A special HAPPY BIRTHDAY tribute to my beautiful mom, Bea. Mom, you were the quintessential Active Chick! It was appropriate that I create a business to empower and support women being active not only in nature, but in community. Your incessant caring, your desire and ability to reach out and make a difference in so many others’ lives, was something I absorbed. Your physical abilities were superior to most. Always a supreme athlete- a cheerleader throughout high school and college, you aced every sport. You were amazing on ice skates (!) spinning around and looking like a ballerina. At the gym (where you spent a lot of time!) everyone always told me “I want to be JUST like your mom!!”. I loved hearing that even as I grew weary of hearing it. You loved the water and everything related to it (me too!!). You were the one working out harder than the Instructor at Aqua Aerobics, you easily could have lead the class. I am surprised you didn’t instruct fitness classes, even into your seventies. You could put your whole leg behind your head and do the splits even well into your seventies. I so wish I had inherited your flexibility. Dad gave me my muscular legs and nice feet, but I would loved to have been blessed with your stretchy ligaments.
You were close to age fifty when we moved across the country to Deerfield, Massachusetts. I never really thought about how hard it must have been for you to leave thirteen years worth of deep, close friendships behind because Dad was let go of his amazing teaching position when that brutal new Headmaster was hired. That whole episode of life for all of us was somewhat of a nightmare. Then Dad got sick and none of us knew what was happening. That had to be excruciating for you, so lonely and sad. My heart bleeds for all the pain you endured, the feeling of alienation, the sadness at losing the love of your life. I adored hearing you talk to me about how you and Dad met in college, how he was the President of his fraternity and absolutely the life of the party, the most admired person you knew. I probably asked you to tell me those stories a hundred times. It was important for me to hold that love you felt for Dad in my own heart. He left our world way, way too soon. Then you met Bruce and had the blessing of a second great love for ten years until cancer took him down. Bruce was a gift in my life. His incredibly sharp wit and intellect, his humor, his stubbornness, his zest for life, his love for you and for me – he was a special person and I am beyond able to express how grateful I am to have known and loved him for those ten years. You made many beautiful, life long friends while we lived in Deerfield. Best of all, you and I bonded deeply in our mother-daughter friendship which lasted the rest of your life. The beginning of our deepest connection on that level was experienced as I navigated through the most excruciating year of my life, my senior year of high school.
You learned to ski both downhill and cross country when you were nearly age 50 in Massachusetts. You were so passionate as a downhill skier you traveled internationally to five different countries over the years to ski – all the way into age 80. I admired and adored you. I worked hard to learn to walk as fast as you, a metaphor for my endless attempt to keep up with you. Then I became you in many ways. My boys were blessed to have you as their incredibly loving “Grandma Bea”. You spent one on one time with them, so nurturing and playful. I recall coming to your home and finding you on the floor immersed in legos with Sean or cooking Tobin’s favorite spaghetti with butter. You let them know how much you loved them by your attention and your adoration. You cherished them, and they you. Now I have the role of Grama Judes and it is the best thing ever. I feel you in my heart intensely these days, more than ever. I feel the influence of your love in all the choices I make. I feel great appreciation for all the gifts I received from you. You were the perfect mom to teach me what I needed to learn this lifetime. I am still learning SO much. Your resilience upon losing not just Dad but later Bruce, your strength despite so much loss of family and loved ones, was an example of your amazing courage. You were a powerful role model. I also learned what not to do as I watched you unable to release the immense grief you felt at the loss of your son, my brother, Doug, which I believe ultimately caused your fatal illness. You kept all your grief inside, and it was intense. It festered and became your disease. I thought you would live to be 100, but grief can take us down. It took you down.
Thank you for your generosity over my lifetime. It was because of YOU that I was able to make my dream of having horses come true, and you were right there with me, with a horse of your own, riding and enjoying all aspects of the horsey life along with me. It was icing on the cake to witness you and Bruce getting horses and riding into the sunset of your golden years together. When I was young, you took on the majority of the responsibilities with the horses, but I learned enough to become a caring and responsible pet owner myself. I am grateful to have been raised with all the many dogs, cats, horses, guinea pigs, birds (including chickens), and various other critters we had growing up. You were a supremely loving pet mama and a beautiful example of how to treat animals. Your zest for life, your incredibly powerful love of music (your dedication to teaching piano) is instilled in me. You were adored by your students as their piano teacher for 52 years! Your over-the-top “social”, very extroverted personality, your beauty as you aged (you truly became more beautiful every year as you aged!), your amazing health and fitness, your vitality, are all part of me. Thank you. Thank you feels inadequate but you know how I feel. I love you SO very much.
Happy Heavenly Birthday! I miss you. And I know you are right here. Always. All Ways.