My dad asked me to speak about the influence my mom has had upon my life.
She gave me the Gift of Creativity:
In our home, my mom was a creative force. She had so many talents. She sewed, played the piano, created mosaics, painted, and designed. For years, she took painting classes. On many afternoons, when my brother and I returned home from school, we would smell oil paint, and she would be in the kitchen. The floor was always covered in plastic, and her easel was faced to catch the light from the kitchen window. She was grouchy when she painted. But, now I understand. I'm a working ceramic artist. I don't know how she could ever concentrate with us in the house. I have to work in a quiet studio, with no interruptions. She always encouraged us to make and do. And, there were always materials on hand, so that we could create.
She gave me the Gift of Willfulness:
My dad always said that my mom was Vic Jones' daughter, because of her stubborn streak. I, too, am very stubborn. But, with my mom, I like to think of her having great inner strength. She was diagnosed with leukemia when I was 23 years old. I remember the doctors telling our family that she had five to eight years to live. Her willfulness is the reason that she was able to see her grandchildren get married, and to have their own children. I think that all of us have her DNA in this regard. We give our best and we try our hardest.
She gave me the Gift of Devotion:
My mother prayed nightly. I always remember seeing her on her knees by the side of her bed, when I was a little girl, and throughout my teenage years. She was always a good example of having a personal relationship with her Savior. And, her prayers were full of gratitude for the many blessings that she had been given.
She gave me the Gift of a Sweet Tooth:
My mom loved candy, desserts, and sweets. There were always covered candy dishes throughout the house. When she was in the hospital and the care home, though her appetite flagged, she would never miss dessert. I loved helping her fill out her menu requests, because she always picked the dessert choice so carefully and deliberately. At Christmas, she made the best candy cane cookies, English toffee, and cinnamon marshmallows.
She gave me the Gift of Travel:
My mom loved to travel. She visited many countries in Europe and Asia. And, she always enjoyed shopping abroad. I think that it secretly gave her great pleasure to explore other places and to see new sights, as a farm girl from Nephi, Utah. When, I was cleaning out my childhood bedroom last Spring, I found all of her travel receipts from her trips, since I had moved out of my bedroom after college. I think that the receipts and itineraries were a way for her to relive and savor her experiences. I, too, love to travel. Having a deep interest in art history makes every place interesting. During my childhood, we had a thick coffee table book of art work from the Vatican. I remember seeing so many paintings and sculptures from that book when I visited the Vatican in person.
She gave me the Gift of Teaching:
My mom was a teacher and a learner. The weekend before she passed away, she asked me if I still enjoyed teaching. She stated that teaching was a job which was satisfying, because you knew that you were benefitting others, and changing lives. I am grateful that I switched my career from Graphic Design and Merchandising Design, to working with children. It has made my life richer and more meaningful.
She gave me the Gift of Independence:
My mom's parenting style was very loose, and casual. Although she was not an animal lover, she allowed my brother and I to have numerous fish tanks. I remember when my brother built a pen, and we came home to find that she had placed a small white bunny in the cage. We rode our bikes everywhere, and did things on our own. We all learned to make mistakes and solve problems on our own. Sometimes this was difficult, and I felt like I needed more support. But, as an adult, I look at all of us, and I see that we are good people. We don't give up, we keep on going, even when life is tough. She gave us that, and I'm grateful.
I love my mom, and was able to tell her so. The night before she passed at home, I held her hand, and stroked her hair. She was non-responsive, focusing all of her energy on trying to breathe. When I kissed her forehead, and said, "I love you so much, mom," she opened her eyes briefly, and mouthed "I love you so much, goodbye." Just this small gesture was such a sweet gift to me.