When my father was dying and we were home for our last Christmas with him, I wondered how my mother would survive after he was gone. I wondered if she would be one of those survivors that passed away shortly after their spouse.
I knew my mother was an incredibly strong and capable woman but I worried that she would be ok. They were a team, but my dad had taken care of a lot, not only around the house but also things like their travel, the bills and his beloved fish tank. My mom was of course horrified of losing the man who had been her constant cheerleader for so many years. She also worried aloud about little things too, like where the birdseed was. My internal worst-case-scenario voice, which was very active then, was running through all kinds of deplorable scenarios that I had no idea how to resolve from two-thousand miles away in Utah, where we were living at the time.
After Dad passed away Mom continued to run her law practice. When we moved back to Vermont, she came up and helped me unpack and set up our entire rental house in two days so that Erin and the boys had a home to walk into. When she retired she joined the Selectboard and did that for a handful of years until it was no longer fun. She has harnessed the power of YouTube to figure out various ways to get things done and learn techniques, including, a way to siphon the water out of the fish tank in half the time and with half the mess which makes cleaning it easier. She has made improvements and changes around the house and set things up so it is easier for her. She travels well and often; by herself or with friends. Hawaii had always been on her bucket list and after a few years of talking about it, Erin put her travel planning skills to work and in 2019 Mom, the four of us and my brother traveled there, where, at the age of 77, Mom snorkeled for the first time and loved it.
Since my father passed away, Mom has battled breast cancer and had both her knees replaced. Through it all she has found solutions and remained strong in the face of adversity. She stopped drinking, as we all have in our family, but she did it on her own, alone in the house that she and my dad built a life in and around raising two boys and watching five grandchildren and one great-grandchild pass through the door. She still lives in the house. Still has beautiful gardens.
I am in awe of my mom. I don’t think if I were in her shoes I could stay in a house so full of memories and thrive as she has–a house that is not huge but is not small either. She is an amazing woman and an inspiration in perseverance, determination and strong will. I’m not sure she even realizes how strong she is or how much of an inspiration she is to me and countless others.