Share It

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What the obituary will not say

Photobucket

My mother-in-law, Karen, passed away this morning.

I was home asleep on the couch (thank you tooth extraction) and Mike came downstairs to tell me his dad had just called. "My mom died."

We both sat there, almost in disbelief, taking in the words as they still hung in the air between us. The windows were open and I was aware of how beautiful the day outside was. I took small comfort in knowing that the day of Karen's death was one of sun and loveliness.

My tears were the first to come. They were a mix of relief that she is no longer suffering and sadness that she is gone. I called my parents, who loved Karen too, and Mike went to call his brother and a few friends. And then I turned here.

I've been contemplating how I would handle Karen's death in this space. It occurs to me that there is so much more to Karen than what her obituary will say.

The notice of her death might mention her multiple degrees. But it won't tell you that the greatest measure of Karen's brain was her emotional intelligence. She loved people and she loved making connections between people. I often joked that it would take 20 minutes to leave a restaurant because Karen would invariably stop at several tables to talk with people she knew -- and she knew EVERYONE.  Karen was the physical embodiment of Facebook before Facebook even existed.

Her obituary will most certainly include mention of her civic accomplishments, most notably her role as the founder of the Children's Museum of Evansville. It was her second greatest passion. Her first was her family. She was quick to rise up and defend her children from the time they were small and she knew no greater role than that of grandmother -- GoGo as she chose to be called.

She was not overly religious, but she was unflinchingly supportive of the fact that we choose to raise our own children in faith. And every time she pulled out of the driveway, she would toot the horn twice in front of an elderly neighbor's house and instruct her passengers to "Pray for Alma Baker."

I will be listed among her survivors, but no amount of column inches in the newspaper can begin to express how much I loved her. She has been part of my life for more than half of my years (that's what you get when you marry young). And she was my champion in my roles as wife and mother. She leaped to my defense on the Blue River when Mike was hollering at me to "look for the V" from the front of our canoe. She paid to have nearly 100 pounds of unfinished laundry carted out of my house to be washed, dried and folded by the dry cleaner. More importantly, in the recent years when our marriage has been tried, Karen stood by my side and reassured me that I was doing the right thing.

There is no way that the newsprint will be able to convey her laughter. It's one of the things I will miss the most. She'll no doubt be laughing from heaven when I say that her first question at the pearly gates is probably "What's for lunch?"

And no paper in the world would print that her favorite curse word was "F*ck," generally used in triplicate when something went wrong.

The obituary for my mother-in-law will not begin to describe who she really was. And I've probably done a miserable job trying to capture it here.

So I'll just leave it at this: Her name was Karen. And she was loved.

Linking this up with this week's Pour Your Heart Out.

29 comments:

Nancy C said...

Beautiful. So very sorry for your loss.

Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El/e/Mrs. Seaman) said...

I am sad with you. This was beautiful.

When my mom died, nearly 20 years ago, I decided to eulogize her. I started my talk with the proclamation that no matter what I told them that day, I would remember more to tell later, and I invited them all to be willing to listen to "Alice stories" forever. I just knew I would leave something important out.

Same thing with my dad, but since he had cancer, I had more time to "refine" that talk.

Oh, how I feel your pain.

Take care of your sweet heart, and I'll be praying for your family. Relief is good, but there is still such a loss.

Annie said...

I am so sorry for your great loss. Your words of her are beautiful and full of the love you have for her.

Rebecca Cameron said...

Amy, Your recollection and words of love for Karen were anything but miserable. This post was beautifully written. You spoke from the heart, and that's all anyone would expect at this time. My thoughts and prayers go out to you, Mike and your family as you move through the coming days and weeks. (And that's a beautiful photo of you and Karen, too.)

kristin said...

I loved Karen, too. What a great picture of the two of you together. Just as I remember her. Thanks for your sweet blog post. Hugs to Tom, Mike, Mark and the kids.

Beth Zimmerman said...

I think that's a perfect memorial! I'm so sorry for the pain of loss. Not sure what else to say right now. Know that we love you and are praying for you guys!

Sherry (citychiconafarm) said...

Well written Amy! The love you have for her shows with every word and your MIL would be proud!! Tears came to my eyes as well as a little giggle about her first request at the entrance to Heaven. My heart is with you and I'm glad I brightened your day a little with my "fresh air . . . NOT" post. ~Hugs~

"The Queen of Free" said...

What a beautiful tribute, F word and all. ;) Love you girl. grace+peace to your family.

Micah and Emily said...

A perfectly lovey tribute. Our deepest sympathies Amy.

E

Elisabeth said...

Amy - This is a beautiful tribute. You captured charming images of someone who obviously meant so much to you, and it's clear her wisdom and humor will always be with you. You and Mike and your family are in my prayers.

CWMartin said...

I think she'd be proud of that tribute, and of you. May Jesus wrap His arms in comfort around you and yours.

Hyvie said...

Your words were touching and beautiful. I can relate to many of your sentiments. My condolences to the whole Magan gang. ((hug))

Stacy Lynn said...

I am so sorry for your loss, but what wonderful memories you have of an incredible lady. Those will be your treasure and the stories will flow in the coming days to tie you all together in celebrating her life as well as letting go.

My mother-in-law was my champion, too. We've been blessed women.

May God hold you and your family in his loving care through all that comes now and may you find his peace.

Angie said...

She sounds like a beautiful person. I am sorry for your families loss.

Just Heather said...

This is so beautiful! I teared up more than once and wished I could have known this amazing woman. Hugs and prayers to your family this week!

kimybeee said...

i just love what you had to say about her, because that is what is real and how you know and love her!!!! what a blessing to you and your family to have had such a wonderful person in your life all these years!!!

Jessica said...

Amy I'm so sorry for your loss!! This is a beautiful post.

Rebecca Jo said...

What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman...

My sympathy to your whole family in this loss

Lisa said...

I am so so sorry to hear about the loss of your mother-in-law. My father-in-law passed in January. You'll have some trying days ahead. My sympathy and hope for strength goes out to you.

Shell said...

She sounds like an amazing woman. What a wonderful tribute.

I'm so sorry for your loss.

Momza said...

holding good thoughts for you and Mike and your family.
~Dawn

Renee said...

My sympathies to you and your family.

Kimberly said...

I am so very sorry for your loss. No words can take the pain away, but know that our thoughts and prayers are with your family. This was a beautiful post. She was so lucky to have you in her life.

New follower from PYHO.

Jenna said...

im so sorry for your loss. what a beautiful tribute youve given her here, and given your readers a chance to know her, and grieve with you. *HUG* This is my first visit to your blog, and what an insight into your heart this is. thank you for linking up!!

Rachel said...

I am so very sorry.

I never did get those MIL jokes... and I see you have a wonderful one like me.

We just received a terminal diagnosis a few weeks ago - and I have no idea what I'll do without her when that time comes.

But like your MIL, you know you've lived well when no one has to lie at your services.

Adrienne said...

I'm so sorry for your loss! She sounds like she was fabulous. this was a beautiful tribute! Stopped by from the PYHO link.

Eternal Lizdom said...

I haven't been able to comment but I hope you know that you've been in my heart and my prayers, Amy.

dbs said...

I really appreciate people who appreciate people. I bet she would be proud.

Mrs4444 said...

You did a beautiful job sharing who she was. While I'm sad for your loss, I'm happy to have "met" her. My condolences to you and your family.