Saturday, June 12, 2021

A mother for the ages

| May 9, 2021 12:00 AM

I didn’t get to see my mother and hold her hand one last time as I had hoped before she passed away April 12, but I’ve made my peace with that.

The truth is, the dementia that robbed her of everything in the end had forced us to say goodbye on some level so many times through the last few years as she slipped away from us.

Two of my brothers who live in Minnesota and their wives were able to spend that final day with Mom. The rest of us said our final farewells over a cellphone pressed to her ear.

The last year had taken a toll on Mom, whose nursing home was closed to visitors for much of 2020 and even sporadically this year because of Covid. I had planned to get back home to visit her in late April after I’d had my second dose of the vaccine and waited the recommended two-week interval. As it was, I got my last shot on April 14 and we hopped on Amtrak the next day.

We had done a couple of Zoom visits with Mom over Thanksgiving and Christmas last year, and even though she could no longer converse and most likely didn’t know her children anymore, it was priceless to see her, even over a computer screen.

Thankfully, Covid restrictions had loosened somewhat in Minnesota and we were able to hold an in-person visitation at the funeral home and a memorial service at our beloved country church. The service is exactly what Mom would have wanted, a small, personal gathering, not too showy or over the top. She had instructed us years ago not to put her photo on the outside of the funeral bulletin, as to not draw undue attention to herself. She preferred being in the background.

Jim Greene, the longtime pastor of our little church, spent time at mom’s bedside the day she passed, and gave such a heartfelt message at the service it still brings tears to my eyes. He’s one who knows his congregants personally, and Mom was no exception. He shared his own stories about Mom, and then read letters each of us siblings had written.

My remembrances centered around a quote on a fridge magnet Mom had for decades: “If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.”

It was the class motto of her high school class, she once told me, but it became the sentiment by which she lived her entire life. She strove for excellence in everything she did, no matter how small the task.

She was there for all the big, sweeping things that mother do. But it's the little things I most dearly remember. A couple of my earliest memories are when she’d stay up most of the night to comfort me when I had an ear infection, or when she worked nearly all night to sew me a new dress for my first declamation competition. There she was, doing small things in a great way.

Her love for us was shown in a million quiet ways, always constant, always true. Mom truly was the wind beneath our wings. It’s no surprise the last words she spoke on this earth were “I love you, too.”

This is my first Mother’s Day without my mother. She would not have approved of all the columns I’ve written about her over the years, nor would she be OK with this final tribute, but her life and love were precious to us, and deserve to be fondly remembered.

She was a mother for the ages, and she’ll always be in our hearts.

News Editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or