Russ recently took these pictures of me when we were out to dinner at El Dorado Kitchen in Sonoma. He was on the curb taking pics when two women came up the sidewalk. I saw them and told them to go ahead but with smiles on their faces, one of them said, “Oh no. Get the shot. I’m a photographer; I know what it’s like.” I started joking around with them while Russ stuck to the task and kept snapping away.
I gave restaurant recommendations to these two pals who were visiting Sonoma. It was a nice interchange that left me feeling cheerier.
When Russ showed the pictures to me later, I didn’t see myself—I saw Mother. Plenty of people—mostly relatives—have said to me, “You’re just like your Mom.” I’m still not convinced but I secretly wish I was. I wish I’d been paying more attention to her and her way with people. When I go places now in Perham or Dent, Minnesota and people remember me or realize I’m Alma’s daughter, they share sweet stories about her, detailed stories.
She took time with people. She wasn’t in a hurry, never in a hurry.
When I see these expressions on my face, they look like Mother’s spontaneity. But maybe I have some of that, too. I’m more consciously engage with strangers now. When Erin and I were with our client having lunch in Madonna’s chic restaurant in West Hollywood, I stepped away to use the restroom. On the way, I stopped to chat with a young guy sitting at the bar who had great cowlicks. We had a fun conversation about them. When I got back to our table my daughter asked me what I was talking to him about. “Cowlicks,” I said. She looked at me weird and I thought of Mom. I may have not impressed my daughter with my spontaneity but Mom would have said, “Way to go, Babe.”
Of course, it’s easier to do things like that as an older person. I think you’ve told me that yourself. It’s easier to be goofy as we age and not care what anyone thinks.
Mom had a Dad who may have encouraged her carefree ways
While I was serious in high school (she told me later that she worried about how serious I was), I bet she was elflike. She told me stories about spending time—lots of time—with her father. He was elderly when she was young. She was the youngest of nine and Grandpa was older than Gramma by 16 years. He had nothing but time for her. Sitting on the porch, picking wildflowers, telling her stories.
She was a flirt. It wasn’t a gender thing, she flirted with life. More and more, I want to be like her.
When Mother passed, I got out pen and paper and wrote the ABCs of Alma
What follows is something I wrote the day after she passed. I published this in a post back before her funeral and I want to share it again with you. It’s been four years. This gives you a taste of who she was. Enjoy.
My mother is my champion, my inspiration, my everything. I made her promise to never leave me but I’m afraid she’s not able to keep that promise. In her last days spent in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, she has been comfortable and I have been by her side.
Some of you know her and love her. Others of you never met her but if you had, you’d have loved her too. She’s irresistible that way. Her charm, humor, and smile are ever present and infectious. She made friends with every stranger she ever met.
Every day she spent time with her crossword puzzles. In thinking about her, many words come to mind. I’ll share with you this meager list. I’m sure you’d have more to add. We love you, Alma, just like you loved us.
The ABCs of Alma
Crossword puzzle loving Alma
Devoted wife to Donald Alma – 64 years of love
“Girlie” or Alma, she answered to both
Interested in everyone Alma
Lefse making Alma
Makeup loving Alma
Neat and tidy Alma
Proud of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren Alma
Really good friend Alma
Shopping maven Alma
Watcher of birds Alma
Yellow – bright and sunny like Alma
As we move forward may we do our best to love the way you did, Mom. Big shoes to fill, but we’ll try.
Born in Hastings, North Dakota on August 31, 1932
Died in Fergus Falls, Minnesota on March 25, 2015
All my love…