God called one of His finest angels to heaven last Saturday: my mom. She spread joy and lived a wonderful life by all measures and accounts. The intention of this writing is to share a few highlights of her life and pictures for those who are coping with her passing and perhaps for anyone else who is coping with the passing of their own loved ones. Hug those you love as often as you can and let them know daily that you love them. I will never stop loving my mom and I cannot wait to be reunited with her once again in heaven. I already miss her terribly in my little rented space in this place. For those of us fortunate enough to have known her, her generosity, laughter, tenderness, faith, kindness, and love will never be forgotten.
My mom was born around the time of the 2nd World War, on August 24, 1941, and she went to meet our Maker on February 12, 2022. The eighty years in the dash on her tombstone were marked with much love for everyone who knew her.
Her father was a university professor who had earned his Ph.D. in education and her mom was a homemaker. She had three siblings: a brother and two sisters. For a time, they lived in Dekalb, Illinois as he had a position with Northern Illinois University. Her brother served in the Vietnam War and his early and very unexpected passing in 1978 was extremely hard on our families. My memories of him included him calling my sister Jen “Jennabe” and lots of joking around. After my mom graduated from a university, she worked as a Spanish teacher in a high school. She loved practicing her Spanish and often watched Spanish soap operas and read Spanish papers to keep up.
My mom married my dad in January of 1967. Over the next 55 years, their love for one another grew tremendously, serving as an example to my sister Jen, two brothers Mike and Dan, me (Steph), and in later years our spouses (Jeff Nance, Heather Powers, Tina Powers, and Keith Thomason). Both instilled a hard work ethic and an appreciation for laughter, love, and gratitude.
When we were young, my mom stayed home with us while my dad worked. She spent much of her free time reading multiple daily newspapers, numerous books (especially biographies), and cleaning our home. Our home was always very clean, thanks to her diligent efforts.
We moved from Aurora, Illinois to Boca Raton, Florida in 1985. My dad still resides in the house that they bought in 1996. That house contains many memories of our family, relatives, and friends sitting in a circle in their family room and sharing stories of our day. My mom would often laugh so hard that tears would stream from her eyes. She loved good times with immediate and extended families and friends like Patty and Lorraine.
She also was very generous with her time. While I was studying for my own Ph.D., she watched my first-born son. We moved to a town near Tampa, Florida, when I accepted a position at the University of Tampa in 2007. In the first year, she traveled by train weekly to help me and my husband by watching our very young kids. She was a very selfless woman.
Since my beliefs in Christianity have grown much stronger in recent years, I often shared my blogs and books on Christianity with her, which she sometimes read or maybe skimmed. She assured me before she lost her ability to talk that she believed in Jesus Christ and that she “wouldn’t dare” not believe in God. That gives me great comfort now as I know she’s in His embrace in the midst of paradise. She’s probably laughing with her brother, his daughter, my grandparents, and other relatives who’ve left this world for the next. I couldn’t have asked for a better mom than my mom. Her memory will live on forever in my mind. Always smiling. Always laughing. Always loving. Thank you, mom, for all you’ve done for everyone in your life. You will never be forgotten.
Mom and dad with their youngest of nine grandchildren