Tuesday, July 16, 2013

In memory

In May, Pat's mom passed away after a decade-long battle with cancer. At the time, I wasn't sure it was my story to tell, my place to write anything about it. And I'm still not sure, but I feel compelled to write now.

Last weekend, Pat and I went to Oregon to attend a celebration of his mom's life and her funeral. I had only had the opportunity to spend time with Sue twice. So in many ways, I was still getting to know her at her celebration of life this weekend.

Many people spoke at the celebration. Coworkers painted a picture of who Sue was in her career-- a talented. driven, and giving engineer. Person after person stood and spoke of how Sue had mentored them, how she had brought them into the company, and of how much they had learned from her. They spoke of her dedication to the job and to the betterment of the company and, through her position teaching at Oregon State and her mentoring of so many, and her service in many professional organizations, the betterment of the profession. But they also said Sue was constantly talking about her children, how much she loved them, how proud she was of them. It was clear that family was her priority.

Neighbors and friends spoke of who Sue was in her personal life -- a dedicated mom, sister, wife and friend. After hearing of her dedication to engineering, it would have been easy to leave with only that picture of Sue, but several friends and neighbors stood to tell their picture of Sue -- a crafter, a creator of Christmas ornaments, a gardener, a volunteer for elementary math classes and a creator of school play backdrops. They said she made you feel valued and important; she inspired you to be a better mom, sister, friend.

Her brothers spoke of her childhood -- raised by hardworking parents, Sue grew up working in the family Dairy Queen. Her mother had been a strong female reporter when such a thing was rare. She never backed down from a challenge and excelled tremendously at all she tried.

Her children stood and spoke about what their mom had taught them -- to be open to the experiences and people of the world, to pursue all endeavors with their full hearts. To put all they have into every relationship. To value the time they have with their loved ones above all else -- to make it count.

And her husband spoke of her strength in the face of her cancer. He spoke to her dedication to her children, her family, and her job. He told the story of their meeting and their courtship and how he convinced her to date him and then to marry him and how lucky he was that he had.

So many people spoke so beautifully about Sue and the ways she'd influenced their lives, there is no way I can even begin to share it all with you. She truly touched so many people.

As I listened, I couldn't help but think about the career I want to make, the family I want to create, the mom and wife I want to be. Sue was an inspiring woman. Just hearing about her life, hearing how she inspired and affected so many others, was enough to make me want to be better. And if just hearing other people talk about her can inspire me -- man, how it must have been to know her, to talk with her, to learn from her.

Before and after the celebration and the funeral service, everyone, of course, wanted to talk to Pat. I stood by him most of the time, but sometimes I stood on the sidelines and kept an eye on him.

During this time, several people came up to me and asked, "Are you Abbey?" It became clear that Sue had spoken of me to many of her friends. One told me she'd been proud of me when I'd worked in advertising, another said she'd liked me very much.

I can't even say what this means to me. Sue was already treating me as part of the family, talking about me like she talked about Pat and Jamie.

As we drove home from the celebration of life, Pat asked me what I'd thought, and I told him I think I really missed out. Sue was an incredible, kind, inspiring woman. And I really would have liked to know her better.



Ech and Will said...

This is a beautiful post. It sounds like she was really a wonderful person and the world is less without her.

Kate said...

This was absolutely beautiful. It sounds like she was an incredible woman, and I'm so glad you were able to go to Oregon with him.

You will be an amazing wife and mother one day. With a mother like that, I don't think Pat could ever want to be with someone sub-par. :)

Sara said...

Beautiful post, Abbey! It sounds like she was an amazing lady...someone who left her mark in other's lives, as well as her own. :-)

Katrin said...

I am so sorry for your loss! She sounds like such a wonderful and incredible person. I have lost my Mom too and David never had the chance to meet her at all. It still makes me sad.

Tamara said...

What a wonderful tribute. Such a beautiful, gracious & tenderhearted post. She sounds like an incredible person & I'm sure she'd proud of what you've written.

Genna said...

I think you put the emotion into this post perfectly. Even though you only net her a few times, it's clear how you felt about her.

Shauna said...

I'm so sorry Abbey! I hope you and Pat are doing OK

Danielle In The City said...

This is a beautiful story! I love hearing how people celebrate those who've left legacies for the rest of us. SHe sounds like an amazing lady.

Dara said...

lovely post. it sounds like the memorial really painted a picture of who she was - so even you got to know her better. I love that she told people about you, that is very sweet.

Amanda said...

I'm so sorry to hear this, but I'm glad you got to hear all the wonderful things people said about her. Jordan's grandpa passed away about 2 months before our wedding. Jordan had a very close relationship with his grandpa, and being at the funeral and hearing all the things people said made me sad I didn't get the chance to know him better, before he got sick. I guess now you get to learn about her through Pat and be glad she did know you and thought a lot of you.

Kaitlyn's Life and Blogs said...

Oh Abbey this post was amaze balls. Sue sounds like an amazing person. I am so glad you got to meet get even though it was 2 times. Pat is a lucky man to have a sweet momma and you to have in his life. :) I will be thinking of Pat in my quiet time. :) again I love this post.


what a sad post but yet sounds like Pat's mom was amazing lady and its good to know she was proud of you right. I'm sure she's looking down on you and Pat daily.


Amy said...

Please give pat my condolences.
She sounds like a truly beautiful, encouraging, and inspiring woman. I love life celebrations, it reflects on the legacy they leave and challenges those that are still here to live a legacy of our own.


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