Losing our first love

Two of my favorite photos of Evalynn

Two of my favorite photos of Evalynn

Early Monday morning—early enough that it couldn’t be good news, I received a phone call from our stepfather Jim. My mother Evalynn had passed away unexpectedly.

Mom had been in poor health for a long, long time. Two cancers, chronic back  pain, and advanced macular degeneration that left her almost blind. She’d gained a lot of weight, had limited mobility, and was in the early stages of dementia. Jim, who is eighty one but has the mental faculties and constitution of one years younger, provided all of her care.

Given her poor health, we all knew Mom’s time was limited and yet I often joked that she would outlive me. Truth is, I thought she might.

Mom was tougher than nails, one of her pet expressions. Meaner than spit sometimes too, if you didn’t see things her way. I was her first born; she liked to say I was the one she made all her mistakes on. John and Bink might argue that she saved a few for them.

However, there was no mistaking the fact that she loved us all dearly. Our conversations usually ended with “Do you know how much I love you?” or “Do you know how proud I am of you?” And we did—those things we never questioned.

She was, undoubtedly, our first love. It was her face and voice we memorized; her arms that held us. One of my earliest memories is the smell of the sun on her skin.

The three of us are putting together her memorial service and my sister emailed a list of fond memories to my brother and me. I think it nicely captures Evalynn, although I couldn’t help but add a few comments of my own (in italics):

Driving a motorhome and a massive boat as well

Backing up a hitched trailer flawlessly

Teaching us to paddle a canoe (stealth like, like Native Americans)

Always being the first to spot wildlife

Hitting a pitched ball with a bat (far, far, far)

Saying, and meaning it, that we’d never be able to run as fast as she could

Painting, Drawing, Sculpting (making just about anything with her hands)

Designing and decorating homes

Riding Motorcycles, Shooting a pistol

Dancing to any style of music (fabulous dancer)

Singing (even harmonizing)

Swimming a mile (diving beautifully; used to be a lifeguard)

Playing a musical instrument (the saxophone)

Mastering multiple sports (tennis! swimming! baseball!)

Fundraising for organizations she believed in (charitable work)

Baking coffee cakes

Reading in the bathtub

Charming her way out of speeding tickets

Charming most people, for that matter (quite the practiced flirt)

And laughing so hard she’d fall down

Beautifully said Binky. I’d also add that Mom was absolutely devoted to two out of her three husbands (sorry Dad!), adored and doted on her parents Effie and Roy, and never stopped looking up to her older sister Claudine. She played an important role in the early lives of Jemesii and August and my brother John’s daughter Shannon, as we were both single parents at one time. Our mother Evalynn was smart, beautiful, talented, capable and one of the strongest and bravest people I’ve ever known.

I miss her terribly already.

23 responses to “Losing our first love

  1. I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a parent is never easy. Your mom sounds like an awesome woman.

  2. this was perfect.

    love you so

  3. My heartfelt condolences go out to you at this difficult time. Loosing one’s parent, especially one’s mother, is always very difficult.

  4. It is clear from reading this that she lpassed on to you and Jem her strength, determination and passion for life and living. She continues to live within you and Jem in so many wonderful way

  5. I’m so sorry to hear of her passing. She sounds really amazing (and she looks especially pretty in her young photo). But of course she was amazing — she raised you to be the fantastic person you are! She’ll be a part of you and her entire clan forever.

    Best hopes,


  6. My deepest sympathy goes out to you and your family. You are such a brave and strong individual and after reading your blog, I can see where you got it. These last months have been so difficult for you and yet you persevere and continue to share your knowledge and inspiration. May you find peace and comfort in your memories of your mom. I’m sure you do know how much she loved you.

  7. Peace amd Love to you and you family, I honor your loss.

  8. I am sorry for your loss. Deep sympathy to you, your siblings and to your family.

  9. Georgann Casey

    My deepest sympathies rang so hollow for me (you needn’t know why, suffice it to say it does).
    My usual sympathy ‘hugs & healing’ doesn’t seem enough.
    But I really do wish I could give you a hug right now.
    I am sorry you have to go through so much. I really DO know.
    But you are SO lucky to have had a mom that loves you so much. That provided you with such sweet memories to look back on. To have given you siblings to share these memories with.
    I AM sorry for your loss….and I DO wish you hugs & healing. And so much more.

  10. Cristina Thorson

    Gosh, it’s so hard to believe Evalynn is no longer with us. What a presence she was! And will continue to be, though there is no loss quite like that of losing one’s mother. Your tribute to her in this blog was wonderful. All my love to you and your siblings, too.

  11. Like mother, like daughter. So sorry Linnea. You captured her wonderfully.

  12. Linnea,

    So sorry to hear of your loss. I remember your mother fondly when I met her at Jemesii’s high school graduation.

    You are in our thoughts at this difficult time.


  13. Reading this in bed….crying with my girlfriend. ……who is saying….I didn’t even know her….Sooo beautiful L….

  14. Kimberly Lester

    So sorry for your profound loss. ❤

  15. Linnea so very sorry for your loss and a beautiful tribute, simone

  16. So sorry for your loss. Your mother sounded beautiful and full of life and you are so lucky to have so many wonderful memories of her.

  17. Linnea, A beautiful tribute to your mother. So sorry she is gone. Love, Sara

  18. Oh Linnea I am so sorry for your loss. Big hugs to you and I hope you are feeling wrapped in love.

  19. Thinking of you as you have one more major change in your life. Your mom sounds like a force. I suppose I should have expected that! Enjoy the memories that will live on forever.

  20. Dear Linnea, I am so very sorry for your loss. May Angels carry you.
    Love, Deborah

  21. I am sorry, Linnea, such a big loss for for you and your siblings. Lean on each other, share the pain and the good memories. Hedy

  22. My deepest sympathy Linnea. From your description it sounds as though she left behind a lot of people who loved her. In the end, you can’t ask for better than that.

  23. Very very sorry for loss. I lost my mom last year. Miss her so much.

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