Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

In Memory

My mom passed away this week at age 86. It was not unexpected — but the reality, the finality of the death of someone close to you hits you hard anyway. I am sure that many of you have experienced such a loss — perhaps, like me, multiple times. In the depths of your sorrow, your mind tends to reflect on the immediate past — the disease, the medical treatment, the pain, the anguish of pondering whether your loved one will ever recover — or at least not suffer. I saw up close what one goes through as our most talented medical gurus subject our loved ones to toxic medication, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy with all the inherent side effects.

But my mom would not want us to remember her as that cancer patient — for that is not who she was. She was, in fact, a beautiful woman who led a full life — bearing then rearing four fine children together with my dad, to whom she was married 68 years. The spread of our ages — I am the oldest and 14 years older than my "baby" sister — meant that they had young children and teenagers in the house for a longer period of time than most families — and I think that kept my mom younger than her chronological age. She even liked the Beatles and the Beach Boys when my of my peer's parents thought these groups were juvenile delinquents.

Speaking of music, she was quite talented with a superb soprano voice which she put to good use singing with church choirs. She was figuratively in heaven each year when Easter approached and they practiced then performed Handel's Messiah. Not only was she talented vocally but she also could bang out a pretty good tune on the ivories. Just a few years ago I gave her the sheet music for A Charlie Brown Christmas, arranged as it was recorded for that special. She complained that it was pretty difficult to master but it sounded pretty good to me when she played it.

And she was smart and well-read. Some of my earliest childhood memories are reading the Sunday comics in the Baltimore Sun — which soon expanded to reading news articles without the need for pictures. The daily newspaper was a staple — a ritual that continues with me to this day. I also recall the Book of the Month Club. Each month, my parents would receive a book and would actually read it — it didn't just go on the bookshelf for decoration. Between the shipments, they would borrow books from the library. Growing up in that household, I had to become a reader — as did my three sisters.

About the time I was preparing for college, my dad was laid off and money was very tight. Mom took a job at W.T. Grant's, a five-and-dime store as we called them in those days. It wasn't long before she was studying accounting and started keeping the financial books for the store. As she gained experience and confidence she eventually rose to be the Comptroller for Video Tape Associates — a state-of-the-art video tape post-production company that produced many of the commercials that television viewers are subjected to (embarrassingly including those horrible Levitz commercials).

She rose so fast, achieving such good results from her talent and smarts, who knows what she could have done if she had the opportunity to attend college — opportunities that were opened to me because of the sacrifices that she and my dad made. I have never forgotten that all the success I have achieved started with my parents — they worked hard to help us kids have a better life than they had experienced.

And did I mention quilts? After retiring, that became her passion — and what a beautiful passion it was. Each of us has many gorgeous, handmade quilts that Mom made — saturated with them, in fact — so that she had to turn to another outlet for her quilt pox — and started making small kid-sized quilts for children who were forced to live in the local shelter for battered women. She even talked her quilting guild into joining her so they could make even more quilts to fulfill that desperate need. The kids would arrive with nothing more than the clothes on their backs — but they left with their very own quilt that would shelter them from the cold — both figuratively and literally. I wrote about this in an earlier LAHP and if you would like to revisit that story, click here.

I know everyone thinks that their mom is the best ever. Of course they are all wrong. My mom was the best — and she will be missed terribly. But in a way she still lives on — in each of us kids — we all have some of her talents and personality. We were privileged to have her as our mom for all these years — we will carry her legacy proudly — hoping to touch others as she touched us.

I love you Mom and I miss you.

Life is good even in tragedy — remember to cherish your every moment with loved ones.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com