The Bit Where a Light Goes Out…

Happy New Year!!!

Wish I could begin 2023 with my usual attempt at a humorous and diverting post, but afraid I have sad news to share. My Mum – companion and inspiration for so many of the exploits covered here in posts past – has passed away…

Recent, raw days have been spent clearing out her home. But in the waning hours of what will not go down as a cherished year, I did want to pause and log some celebratory-type thoughts about dear Mummy – and about how particularly in these last years, I’ve had the privilege of observing and encouraging the lifelong joy this woman took in meeting new people, learning new things and embarking on grand new adventures.

(Little Mum in the arms of Grandma K.)

Mum came into the world on a wintry Thanksgiving night in the town of Ashtabula, Ohio, where –

Okay, no. Not going to attempt a full biography here – maybe just a teeny, tiny fact or two before moving along – no need to buckle up.

I do figure those joys I mentioned took root in Mum’s early days though. Her childhood was spent moving from town to town to wherever Grandpa K could find construction work – and if school wasn’t in session (in way more innocent days), an undaunted little Mum would canvas the newest neighborhood with a Monopoly board under her arm, knocking on doors and looking for new friends to play with.

A keen intellect led her to travel to Grinnell College in Iowa at the tender age of 16 to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, and then to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she got a Masters Degree – and my dad!

(Mum and Dad embarking on a lifetime of learning!)

Especially in their retirement years, the folks traveled the world together – sometimes with me along! Quite the adventuresome pair, as you can (sorta) see:

(In truth, the US would be one solid pin!)

The Monopoly board wasn’t needed when Mum came to live in my home town of Burbank a bit more than six years ago. She just dove right into the new neighborhood drill, joining me for outings and events with my good friends, including precious monthly visits with transplanted Bay Area buddies, and holiday celebrations where Mum and her stories was so kindly embraced:

(“Animal House? It’s one of my favorite movies!”)

Being a vivacious lady can have its perks! It’s not everyone who grows up attending Chicago Blackhawk hockey games and then goes on to hold the Stanley Cup during an Allstar Weekend (courtesy of dear friend, Dee)! Seriously – not everyone does! On this occasion, we first posed beside the Cup as protocol demanded – but then the generous (and charmed, I expect) Cup Keeper decided to bestow it upon Mum for an even more special photo op! From that day on, Mum referred to it as her Cup – which she graciously allowed teams to borrow from season to season.

(Mum and her Cup!)

I swear – Mum could even make lemonade out of getting a root canal! In the dental office after having that procedure, Mum couldn’t help chatting up a fellow patient who turned out to be the principal bass player for the LA Philharmonic, and who wound up telling us that one of our favorite composer/conductors was going to be in town. If Mum had resisted that lifelong urge to lob a “hello” to someone we were just squeezing past in a hallway – after she just had a root canal – we never would have known to get tickets for a fantastic night of music!

(“We’re seeing Esa-Pekka Salonen – he’s a Finn, you know!”)

As with us all, Mum did have her share of trials and tragedies. Over a bit more than the last decade, she had to endure the loss of Dad and of both my big brothers. Through her senior years alone, she had a knee and both hips replaced; she broke a leg; and she fractured her spine in a fall. But ever eager to connect, Mum would still summon a smile for those she’d meet, offer an ice-breaking observation and maybe pepper a conversation with the infectious laugh she possessed. I mean, I happened to capture this one occasion – but it was the same happy reception many a waiter would get on arriving at our restaurant table:

(“Hello! Oh, I’m fine, thanks – and how are you doing?”)

That was taken at a hotel restaurant during a getaway we took to Palm Springs a few years back. As I described here before – and what stands out to me now from that trip – is our discussion about checking out nearby Joshua Tree National Park. I’d never been there, and about all I knew was that there were precious few amenities inside the park – just amazing, amazing views. So I told Mum I wasn’t quite sure what we’d be getting ourselves into, but wondered whether she’d be up for a little adventure.

“Always,” the 86-year-old replied.

(I’m gonna go out on a Joshua Tree limb and say the gamble paid off.)

Of course, Mum’s losses were my losses too – and now another sparkling family light has gone out in the world. It’s been a comfort though to have support from my brother’s kids, and from so many sweet friends and neighbors from all aspects and eras of my life, who’ve been here for me without hesitation or condition. I’m most grateful.

To wrap things up, I’ll first borrow from the great English architect, Christopher Wren, and say that if you seek Mum’s monument, look around the pages of this blog where as time goes by I hope her light will continue to cast an entertaining glow. It helps me a little right now to feel I’ll still be able to find her here.

And finally, I’ll steal the toast Higgins gives in the holiday episode of the wonderful series, Ted Lasso – because I feel so blessed on both of its counts.

Tink, tink, tink! On this eve of a New Year, please raise a glass if you will:

”To the family we’re born with – and to the family we make along the way.”

Cheers to all for a brilliant and memorable 2023!

And cheers to you, my Mummy, with lots and lots of love!

Always.

49 comments

  1. So honored to have known and enjoyed some really good times with Anita. She was fun, spunky, full of joy, charming, and sweet as a peach. Loved getting to visit with her on the occasions she was able to join us and privileged to have witnessed the mum daughter dynamic that was so special between you. We raised a glass to her on Christmas eve and our memories of her will always be treasured.

    1. Oh my, thank YOU so much for such kind words and for making Mum feel so welcomed – can’t say enough that it just meant the world! Appreciate the toast and will look forward to seeing you soon. Happy New Year, dear Pam!

  2. Moira Lowe · · Reply

    Such a beautiful tribute to your sweet Mum, Amy. No doubt your adventures together were precious memories for you both. Your mum is an inspiring example of how to live life to the fullest. I will do my best to be more like her and offer a friendly “hello” – not easy for this East Coast girl, lol! Sending you lots of love and hugs. Thank you for sharing this beautiful piece with all of us. xoxo

    1. Thank you so much, Moira for those kind words! Love to you and best wishes for a Happy New Year!

  3. Nothing but love for you both

    1. Thank you, Art – the same to you and yours!

  4. Dear Amy, I am so sorry to hear about your loss. What a beautiful tribute you wrote that is so well-deserved. I have nothing but wonderful memories of your mom. I am glad you were able to have so many wonderful adventures together. Sending you love and light!

    1. Thank you, Parcae, so much! I’m so glad you knew her back in the day. Thanks for those kind thoughts, and much love to you!

  5. Jonathan Spencer · · Reply

    Amy – I can say without any doubt that your mom was a delightful force in this life. I only knew her a brief while back in our Cal & Ashland days, but I feel that I knew so much more about her from your wonderful, life-affirming stories in these very pages. When I saw the title of this post, I knew instantly what must have occurred. I am sending you much love and warm memories and I look forward to the echoes of your mom in the stories yet to come. Sincerely, Jon

    1. Thank you, Jon, for your lovely thoughts about Mum from back in the day and for being a gentle reader about her here for all these years – means so much! Best wishes to you!

  6. Carol Coe Pugh · · Reply

    Beautiful words,Amy. What a life she lived! May we all share her joie de vivre.
    Sending you much love. ❤️❤️❤️

    1. Thank you, Carol, so much. A Happy New Year and lots of love back to you!

  7. That was a nice tribute to your Mum, Amy!

    1. Thank you – just wanted to share her.

  8. I’m so sorry to read this. I lost my mum just over a year ago so I can recognise where you are. Heartfelt condolences.

    1. Thank you so much – and my condolences to you on your loss. Best wishes and all good memories.

  9. lovely tribute

    wishing you all the best for 2023

    1. Thank you very much – and to you as well!

  10. Such a great tribute to your mum 💝

    1. Thank you – it’s been so nice to share her story.

      1. 🙏💝🙏💝🙏💝🙏💝🙏

  11. My deepest condolences. This is a wonderful post for her.

    1. Thank you very much. Means so much for others to get to know her!

  12. She obviously lived a good life and was loved, You celebrate her life wonderfully xx

    1. Thanks so much – I so appreciate your reading her story.

  13. A great tribute to a great lady and mother. In every photo she is so full of life we can feel it.

    1. Oh my goodness, thank you – so glad that light she had comes through!

  14. Such a loss! I lost my mom this year too. I am glad though your mother got to live her life to the fullest and spend her last years with such a fine daughter. I will miss reading about her!

    1. Thank you so much – and sorry to hear of your loss. Best wishes to you, and thanks too for reading here about Mum’s and my adventures.

  15. Mike Jackson · · Reply

    Dear Amy,
    I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Your Mum came across in your posts as an incredible person. Please accept my sincere condolences. I also know what it is to feel sadness and grief. Both my parents died when I was working overseas, so had seen them when I returned to the UK on annual leave. Some years back I blogged about both of them. Doing so brought back wonderful memories. And once the sadness and grief have subsided, you are left with those wonderful memories that you have already begun to build through your blog. And as you spend many hours looking back, you have already started that process of healing through your wonderful tribute to your mother. Happiness is spawned from sadness, and you will carry those happy memories for years, and build on them, no doubt, through your blog. More power to your pen! Once again, my condolences to you and family, and to anticipating more stories here about your fascinating parents.

    1. Oh thank you so much for reading about Mum, and for sharing your experience and advice – much appreciated, truly. Best wishes to you!

  16. There are no words to ease your grief. The only warm memories and time will heal the wound.

    1. Yes, know it will take time… And I appreciate your reading and sharing your thoughts. Thank you!

  17. Karen Z. · · Reply

    Dear Amy – My deepest smypathies to you. I trust that your mum’s light will brighten the stars in the sky as her smile reigns down upon you. Much love.

    1. Thank you, thank you, Karen Z – love and all good wishes to you!

  18. Amy: there can be no question that you’ve been a devoted daughter and from what you’ve generously shared in your blog I know the love was reciprocated! Sorry for your loss.

    1. Thank you very much – that’s so kind. It’s been a joy to share our adventures!

  19. So sorry to hear of your sad loss, Amy.

    1. Thank you ver much – and appreciate your taking the time to get to know Mum!

  20. What a wonderful tribute. I am very sorry for your loss.

    1. Thank you very much! And thanks for reading about dear Mum too – truly appreciate it.

  21. Oh Amy, I am so sorry! I know what an incredible loss this is…
    I will always remember your Mum’s contagious laughter and beautiful, encouraging, adventurous spirit.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you always.
    Love and blessings,
    Cara

    1. Thank you so much, Cara. Mum saw and enjoyed many a performance of yours back in the day! I so appreciate your prayers and happy recollections!

  22. Dear Amy, I’m so sorry (and saddened) to read of the loss of your mom. What a blessing it has been to read about the trips and sports events you have shared over the years, and all the fun you’ve had together. Please know you are in my thoughts and prayers. Janet

    1. So kind of you, Janet – thank you so very much!

  23. Oh Amy, I’m so sorry. Someone so full of life, it is hard to lose them, and of course with your mother it must be excruciating. I’m sorry this past year was tough and oh how utterly painful to clear out her things. But I know how much life she still shines here on earth, just by this post and the stories and the photos. Great stories. Good luck to you and thanks for this great post.

    1. Oh my goodness, thank you so much for your understanding and for your inspiration! Kind readers – and kind hearts – like yours make this sad path just a bit easier to tread.

  24. These words caught my attention. Thanks Anita

    1. Thanks for reading! I’m so pleased to get to share her life with others.

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