thing, it was love. She had it for everybody. It was her answer for everything. She gave it so naturally and freely. There was never a day in my life I questioned her love for me. She showed it boldly and in all the small ways in between. She was there when you didn’t need it, and she was there when you needed it most. She never turned her back on anybody, and the number of people in the room at her funeral was a testament to that.
Mom taught me to speak the truth and live with integrity. I recall many conversations when I would vent to her about something going on in my life and she would just listen. Mom would always ask if I wanted her advice before she gave it. She had an amazing way of giving constructive feedback and helping me see my part of a challenge.
“Try your best to embrace adversity” she told me on many occasions. It can be a gift if we let it be, she taught me. THIS lesson she taught me over and over again.
Just as equally as my mom was gentle and loving, she was strong. She was a fighter. She took on every challenge and she did it with grace. In an email she sent me years ago, during a difficult time in my life she wrote, “honey this time too shall pass. All of life’s challenges are rites of passage to the next chapter in life. They are lessons to learn from. To come out the other side with greater wisdom and purpose.”
Despite some of the ugliness of her cancer diagnosis, I celebrated the 10 months we had with her as some of the most beautifully profound months of my life. For the first time in my life, my mom spent more time receiving our help than giving it to us, allowing us to give back everything she had given and taught us.
Before writing her eulogy I asked many of her friends and family what they remembered about mom. So many commented what a good listener mom was and told me about a time she had helped them just by listening. My aunt Lisa said it really well. When mom would ask how you were doing, she genuinely wanted to know and would look in your eyes and listen intently with true purpose as you told her.
Mom was such a very good friend. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to shift from being a daughter to a friend/daughter. Through this journey of cancer I had the privilege to get to know many of mom’s special friends. Many of them I had met before but not really truly known. The amazing thing about mom was how many of them would say she was their BEST friend. I remember once when Ciara was little she asked “Gramie who is your best friend?” And mom told her she had lots of best friends and there was room for as many best friends as you wanted in life.
She taught me so well how to be a mom and Gramie. I’m not sure Mom could’ve been any happier than when she was with her family surrounded by her kids and grandkids. Whether it was cheering from the sidelines at my soccer games and gymnastic meets, sitting at concerts for choir and musicals or watching all her grandkids with their many school performances and games, I know we would all seek her gaze in the audience.
I personally was never an amazing athlete or the best at anything but mom always told me “you were the best!” And I truly knew that I was the best to her.
Mom has always been such a prayer warrior and has counseled so many about the power of the waiting period for answered prayers. We tried to learn something every day in the period of waiting during her illness and what blessings we could find in the crazy cancer journey. Some of those blessings included reconnections with amazing childhood friends. My brother Danny and I developed a really special friendship during this time, something mom always prayed we would have one day…I am so glad she got to witness that before she died.
I spoke with mom nearly every day of my adult life. Looking back I realized many of our conversations in the past couple years would be her and daddy on a conference call together and I wonder if a part of her knew that we would need to learn to be the connection together when she was gone.
I have a few very visceral memories of mom that I will never forget. One of my earliest memories was long back-rubs and Eskimo and butterfly kisses. She would lay next to me in bed when I was little and hold me and let me tell her about my day. The last time I visited we spent a lot of time laying together on her bed with daddy sitting in the chair next to us. At one point I started crying very hard and she put her arms around me and motioned for daddy to lay down and they both just held me while I cried. Isn’t it funny how we revert back to our childhood at times like this. What a privilege to be able to cry together and mourn the loss of mom with her still with us.
One day shortly after her diagnosis she called me crying so hard I couldn’t understand her at first. Once she calmed down though she told me they were tears of joy because daddy had finally cried. She said “it was a good cry honey.” Whenever I was having a hard time, she would tell me I needed to have a good cry and I would feel better and she was right.
Near the end of her life Mom would say something every day about heaven and all the people she would get to see again. We would all picture my grampa especially, up there waving his arms saying “hurry up Sue!”
Mom left me with so many lessons…To love fiercely, to be always loyal, to forgive everything, to embrace all opportunities, and to love our Heavenly Father with all our being. I can’t imagine what her loss would be like if I wasn’t CERTAIN I would see her again. I know we will be dancing together drinking our favorite Cooks extra dry champagne again sooner than I can imagine. One thing is for sure…I am going to make this time I have left on this planet count!
Our Dream Big Nation Podcast is launching this week and this is just one of the many passion projects that has fueled me through my grief!
As you know, we are on a mission at Lisa Williams Co to “empower, equip and inspire 1 Million people to hire themselves!” My prayer is that you can use these stories of inspiration from other entrepreneurs as your online mentors that will help fuel your own journey to “Hire Yourself.”
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