Monday, June 8, 2009

My mom's memorial on Saturday

With my sister and my mom's Tree. It is right next to the Laundry/Gift Shop at the "new" campground within Pocohontas State Park. In the near future a plaque will be placed in front of it. Hopefully this can coincide with getting a bench or picnic table that will sit right below the tree.
Starting to congregate before the service. The man in the matching blue shirt/holding the dog, Gilligan, is Tristan. Tristan's dad is the gentleman with the red striped shirt essentially above Gilligan. Talking to Tristan's dad is Cindy's boyfriend Jason. Right in front of Cindy is Louise's Mom. My mom liked Louise's mom and I know they shared books and formed their own little book club.

Various Park staff and volunteers before the tree planting. Everyone was so nice and supportive. I can completely understand why my mom was so happy at this park. It is a beautiful park filled with very kind and friendly people.

After the memorial, you can see Tristan, his Dad, Loiuse (in the red shirt and red pants to the right of Tristan's dad as well as Jason and Cindy).

Okay, so this is a confessional picture. We have recieved so many nice flowers and plants from friends, co-workers and relatives. Unfortunately our household is filled with creatures that may not that well behaved. Here you can see Powder Puff girl chomping on some flowers from my friend (and my mom's friend) Margaret and Jackie. Unfortunately Powder now had all sorts of yellow pollen that has stained her head, around her eye and at random places on her body. Even worse is that the pollen does tranfer rather easily to others, so I now have a yellow chin!
As for the other very nice flowers, bouquets and plants, we have saved their lives by sharing with my sister (whose cats apparently are better behaved then ours), with the Pocohontas staff as well as her good friend Louise & her mom. I know this is what my mom would have done...share with others to brighten their day.
This past Saturday, my mom's friend Louise arranged a really nice tree planting memorial service at Pocohontas State Park, south of Richmond VA.
Saturday morning, Tristan and I participated in "National Trails Day" to honor my mom's memory. She would have been impressed by the blisters and sore arms we both earned doing this event and now Tristan and I have added to our matching t-shirt collection (which as a full fledged card carrying dork I make Tristan wear now and again to match).

After cleaning up a bit, we drove to Pocohontas State Park to meet up with Cindy and her boyfriend, Jason, as well as Tristan's Dad for the tree planting.

Cindy and I were so touched and suprised to see so many of my mom's friends from the park at this fairly impromptu memorial service.

My mom's friend, Louise said such nice things about my mom including reflecting on how my mom was a camp host who gave 100% and always was really friendly. She spoke about a trip they took together in which my mom had to create a bit of real estate for Louise to sleep in (I have the same pack rat problem my mom does, but like my mom, I'm always ready to push things around to create a sleeping place:-).

My mom shared so much of herself with everyone. She was so generous and kind and always made sure to invite everyone along for everyone of her adventures. While many times she did not have any takers (which did not stop her), many times she would have buddies to do things with. I know of her trips with Louise, her friend Karen from FL, her friend Margaret from CO and so many others. In addition to extended trips with others, she also had so many friends who would drop in to spend a few hours, a day, or a weekend with her. She was always such good company and always ready for adventure.

Of course my mom was also always ready to accept gracious offers of hospitality to visit folks. And I know she visited so many friends with her RV. I know of visits with her best friend from grade school, Marcia; her cousins in Memphis and New Jersey; college friends from Michigan; campers she met at various parks and so many other people and places. Frequently between camp hosting gigs, there was always the question: "Where in the World is Marnee/Marj/Marjorie Wood?".

Only her mail forwarding service "Good Sam" necessarily knew where she was at any given time!

My mom used many different names over her life (hence my confusion when I was sent to the VA Dept of Corrections which I posted about last week). She was called Marnee as a young girl, Marj as an adult and I think Marjorie by my dad and folks from the 70's and 80's. Of course to me her aliases included: Mom, Mommy, Mama, Maaaaaa and Mother (okay I never called her mother, but occasionally refered to her as "my mother").

During the memorial service, Louise also talked about how my mom was able to fly in to see her wedding and how much it meant to Louise (I also know it meant a great deal to my mom). My mom always said the most important thing in life is friends. And one must always celebrate with them whether weddings, births, graduations and even small and big victories. Of course she always said you also must support your friends unconditionally in times of need. My mom was a special lady who led by example.

I know my mom has been deeply religious since I was a child. It was always obvious that my mom had a strong belief in God. However RVing and attending a regular church service sometimes created difficulties. She was very active in a youth ministry that was common in many state and national parks, but I think Louise put it best. For my mom, "Nature was her sanctuary".

After Louise, a very nice park Ranger spoke (his name escapes me). He told a story about how one day my mom's cat had run off and there was a big storm. Apparently my mom called the emergency number and several rangers came to her site to help. They looked and looked and saw the storm drain over flowing. They suggested there is no way a cat is in there, but my mom insisted her cat was in the drain. They looked again still to no avail. Finally one of the rangers turned around and noticed sitting on my mom's truck was her cat!

Then my sister spoke, with obvious emotion. She reminsced about how much my mom loved the outdoors and how kind and caring my mom always was. She tried to tell the story of my mom's hemephredic cat (her cat, Pocohontas, was raised a girl for 10+ years then last fall somehow she finds out the cat is a male!!!)

Finally I spoke. I reminsced briefly about our first times at Pocohontas. This was during grad school and one of the highlights of our summer each year was to visit my mom at the park where we would go on canoe trips at night. We would see beavers (which scared us the first time they tail slapped) and just enjoy a beautiful night in the park. Typically after the canoe trip we would head back to my mom's RV for smore's. It was so much fun!

My final story was about Rocky Raccoon 100/50 miler, the last time I saw my mom when she was healthy. She was so nice and encouraging to everyone along the course. And she was so proud of my PR. In fact I would speculate as excited as I was, she was probably 10X more excited. I think this was even more poignent because she had seen me 10-15 years ago when I had been hit by the car and was rehabbing. She was always so encouraging to me and believed in me unconditionally even when I might not have believed in myself.

After planting the tree (which I totally smoked Cindy, my sister, in the amount of soil I moved), we all headed to a campsite we had reserved for some cake and reminiscing. It was a really nice evening to be sitting outside enjoying the park and socializing. It would have been exactly how my mom would have wanted it. Good friends, yummy treats, a beautiful park on a lovely evening. I just wish she had been there, not just in spirit...


Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Another moving tribute to a mother you obviously loved so well, sister!

When my older sister died a few years ago of lung cancer, we got a bush to remember her by. It is planted in our backyard. Every time we look out the window, we can be reminded of her.

She was a teacher and it was amazing how many of her students, old and current, came out to her service - and then even more, who couldn't make it to the service, wrote moving tributes on her online obituary.

We never know how many others we affect in this world; even less, how many others the people we care about affected in their lives.

Your mother made her impression on many, many people.

Carolina John said...

i'm sure you mom will be greatly missed, and a tree is a fantastic way to memorialize her!

Runner Tammy said...


You always know how to lift my spirits. Your sister sounds like a tremendous lady. Although we are not supposed to generalize, I find teachers, nurses, social workers, librarians (gasp) and many others in the social sciences and instructional professions to be so kind, caring and helpful.

My mom was a teacher's aid as well as a track coach and I know so many of her students really loved her a great deal. She shared the characteristic that makes for great teachers (as I am sure your sister was!): always so positive, upbeat and made sure to make everyone feel special and valued.

Carolina John,

Thank you. I think my mom would love the tree idea because it is so "outdoorsy" and of course it is in her favorite park.