I imagine you as a girl. A devoted daughter, a peace keeper, a rule follower with a bit of a wild streak. A young lady who loved to play with friends and probably a little boy crazy too. Singing silly cheers (the forest city colts are going mighty far!), but loyal to the cause, always supporting the team. As a young woman, I imagine a bright, confident person-but not too, of course. I imagine you were someone who was willing to take the risk and go out on her own to college-falling in love and then ultimately, doing what was expected, and going back home-but still pushing the envelope by staying away in KY just a tad longer. I imagine you quickly meeting friends that would last a lifetime. There were good times and good friends that will always be there. Those years probably passed quickly and marriage came shortly after college as it did for so many. At the time it was just considered normal to follow your husband's job and make a life where the work was. So I imagine you bravely moving far away to start a new life with new people and fitting right in with volunteer work, bridge, and fun times in a new city. And, of course, beginning a family and making a home. I imagine it was difficult after working to build a life to make another move and then a transition came that would bring you back to the old Fort. I imagine that that was handled with patience and fortitude to make a foundation for your family and the poise needed to move to a new city where "everyone knows everyone". I'd imagine there wasn't wasting any time in getting acclimated to the social scene and involvement in church. No one would guess you weren't from here, you know everyone's maiden name!
Life probably, I'd imagine, threw you some twist and turns that you couldn't have expected even with two sisters. Having three girls would be hard enough-but us.... one more stubborn than the previous, all knowing exactly their place and their worth in the world. I remember the message, "you can be whatever you want to be." I imagine you shake your head because sometimes our viewpoints appear to be so different from your own. But remember even if our perspective is different, you should feel proud that we think independently, thoughtfully and from experience.
Know that you were present, you were stable, you were hope, and above all else, you were love. And those things still hold true today.
When we were a little bit older it may have been time to take a breath, but you went back to school and started a new chapter with a new degree and a new career path- wading your way through a different world than when you left it, but navigating it brilliantly and effortlessly. I imagine it probably wasn't that way, but you made it look like it was. There was always dinner at 6:30 (how did you do that?), a ride to wherever, and stuff just got done. I imagine a woman who valiantly fought for her family and made the decision that she would chart the course of her own destiny.
I imagine you probably didn't think of it this way, but you weren't going to be defined by your past or your children or a job title. You became a pillar of strength. I can't imagine losing a mother, a sister and a best friend. These tragedies could be life defining, curl up, put the curtains over the windows, give in to grief moments-but they never broke you. Your resiliency-astonishing, your strength-admirable. I imagine it made your resolve stronger in building bonds with other women in church and reconnecting with old friends.
I imagine this decade will bring, as life does, other things that can't be predicted or planned but it won't keep you from being your authentic self. A woman to be revered and respected. A mother, a grandmother, a wife, a mentor, a friend.
I imagine it would have appeared that we may not have been paying attention to your wants and needs, so focused on ourselves and what we wanted from life. But we were paying attention to your strength, grace, your kindness and compassion, your willingness to help others, and always, your politeness and generosity to all. Because frankly you are "it" for us. Our everything, Our Mother.