My mother, Maureen English, was a remarkable character. During her 91 years of life, she witnessed enormous changes of lifestyle which she embraced with enthusiasm. As a child, she went to bed by candlelight. In her 80’s she became “techno-grandma” and learned to use the computer. She saw transportation shift from horse and carriage to cars and planes. communication move from letters and telegrams to telephones, television and emails. She was a wonderful, feisty, talkative, full-of-fun, adventurous lady.
A story to illustrate: we had a vacation not so long ago, in Branson, Missouri. A go-kart track was a main attraction for the grandkids. Not to be outdone, my mom, approaching her eighties, joined the expedition. One of my favorite photographs is of her in a go-kart leading the pack. (We don’t mention the fact that all the kids were about to lap her!)
My mom enjoyed 55 years of marriage to my dad. I never once remember hearing them argue. That’s a precious heritage. Always the dominant character in the relationship, she loved and cared for my dad throughout his life, helping him recover from his experiences as a prisoner-of-war on the infamous “Railroad of Death” in Burma and then selflessly looking after him as he became blind in his later years.
Everything with Mom became an adventure. We never went on walks as kids–always on a “voyage of discovery.” We were never short of money–we had “economy campaigns” where we would find the best ways to save and to economize.
I just returned from an emergency trip to the UK. My mom had a stroke from which she never recovered. The Lord gave me a precious half hour with her being lucid. She could only communicate by squeezing my hand, but we said a lot to each other that day, and I was able to pray with her. Her memorial service was last Friday.
My mother lived an ordinary life in so many ways, but she has left a far from ordinary legacy. As I look at us–her two daughters, her six grandkids and her eight great-grandkids, I see that legacy written large for the future. We’ve inherited her zany, off-beat sense of humor, her enjoyment of the ridiculous, her sense of fun, her enthusiasm for life and new experiences, her ability to transform the mundane into an adventure. We’ve picked up her love of words–of reading and stories, of music and film. We have more than our share of vivid personalities, of passion for life.
We’ll miss her. Mom may be gone, but her legacy lives on.