Thank You Mom

December 12, 2020

Thank you Mom

Today’s a pensive day for me. It’s the first anniversary of my mother’s passing. Since her death was the first I’ve experienced of one of my close family members, I’m not exactly sure how I should feel. I suppose I could dwell on spending the last few hour and minutes at her bedside, the grief and sadness that followed, or the emotional and psychological turmoil of trying to put the experience into perspective. However, after thinking it through, I’d much rather focus on what my mother meant to me and how grateful I am to have been her son.

Looking back, I’m struck by all the little details of things she did. Things that at the time seemed small or insignificant, but were the defining qualities of her character, and would greatly influence who I would become.

My mother, Nancy Ann Brady was an amazing woman. After her own mother’s passing at an early age, she helped raise her two younger brothers Joe and Mike. Like my father, she was a schoolteacher who upon having me and my brother, took a few years off from her career to raise us.

If you’re noticing a theme of self sacrifice, that would be accurate.

She was a true teacher – she loved her students, and was passionate about making a difference for the next generation, a quality my brother has carried forward with his students. She taught science, and brought her lessons home to me and my brother. I attribute my interest in science to her (and a little bit to Carl Sagan, whose Cosmos TV program she introduced our family to in 1980).

My mom gave of herself tirelessly. When my dad had not one but two heart bypass surgeries, she shouldered the burden of seeing to his care and recovery while simultaneously keeping an eye on two sons in college or later on, living far away from home. She, alongside my dad served as President and Vice-President of our high school band boosters while Matt and I were in school, chaperoning us along with 100 other people’s kids in school busses to football games, pie festivals, and band trips.

She served as my dad’s right hand in putting together the yearly Boarshead Festival, a medieval Christmas Pageant that my dad directed and produced for a dozen years at our local church. She worked the concession stand at our local summer stock theater, The Red Barn Theater, while her husband and two goofy sons sang and danced on stage during our high school and college years.

She loved to bake and cook. Family dinners, church potlucks, family reunions, and holiday meals were made brighter by her recipes, and who of us could resist her post-Thanksgiving dinner question, “Would anyone like some pie?”

Her personality was lighthearted and jolly. She loved to laugh and chit-chat. Deep down however, she was a very proper lady; a quality that Matt, dad, and I would occasionally exploit with a well-timed joke or off-color comment with the sole purpose of making mom gasp in appalled disgust.

She was patient, thoughtful, and creative. For several years while I was in high school and college, she would prior to my birthday, send blank, pre-addressed birthday cards to celebrities I liked asking if they would sign the card for me. I still have those 14 birthday cards and I treasure them not just for the signatures of my high school idols, but because of the time my mother put into sending them out.

Kind, loving, and supportive, she was always there to listen on long phone calls while we were in college or living far from home. Along with my dad, she volunteered and supported those in need and even helped build houses for Habitat For Humanity. For her giving wasn’t an obligation or a skill to be cultivated – it was written in her DNA.

She was truly an incredible person. Steve Jobs once said, “I want to put a ding in the universe.” Looking back at my mom’s life, I believe she did just that. She touched lives, brought happiness and joy, and made the world a better place. My dad, my brother, and me owe more than we can ever express to her. Thank you mom, for all that you were and all that you continue to be to me. 🙏🏻

On this day, one year since her passing, this is how I choose to remember her life.

“The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.”

– Brandon Lee

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