18 In Women Now

Women Now: My letter to Mom on Mother’s Day

Mother's Day letter to Mom

“Hi Mom, it’s me!”

Hi Mom,

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and believe me, I’m thinking about you. I’m not alone. Lots of people think about you, talk about you, miss you.

Dad misses you like crazy. How could he not? He misses you and Todd and the life you had together at the lake. He talks about how lonely he is without you. Sometimes he hints at dark thoughts, wishing to join you. I told him the other day that I thought God had a plan for him and maybe it was better to leave Him in charge. We had a good laugh over that because who wants to be in control of all things? Dad, of course.

But you should see him, Mom. He’s better. He’s so much better. Last month when Brent and I were there we spent a lot of time with him at Briarwood. One of his favorite things is to do is go to church on Sundays. They have church services every Sunday in the same big open room that they have Happy Hour on Friday. It’s pretty darn cute! It’s held in the building right next to Briarwood called St. James. It’s for people who need more care than assisted living. They have this tunnel of sorts to get from one building to the other. Dad sure knows his way around there! He leads us everywhere with his electric cart.

Visiting Dad at Briarwood

Happy Hour with Dad at Briarwood with Jesus in the background


My family on Palm Sunday

Brent and Dad on Palm Sunday

On our way back from church, when we finally got out of that long hallway and into the lounge in Briarwood, there were a bunch of ladies congregated, waiting for lunch to be served in the dining room. Dad pulls up in his electric cart, parks, and folds his arms on his lap like he’s settling in for a while. He starts teasing them with his catchy lines. They tease him right back. He chuckles. They all chuckle. It’s so fun to watch. That’s the Dad I remember! While you’ve been missed, he’s been missing, too.

Boy, he’s really in need of your fashion advice! One day Brent and I were picking him up to go have lunch. He was waiting for us in that same lounge. I took one look at this fleece jacket full of cat hair and marched him back to his apartment to change clothes.

He lost so much weight when you died, but wow, it’s coming back on. He’s practically busting out of his shirts! I joked with him. “Are those the Oreos I’m seeing?” He does love his Oreos. He grinned and chuckled that adorable chuckle of his. Gosh I love hearing that!

Battle Lake, MN side street

Almost looks like Hastings, ND in it’s hey day

I was talking to Brent one evening after we’d left him in his apartment with furry Lucy on his lap and drove back to the lake house where we were staying. “I bet Mom would have loved it here at Briarwood,” I said. He agreed. It would be a little like the small community of Hastings where you two grew up in North Dakota. That town was awfully small but the friendships were awfully big. I could see you visiting now with the ladies in the library or lingering over lunch with refills of coffee as you and Dad visit with your new friends. Maybe you guys would go outside and visit on the white wooden rocking chairs just like you used to sit in the recliners, going over the details of the day or sharing memories from the years in Hastings. And then you’d still have all that togetherness time in your apartment where you’d have everything decorated just so. And Dad would be looking great in his everyday outfits.

A rosemaling favorite plate

Caption on this piece of rosemaling you and I bought together: “With all of its glories and all of its faults life is a beautiful waltz.” That’s you and Dad!

You know the really crappy thing about death? It takes you away! You’re not here! You’re in my dreams, you’re all around my house. I see all the things I bought for our Sonoma home with your advice: knick knacks from our trips to Vergas, MN and the Quiet Cricket. And of course, there are all the rosemaling pieces that you helped me pick out at the Norsk Hostfest in Minot, ND every fall. Every room in the house has your touch in it.

I’ve heard people say, “I’d give anything to spend just one more day with my loved one.” Oh gosh, I know exactly what they’re longing for. What joy it would be to have one more day with you. Dad would be there too, of course. You guys rarely went anywhere without the other. I’d gladly share you with him.

I’d savor every bit of banter than you and Dad had with each other. I always told my friends you two were like George Burns and Gracie Allen. Dad would say something bold like George would and then you’d say something that sounded meek and innocent but wasn’t, just like Gracie.

Memories of Mom

Remember, Mom, when I found this nest near the barn? I brought it home!

You and Dad would be sitting on the couch together in the front porch at the lake house. Dad would be in shorts with those spindly legs of his. He wouldn’t have a shirt on because he’d have come in from outside. He’d be at the edge of the couch with the recliner part keeping his feet up. You’d be in your white cotton pedal pushers with a bright yellow crinkled top. When you’d deliver that catchy line of yours, Dad’s belly would be moving up and down while he chuckled that chuckle. You’d both have coffee cups in your hands. Maybe it would be the fourth cup of coffee of the day, but who’s counting? It’s visiting time! We’re visiting!

Birch coat from Norsk Hostfest

The Birch coat you insisted I buy at the Norsk Hostfest

You two made visiting look like an art form. You could teach classes in it these days when everyone is missing out on visiting while they’re silently looking at their phones. But I’m not going to bring up technology on our special day together.

I also can hear how you reigned Dad in. He’d be dreaming up one new business after the other and trying to get you to sign up for it too. That was in his 80s already! One time it would be about raising pigs across the road in the barn. Another time it would be about using that extra land to fix boats for people living along the lake. The time he came up with the idea to build another house on that property behind the barn you said, “Over my dead body!” That last big project, remodeling the lake house when he was seventy-five years old, was the last one he’d tackle as far as you were concerned. You were ready for downtime.

"Everything looks familiar, right Mom? The rosemaling and your teacups and your yellow roses."

“Everything looks familiar, right Mom? The rosemaling, your teacups and  yellow roses.”

He never could quite let go of that itch though, the itch to create another entrepreneurial endeavor in his lifetime. And Mom, it’s still like that. He’s 91-years-old but he’s still coming up with yet another business idea. It keeps him up at night. He got all wound about an idea a couple of weeks ago, one that sounded well out of reach. I said, “Dad, can I ask you a personal question?” He said yes. “When you’d get all wound up about something, was Mother able to calm you down?”

“Yes,” he said softly, like he was remembering some of those times. That man can be stubborn, but you know that. You admired his engagement with life, his never ending drive, even though it drove you crazy sometimes.

Gosh, I didn’t mean to spend all this time writing about Dad, but like I said, you two go together like all good things do: love and marriage, the moon on the lake, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson, s’mores and campfires.

I’m doing well. Russ is great. The kids are great. We were all together on Easter for cottage cheese blueberry pancakes here at the house. Yum. I’m sure the kids have something planned for Mother’s Day. It doesn’t matter what it is: Everything feels right in the world when the family’s all together.

Memories of my mother

Memories of you, Mom

I have to say it feels all wrong that you’re not here. I will be spending some time alone with myself on Sunday, looking at pictures of you that I brought back from the house last month. I’ll have a Kleenex box next to me. I’ll ask Russ for extra hugs when I need them. I’ll get through the day without you. I’m not sure how, but I will. I’m built of strong stuff just like you, Mom. The day we’re together in heaven will be a very joyous one, won’t it? In the meantime, I’ll be here in Sonoma doing what I do and loving you.



Love you, Mom!

Love you, Mom!

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  • Reply
    Cindy La Ferle
    May 11, 2017 at 5:18 am

    Brenda, your beautiful letter to your mother tugged deeply on my heart and brought tears. What a lovely tribute. I felt as if I know you better — and your sweet family — as I read this post. I lost my mom two years ago, after her long battle with dementia and heart disease. I miss her terribly, too, and without both of my parents now, I struggle through MOther’s Day and Father’s Day (but I try to focus more on the joy of being mother to a wonderful son and daughter-in-law.) Wishing you a happy Mother’s Day, dear Brenda!

    • Reply
      May 11, 2017 at 8:54 am

      Thank you, Cindy, and happy Mother’s Day to you too. Living with loss is such an interesting chapter in this book of life. There’s a place that hurts when those two holidays come up. It’s almost half a holiday. My three kids are making plans for Sunday and I look forward to being together. Family life is about growth and change and gains and losses, isn’t it? Blessings to you and yours!

  • Reply
    Cindy La Ferle
    May 11, 2017 at 5:19 am

    P.S. Lots beautiful photos here, too!!

  • Reply
    Karen H.
    May 11, 2017 at 5:54 am

    Beautiful letter to your mom, Brenda. She sounds like a lovely person, and I’m sure your dad misses her greatly. I enjoyed hearing about those towns in ND. My cousin grew up in Williston, and mentioned Minot often. My mom passed seven years ago, and I think of her daily, it does get easier with the passing of time. Happy Mother’s Day to you with many blessings for a joyful day!

    • Reply
      May 11, 2017 at 8:51 am

      Thank you, Karen. And thanks for sharing about your mom. We lived in the opposite end of the state. Hastings is in the southeast corner, Minot was way up in the northwest corner. Many family trips there to see my cousins and the same was true of them coming to see us. We lived on the farm and they lived in the big city (for us it was huge!). Williston has sure seen changes since all the oil business in ND.
      There’s no place like home. Happy Mother’s Day to you and a shout out to your mom and the legacy she left.

  • Reply
    jodie filogomo
    May 11, 2017 at 6:33 am

    Wow, Brenda–you brought tears to my eyes with this one (either you’re extremely talented as a writer or my hormones are going haywire—probably both, ha ha)
    I do realize how lucky I am to have my mother still—and especially lucky to be able to include her in my blog as my 70’s model. Even when we don’t agree on the styling, LOL!!
    Thanks for this beautiful letter—

    • Reply
      May 11, 2017 at 8:48 am

      I love that you include your mom in your blog too. Every time I see a new post I have a warm spot for the fact that you two are close. It’s there every time. Thank you so much for sharing!!

    • Reply
      May 15, 2017 at 12:53 pm

      I too love that you include your mom as a model – I’m 51 and love how you/she style her Jodi! I’m surprised I gravitate toward her style than yours, and I wonder if it’s a comfort thing, a familiar thing; My mom always looked like she cared and felt great, even though, toward in her sixties I could never really get her away from ‘matchy- matchy’ and that was crazy to me since she was always more fashionably daring than me (even with me never being matchy.

      Hope at least some of that makes sense!

      Hugs to you also!

  • Reply
    Marsha Galloway
    May 11, 2017 at 7:14 am

    How can anyone read that and not cry? I know I am. I can just hear your parents teasing each other. Their visiting times are an inspiration to every marriage, including Les and mine. Now I understand why Les likes my Uncle Don so much. He’s just like him! Guess whose crazy idea it was to buy some DQ’s? Not mine for sure. And he is continually coming up with more ideas and I have to be like your mom, “over my dead body”. Yes, I have said that numerous times!
    So glad to hear he is happy at Briarwood. He and my mom are so alike, she LOVED being around people at Warm Beach and especially loved the church within walking distance. Must have been that small town upbringing – everyone was a friend. My mother never lost that. We would so love to see Uncle Don this year. Thank you for your lovely tribute to such a wonderful mom you had! Marsha PS I recognize one of those photos of your family at Grandpa Lars funeral service in Hastings.

    • Reply
      May 11, 2017 at 8:46 am

      Marsha, it’s so fun to hear about you and Les and imagining you in Mom’s role and Les in Dad’s role. I’m smiling at that. My very favorite family pictures are of ones of your mom and my dad sitting next to each other, talking together like no one else is around. Their love for each other was so visible and dear. And I can see Vivian at Warm Beach. You’re right! That small town living made everyone friends … almost everyone! I remember. Hugs to you. I love how you remember them like you do. Once when Russ and I came home from visiting Mom and Dad he said the same thing, “Let’s visit more with each other!” It’s such a good feeling to be more like them! Love you!

  • Reply
    May 11, 2017 at 8:34 am

    Your mom can say hi to my mom, and dad {{{hugs}}}

    • Reply
      May 11, 2017 at 8:42 am

      Oh lovely!!!! I like the idea of them meeting. Hugs to you too, my friend!

  • Reply
    May 14, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    I miss them so much – they were my best friends. It makes me happy to think they are making such a special friend today ❤️

    • Reply
      May 16, 2017 at 12:56 pm

      Oh, me too! Finding comfort where we can. Much love!

  • Reply
    May 16, 2017 at 7:32 pm

    Wow! Your letter was beautiful and truly from the heart. You can tell your parents had a wonderful connection that extends way beyond love; theirs was absolute “true love”. What a blessing!

    • Reply
      May 16, 2017 at 9:10 pm

      You are so right!!

  • Reply
    Peg Burke
    May 17, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    Wow I could have said ‘ditto’ to most of what you wrote as our lives being on similar tracks with my beloved funny dad in assisted living and my mom gone now 1 1/2 years. I miss mom so much and yet had both parents decades longer then most have their parents. Never knew I’d miss my mom so much when she passed at 91 and a half. Thanks for your beautiful share!

    • Reply
      May 17, 2017 at 8:37 pm

      That’s pretty amazing, the similarities we share. I too feel grateful to have had my parents especially at such important periods of my adult life when they became my best friends. And my parents were lucky to have had each other all that time but I know both of them would say, “It’s never enough.” That’s true love!

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