The color blue, vanilla ice cream, and her amazing smile.

Those are three things that everyone who met my mom remembers about her.

Especially her amazing smile.

That smile made an instant impact on everyone. My mother’s smile was her passport into the hearts of others.

As old age and dementia robbed her of her ability to care for herself, my mother never complained. She maintained a brave and cheerful outlook each and every day.  Each morning, her first words were always about how beautiful the day was.

I was the primary caregiver for my mom starting in November of 2010 when my father passed away. Along the way I enlisted the help and support of many people including those serving as professional caregivers, CNAs, hospice workers, and nurses. It was amazing to watch these people enter my mom’s world and be transformed by her sweetness, love and kindness. Even those that were burned out from the stress of caring for others, softened in my mom’s presence. She would give them that warm smile, tell them they were beautiful, and thank them for caring for her. They would leave her presence feeling 10 feet tall and ready to change the world. Even the last 11 months of her life when she was bedridden, she remained the perfect hostess and the most selfless person I have ever met.

She had an unwavering love for her family – always talking about “the children”, her Bob, her mother, her father, her sister Eleanor, and her Uncle Barney. In thinking about my mom, the lyrics from an old Tom Petty song come to mind: “She’s a good girl, loves her Mama. Loves Jesus and America too”.

She  taught me more about life, grace, and courage during her journey with growing old and dealing with the horrible disease of dementia than I could have ever imagined.

I love you Mom. Thank you.

You are a true Proverbs 31 Woman.

Her children rise up and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:

“Many women have done excellently,
    but you surpass them all.”

Proverbs 31: 28-29