They say everyone has a crazy aunt. I don’t know if every family actually has one, but I do know that my family has one. Only, I don’t have a crazy aunt, because the crazy aunt in our family happened to be my mother. Now, if you don’t know me or don’t know us very well, please know I say that with the utmost love and respect, really I do. She was crazy in that she was wild and gregarious and did things that made all the sense in the world to her but were often silly or zany or a little bit crazy.
As a child and a teen I often rolled my eyes at her crazy ways. But I will tell you those crazy things are some of the most memorable things about her. She was spirited and full of life. I don’t know that there was a Spirit Friday at Home Street Middle School where she didn’t wear red and white. She always donned the school colors from her scrunchy, to her earrings, to her shirt, to her pants, to her shoes, and her socks. Everything was red and white. *and her zany ways made a big imprint on my memories and fill my heart with love as I mourn her absence.
Truth be told, if you haven’t already guessed it, she was a free-spirit stuck in straight-laced world. My mom was creative to the n-th degree. She could find a purpose for pretty much anything…from peach pits in advent wreaths, to pill bottles for jewelry or camp affirmations, or most anything…those little orange bottles come in awfully handy, there’s about 1000 and 1 uses for them, to shreds of fabric for a baby blanket.
She was thoughtful and bright and she could brainstorm most any issue and offer at least a dozen options for solutions. And she was both wildly creative and incredibly educated when it came to parenting and to teaching. She could approach a student, or one of the three of us to diffuse most any tantrum, or argument or trial. From choosing to walk, skip, run, jump, or crawl from the house to the car if that was an issue, to various ways to draw a picture, or complete a project. I remember in 6th grade, I was in Mr McGuire’s class and we were working our polyhedraville math project. We needed trees. So I called my mom and asked for trees. Now, I don’t know what you might have thought of, maybe a magazine clipping or maybe you would have had us draw them. Sue Camphouse brought brocolli. My mom thought outside the box…it’s part of what made her crazy. She could surprise you with her ideas, or questions, or outlandish requests.
Honestly, I could share a lot about my mom. She was truly remarkable, but I think the thing that is most inspiring is how she valued people. Everyone was important and valuable and worthy. There was no one worth giving up on. I remember when I worked with the youth here at the church in the summer of 2000, Kaitlyn Orr was sharing a testimony and she referred to “bad people”. That was when we had two services, so between services my mom talked to me and then to Kaitlyn to clarify that “there are no bad people, only bad actions.” She truly saw and believed the best about people. She taught me to “look over the other person’s shoulder” to see where they were coming from. She taught me to love like Christ in a way no other ever has. She was a woman of tremendous faith. Please don't think she was just “a good person”. She was who she was because of her faith and I learned faith from her. I learned how to pray. I learned how to pray over the phone. I learned to study the Bible. And I learned how to love people.
She wanted me to look beyond the present moment or problematic action and see where they were coming from, to understand them and have greater compassion toward them. She loved being with people, caring for them, cooking for them, gifting them things….she was truly a people person. And she had a remarkable gift of empathy. She could feel for another person in ways I could only dream of. The morning after Dwight and Josh Heslep were killed, she went down to Back Street Parlor to answer questions and answer phones so Shelley and DeAnn wouldn’t have to. She anticipated what would be needed and helpful before most others even considered it.
Today I am filled with gratitude for who she was as a mother, a friend, and as a person. I am grateful for who she was to each of you and for how your relationship with her has nurtured and enriched my own life and experience.
*Italics indicate I initial wrote this portion but left it out during the service, either because of memory, timing, or flow.
**this is the written manuscript, which I followed loosely. I tried to add back in the pieces I added, but it is not a verbatim account of what I said.