The second reason that November 11, 2009 is important is much more personal. Today is the anniversary of my mother's death in 2003. Six years! And I miss her more every day.
I haven't really said much about my mom and it surprises me that I haven't. My mom was the cornerstone of our family and she always did her very best for all of us. She was a super mom in all possible ways.
She loved children and was a great Girl Scout leader. We did all sorts of fun and interesting projects when she was leader of my troop. She would have made a great teacher!
Mom was a finance wizard! She could do more with a dollar than anyone I've ever known. We were never wealthy, or even close, but we never lacked anything we needed and very little of what we wanted.
Singing and music filled our house when I was growing up. As a consequence I know heaps of really old songs! We sang every night while doing the dishes. The night of Thanksgiving was when we started singing all the Christmas songs every year. Mom was an alto and I a soprano. I thought we sounded great harmonizing on our favorites.
Holidays were always special. There were always decorations and treats for every big holiday and several of the not so big. Mom did an Easter Egg hunt every year until there were no more kids or grandkids to hunt. Fourth of July was often a picnic. Halloween put mom in her glory. She made every costume I ever wore (by hand no less, we didn't own a sewing machine!) Some of them were pretty great. She adored having kids stop by for trick or treating. She got to act as silly as they did. Thanksgiving dinners threatened to collapse our table every year. All of our traditional dishes were made every year, especially the leek and the watermelon pickles, and the menu basically never changed. But who cared, it was Tradition! Saint Nicholas always came to our house on Dec. 6. That was when the Christmas season really started every year. Evry year she made Christmas cooks, including Pfferneuse, which no one ate! There was always an Advent Calendar too. Plus every ornament on the tree was like meeting an old friend. There wasn't an available surface that did not have a candle, a Santa, a sleigh, jingling bells, or something.
Mom's family had followed the German tradition of opening gifts on Christmas Eve, so we did too! Over the years the gift pile only got bigger. Seriously, you wouldn't believe Christmas Eve in our family! I think Mom, personally, kept all the stores where she shopped in business at Christmas. Remember I mentioned that Mom was a financial wizard? Well, one look at the stash under the tree would prove it to you. It always looked like a treasure trove. How she did it, I'll never know. We would frequently go to Midnight Mass after the gifts and loved hearing the Christmas music. Christmas Day was a repeat of Thanksgiving in the menu department. Same meal every year, and we looked forward to it every year and then games after dinner and cleanup. We always got at least one new game and Mom made sure we each got a "toy" of some kind. New Year's was much more laid back. Traditionally at Midnight each one of us put a new penny outside on a window sill or something and that was to ensure that we always have good fortune and would not go broke during the year. (Mom was a product of the Depression, when going broke was a very real possibility.) Those pennies worked too! Then at midnight banging pots and yelling Happy New Year at the tops of our lungs! Oddly enough, no neighbors ever complained!
She loved crafts. She loved listening to records of all her favorite singers (no tapes until much, much later). She wrote letters. She worked as a Cosmetologist after we moved back from Florida to Chicago. She was proud of her family and their interests too. When we both still lived in Chicago, she would come to see any play that I was in and no matter how insignificant my part, she would always tell me I was the best one! She loved sweets. We teased mom every year about having more whipped cream than pie! She would tell the silliest jokes and could make me laugh no matter what.
When I was little I spent a great many days being sick from Bronchitis and other related illnesses. When I was sick, I was really sick. Every afternoon she would get me up out of bed to brush my teeth, wash my face, comb my hair, and put on clean jammies. While I was doing that she would freshen or change the linen, straighten up the bedside table, bring me fresh honey and lemon or tea for my throat, and give me a backrub. Even though I was feeling rotten, I loved that time of day, somehow it made me feel a little better.
Just at the time I was hitting my teens, Little Sis was born and Mom did it all again!
Mom became a widow at 57. At about the same time her health took a turn for the worse. She became truly depressed. She began being besieged by a series of problem with her health that eventually lead to several strokes and pretty much complete incapacitation. The last several years of her life were very hard for her. She hated needing to be taken care of. She wouldn't even try after a while. A point was reached where she couldn't be on her own anymore. She hated it! That had always been one of her major fears, needing charity, or living in a "home". I doubt that she ever fully forgave us for "putting her in there". Little Sis took care of Mom and dealt with all the increasing problems, as I lived in Texas and they were in Arizona. It was not an easy time for either of them.
Ultimately, Mom died at 83. I hadn't seen her in about two years, and talking with her on the phone was nearly impossible and very frustrating. My sister and I planned her funeral together and it went well, even though there weren't many people at the service, the people she loved the most, her family, were there.
Mom had always said "bury me in a red dress." Well, we couldn't find red, but she had a wonderful hot pink dress she had worn to my sisters wedding, so that was our choice. She looked beautiful and at peace. It was the last gift we could give her. She would have loved it!