I think we can all agree on two things about Mom, Lil … that she loved to laugh, and that she exceeded our expectations on her longevity!
And those two may actually have a lot to do with each other. We know that laughter is the BEST medicine and mom always took her minimum, and often maximum daily required dosage of laughter right up to her last waking day.
She also inherently knew a truth that I believe comes with wisdom, that there are IMPORTANT things in life but very little that needs to be taken SERIOUSLY. She could laugh at herself and frequently did. In fact, in our last conversation on the telephone she did just that.
My call woke her up and she was disoriented. “What happened to me?”, she asked. Cindy had mentioned that this could happen and how to prompt her to feel safe, so I responded, “Nothing happened mom, you’re in your room. Do you see the family photos on the wall?” She said, “ oh yes, I see my daughter”. I said, “yes and soon someone will come to help you get dressed, and then Thom will come for a visit and take you out of the room for awhile”.
She paused and then said with a laugh, “Well I guess I’m just NUTS!” And we both started to laugh so hard that my husband Jim caught the vibe from the other room and started laughing too.
Mom liked to make others happy. From surprise birthday parties to surprise gifts, to fun family vacations we, her children , benefited from her desire to make us happy. Just one of many stories is from my younger sisters, Julie and Margie. It was a hot summer day in July , about the time when they were in middle school and some vacation boredom had set in. They were out in the yard talking to a teenage neighbor who was out sunbathing. Mom came out with a big brown grocery bag. She, reached in, took something out and hurled it at Julie. The bag was filled with snow balls that she had kept in storage in the freezer from the previous winter. You can imagine what happened next, the unarmed neighbor may not have appreciated it quite as much as mom and the girls did ;-).
Mom was resilient. All of us at one time have commented that mom was such an inspiration in her ability to never complain. She would pick herself up and take charge of her life despite having MS or in the face of the difficulties and adversities she faced in her lifetime. I recall one conversation from when mom found herself middle aged and single. She said, I’m going to travel. I want to go to Hawaii and China and I’m going to date for a while but within 5 years I’m going to meet someone for a serious relationship and remarry. She did all of those things! (the latter, more than once!)
Mom could be endearingly spacey. When she finally got her first cell/ flip type phone, she was caught in frustration trying to get it to respond to her commands. Julie looked up and was able to clear up the problem by telling her, “Mom, that’s the TV remote.” Well who hasn’t done that right?
Mom was creative. She played piano and cello, and brought an artistic sense to our home and childhood. The first house that I remember living in, in Hales Corners had a basement play room. It was your typical cement brick walled Midwest basement with exposed pipes. Mom spruced it up with a hand painted mural depicting the counting nursery rhyme. See if you remember this: One Two….buckle my shoe, three, four…shut the door, five, six…Etc. Did I mention, that mom was a kindergarten teacher?
And, If you happened to be on the Christmas Card list, you may remember her hand drawn cards with our cut out heads attached (an early version of Jib/Jab) that we all loved until the ‘tween years when they were EVER so embarrassing.
Mom was supportive. She encouraged our individual interests and studies and celebrated our successes. From dance, to travel, to horses, to swimming, to scuba, to starting a business she was our cheerleader. I can remember several times being woken up after my bedtime because there was a program that mom thought would inspire me to further pursue a current hobby. I remember getting excited watching Juliet Prowse dance on a late night program. Sadly, the dream of professional ballerina did not pan out for me.
Mom knew when to set boundaries. We didn’t get away with being rude, or lazy. Household chores were always part of the weekly routine with a family of 7. The want ads were on display the year we each turned 16. We WOULD find a job. Although we may not have been grateful at the time, we all grew up to be independent and self reliant as a result.
Mom was a beautiful woman. Lilian Fuss, Kosikowski, Cole, Geisler says it all. She was never long without male admirers or attention. Right up to our wonderful friend and her beloved companion Thom. She didn’t come off as needing the attention, she enjoyed it, but her genuine ability to make her companions feel happy in her presence and her delight in them, drew them to her.
Was she perfect? No, but who is? And today, we’ll forget any imperfections, because we want to remember her and send her on her new journey lightly and unencumbered by heavy thoughts. Let’s take a moment in silence to send her our unconditional love, and know that she is both receiving it and sending it back to us. (Moment of Silence)
Mom was fun. And she loved to Laugh. So, although we’ll have lots of tears today, we’ll soon remember the laughter and join together in that laughter in the memory of our mom and friend, Lilian.