My dear friends, Shelly and Mark Kramer, lost Mark’s father this week to Alzheimer’s.
I have no words. The death of a loved one and/or family member sucks. The Kramers also said goodbye to their two beloved dogs, Bella and Sophie, late last year. So tonight, Ron Kramer will rest along with Bella and Sophie in a cozy bed of relief wrapped in wonderful memories of his family, especially his twin granddaughters who visited weekly with Mark.
When I called Shelly to ask what I could do, she told me to call my own parents and tell them I love them. I did so, and am dedicating this post to them and all the things I love about them (by no means is this list exhaustive).
- Mom taught me the importance of education. She dropped out of college to support herself. My dad began law school right after they got married and so she continued working to support them. Once we kids were in grade school, she went back part time for eleven years to get her Bachelor’s degree. Then she got her Master’s in social work from Tulane. GO, MOM! Never set aside your dreams.
- Mom taught me about being kind to people. About making donations to good causes. About cooking dinners for friends who have experienced a tragedy or a bump in the road. About helping the homeless, those less fortunate, and those with special needs. About being kind to animals and picking up litter.
- Mom taught me to be myself. She listened to me, encouraged me and told me that mean girls don’t matter. It took a long time, but eventually I realized she was right.
- Mom taught me about eating dinner as a family every night. Mom made the dinners and facilitated this, but this was also Dad’s idea. No television, no distraction. Just family time, talking about our days, and interacting with each other. Doesn’t matter if the food is take out or a frozen Stouffer’s lasagna. Not that I would serve that. A-hem. Another ritual of hers I loved was Baskin Robbins on Friday afternoons after school. A treat to end the school week!
- Mom taught me to value and appreciate my teachers. I’m lucky enough to have had many phenomenal teachers in my life. What they do? I could NEVER do. But I’ve had several I will never forget who made profound and lasting impacts on me. And my mom has also been my teacher!
- Last, but certainly not least, mom taught me how to be a mom. She was here for the births of all three of my daughters. She held me when I cried, she stayed up late with the babies so I could sleep, she cooked, cleaned and did our laundry. She scooped dog poop, walked the dog, and bathed him. She ran my household when I couldn’t. She did all the things that needed to be done AND helped with the babies. She taught me how to be a mom and how to juggle.
- Dad taught me about looking professional so that people will take you seriously. He wears nice suits, ties, shoes, and you’d never know he’d just scarfed down an entire bottle of Maalox before entering the courtroom for his opening statement. Anxiety is unbecoming in the professional atmosphere.
- Dad taught me about preserving family memories and history in photograph and film. We have a lot of it. There’d be so much we’d forget without it. We have oodles of silent films from our early years that he recently transferred to dvd’s. It’s incredible to watch. Hurricane Katrina destroyed a lot, but what we have left was thanks to dad and his love of photography and putting together albums.
- Dad taught me about paying attention to what I read, and both he and Mom helped foster my love of reading. Dad would give us random pamphlets on “How to Be Successful,” or “How to Make Money Doing What You Love.” We’d have to read them and do mini book reports for him. We kvetched and although I know his intentions were good, we were too young to understand. But I remember how important it was to him, and therefore it became important to me.
- Dad taught me an appreciation of art. When I graduated high school, he took my brother Mark and me on a trip to New York City. We went to the Guggenheim Museum and although we were initially baffled by Four Plates of Glass Leaning and other abstract oddities, those memories stuck with me.
- Dad also taught me a love of foreign travel. When I was 14, he flew to France with me and gently dropped me off with a French family whose son we’d hosted several summers prior. It was terrifying but exhilarating and a few years later he took me back to France in addition to England and Norway. Someday when the girls are older, I’d love to travel overseas again–both with and without my kids!
So today’s the day to tell your parents you love them. Mom and Dad, I love you. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me. I don’t tell you often enough that I love you. I’m going to work on doing a better job of that. There’s nothing you’ve done that I’ve taken for granted—not one thing. And you continue to inspire me every day to be the best that I can be.