Countless times in recent months I have been told that I’m amazing, that our family is wonderful, and that we are just plain awesome. These are very kind words and I absolutely agree, of course, that my boys (hubby included) are fantastic. But me? I’m a mom. Truly I’m flattered, but I think most parents of uncommon kiddos would do everything in their power to help their children.
For those of you who shake your head and insist that I’m exceptional, the only explanation I can offer is that I only aspire to be one tenth as extraordinary as my mom. Today is her 77th birthday. It seems impossible, but it’s been over three and a half years since her departure from this earth. She is missed. Every. Day.
For some reason, I like the facts. Reading her obituary daily for months gave me a strange comfort. Perhaps it helped reality sink in. It read (in part), “Golda E. Hughes, 73, died at 7:18 p.m. February 28, 2010, at St. Rita’s Medical Center [Lima, OH]. She was born September 27, 1936, in Auglaize County, to Carl and Sarah Anspach Keith, who preceded her in death. On June 30, 1957, she married Dennis G. Hughes, who survives in Alger. Mrs. Hughes was a homemaker and had been a teacher at Gomer High School, Gomer, where she taught business and English. She had also been bookkeeper for the Pizza Planet, Bellefontaine. She was a member of Alger First United Methodist Church, where she served as secretary of the administrative board for several years and was a member of its United Methodist Women. She was a 1954 graduate of Alger High School and received her bachelor’s degree in 1958 from Ohio Northern University, Ada. She was a 4-H adviser for more than 30 years with the Alger Willing Workers.” It went on to list survivors, which I thought particularly apt at the time since “surviving” just about sums up all I did for six months or so after her passing.
But I’m not writing tonight about the crushing void one feels when her very best friend is suddenly gone. Because that period ends, and I want her warmth and spark to endure. An obituary obviously can’t cover all the details, such as the way she treasured her grandchildren. (I suppose that’s common really, but the euphoric delight that radiated from her smile when she looked at them filled a room!) It doesn’t mention how much she loved books, movies, and clothes. That she adored buying gifts for those she loved. How her Avon lady was one of her best friends, and how my sister and I later found an impressive stash of new jewelry obviously meant for us, my niece, aunts, and cousins. How she used to be such a wonderful cook/baker. How she loathed politics and lemon desserts. That she struggled daily with the debilitating effects of the Polio she contracted as a teenager. How she laughed the loudest at the most inappropriate jokes. That she sang or hummed constantly. How she cried at sappy commercials. That she was both a dedicated church lady and someone who once beat a groundhog to death with her cane. And it could never, ever begin to describe her fierce five year battle with the cancer that eventually took her life.
She was one of God’s own saints on this earth and a wise counselor to her sisters and friends. She had a priceless way of listening that made you feel valuable. And, although she is missed, she is always with us. I only have to look at my sister, my niece, my aunts, or the mirror to see her face. All five of her grandchildren carry a piece of her heart. And our sweet Joel has her eyes. Love never ends.