Today’s post is dedicated to my mom. She passed away 10 years ago on December 6th and today would have been her 90th birthday.

For those of you who didn’t know her, she was a very special woman. Strong, Intelligent, Funny and Caring. There’s a great poem entitled ‘When you thought I wasn’t looking’, I always thought of mom when I read it. By her example, I learned so much.

Mom was a wonderful cook always experimenting with new recipes. When Dad had a business lunch, Mom would ask him to describe the entree he ordered with as much detail as he could recall. The next night, we had her version for dinner. I can remember watching her taste a sauce or gravy like a wine connoisseur. She would let it thoughtfully linger on her palette and tell us the spices the Chef used ( I think she passed her gift to Corey). I knew we had a big family and Mom would always cook extra for left overs but there were several nights she packed the ‘extra’ to deliver to someone she knew who was sick or for the caregiver of that person because she knew they could use a break by not cooking dinner for their family.

I used to get horrific ear infections when I was young. I can remember lying on the couch with my head on her lap and she would stroke my hair trying to help me relax to sleep and wishing she could take the pain away.

I remember her smile and the way her head would tilt back as she would spontaneously laugh out loud. She had a dry, quick wit. As a kid, she was very strict and would correct me if what I said wasn’t ‘lady-like’. As an adult, she allowed me to experience her silly side. I was taken off guard quite a few times by her humor when she would quip a double entendre. “MOM!”, my tone was that of half shock and half laughter, she would give a little smirk and raise her eyebrows with a mischievous glint in her eye. She’d move her pointer-finger side to side, “Don’t you think I don’t know what’s going on”.

Mom and I share the lineage of 7…I am the 7th daughter, of the 7th daughter, of the 7th son. We used to say that meant we were a “good witch”…we were definitely lucky, especially in Yahtzee! Growing up in a big family with a woman that volunteered and chauffeured all my friends and hosted all my parties, she trained me to have an ‘open door’, ‘the more the merrier’ policy to pass onto my children.

Mom had a deep, private, devoted faith. We used to say, Mom would have her prayers answered because she wore St. Jude down to the point he would grant her anything. She was always praying for someone (mostly for one of the eight of us that was causing chaos). She kept mass cards in her nightstand for all the people she knew. She would say, “they still need our prayers, even in heaven”. I think it was her way of remembering them.

There were many times we were out shopping and Mom would anonymously buy an outfit for a young mother or her child. We’d be at lunch and she’d secretly purchase a meal for a young family or someone elderly sitting by themselves. They only knew about their ‘gift’ when they received their receipt at the register.

When Mom had her cancer and it was close to the end, I remember asking her “how do you handle knowing you aren’t going to beat this? Are you afraid? Are you praying”? She taught me even more. “I stopped praying and God is okay with that. People ask what they can do for me. I tell them to pray for me. That’s an important job for them.” “God didn’t ask me, ‘Dede, what day do you want to be born and He isn’t going to ask me what day to you want to die. So, we can sit here and be sad I’m dying or we can sit here and enjoy being with each other, talking and laughing”. “My job as a mother is over. I think my job as a grandmother and a friend is to be the example, It’s not the challenge you face but how you face the challenge”.

I remember walking out of the trauma ICU towards the family waiting room. I had this overwhelming feeling that Mom was sitting in the corner chair. I could even envision the dress she was wearing. Before I rounded the corner, I silently scolded myself, a’come on Marie, Mom’s not going to be there’…she may not have been physically there but I know she was close by.

Even though I can’t hear the sound of her voice, I can still hear her answer when I question myself. She let’s me know she’s with me every time I see the digital clock read triple numbers (a weird thing we used to do) or when I sit on the back deck with my morning coffee and a hummingbird (mom’s favorite) flys close to me and hovers to say hello. And I wouldn’t be surprised, Mom had more than a little influence in leading Corey to the GoBabyGo Cafe.

Mom’s favorite ice cream was Coffee. I think it’s only fitting Corey scoops out a dish for us to share and celebrate today! xoxo

“When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking,” by Mary Rita Schilke Korzan:

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You hung my first painting on the refrigerator
And I wanted to paint another.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You fed a stray cat
And I thought it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You baked a birthday cake just for me
And I knew that little things were special things.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You said a prayer
And I believed there was a God that I could always talk to.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You kissed me good-night
And I felt loved.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
I saw tears come from your eyes
And I learned that sometimes things hurt –
But that it’s alright to cry.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You smiled
And it made me want to look that pretty too.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You cared
And I wanted to be everything I could be.

When you thought I wasn’t looking – I looked…
And wanted to say thanks
For all those things you did
When you thought I wasn’t looking.