My new blog series focuses on people whose stories are not quite as straight forward as others. Those who have struggled or had a rough time or who are remembered for things that are only just a tiny fraction of who they were. And those of us who knew their story sometimes want to tell everyone about it. Tell them who they were and the amazing things they did. The things they loved and the things they were good at.
And not every hard story deals with drug addiction or alcohol or a disability. Sometimes people are remembered for the diseases they had or the fact that they were so young when they died. And even if that’s true, it is just a sliver of what they were.
My friend Megan is in her 30s. She is the owner of Children’s House Montessori, the school my kids attend. She has a son and a step daughter and her husband owns a tree trimming business. And we get to hear about her mom:
Margaret was a librarian, a professor, a mom, a wife, a grandma, a daughter, a friend. She also died too young of a rare form of cancer.
My mom was born in Alaska but grew up in Southern California. My grandpa said she was always willing to help him…paint the house, garden…she loved being outside riding her bike and roller skating.
She was strict I guess but she was also a lot of fun, too. We played outside a lot and she would take us to the beach in the summer when we lived in California. We had to keep our rooms clean…she would threaten to come through with a big garbage bag…but she never did. She liked all of our friends and even if she didn’t, we never would have known.
I have five siblings. My two oldest brothers, Cel and Carlos are 1/2 brothers but my mom and dad raised us as siblings not worrying about half or full. There is also my brother Jeph, sister Leah, and my brother Sean. Cel died a few years ago. We’re all pretty close.
Really, it’s mostly all the little things. Her being silly and pretending to sing opera, her little comments about things that I thought she didn’t know about but had totally figured out…
Her smile. Her hands. She never really thought of her physical beauty or was vain. She was very practical and took really good care of herself. She would wash her face each night with just warm water and a wash cloth.
This is difficult to answer because I miss so many things about her. I suppose my most favorite thing was her mind and the way she viewed the world. She read a lot and was always seeking knowledge. She was extremely generous, but secretly. She never sought recognition.
My mom found a lump in her neck in the summer of 2003? I am terrible at years. I was living in Chicago working as an actor and my parents had come to see the show I was in. We had a lot of fun seeing the city together and I loved that they stayed out late, went to great restaurants and bars and the museums. They had a good visit and I remember the casual way they told me she was going to have this lump biopsied. It was scary but she seemed so healthy and happy. I ended up leaving Chicago because the biopsy showed that she had a sarcoma (soft tissue cancer). I didn’t want to be so far away and my acting contract renewal was pretty binding and it would have been difficult to leave. She had some pretty scary surgeries and things seemed to progress pretty quickly.
My parents decided that she should go to MD Anderson in Houston for treatment. I learned there that her sarcoma was very rare. I had the opportunity to go with her and we lived together in a hotel room from July until Christmas Eve. During that time I admired her dedication to her work. She worked every day teaching online. She also believed in going outside every day, no matter what.
My mom taught children’s literature at LCSC so she was constantly reading young adult lit and children’s books. She read a lot, every day. She didn’t watch a lot of TV but we would watch Law and Order and cop shows sometimes. She liked movies, usually old musicals, comedies…she didn’t like scary movies.
I am thankful that she taught me to be a good mother. She taught me to love to read and how to camp.
I miss her so much that I seek out her presence. I feel it when I am teaching or singing with the kids. I see her in Noah (Megan’s son) especially when he is reading or excited about a book.
I don’t know what she would tell me know. I wish so much that I could talk to her. I need her advice and ideas every day. She would probably remind me that I know what I’m doing.
I don’t know if people know how much she gave and how much she thought about them: her friends and students and colleagues…our friends and children. She was so worried about everyone. She was a very private person and did not express herself often in words. A lot of people might not realize that she was working right up until her last day. She was planning and checking in on things for her students. I think that is one aspect I struggle with so much. She did not want to go. She wasn’t finished. I know there is no answer to “why” and some people will say it happened for a reason. All I know is that I miss her every day.