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.