My Mom, My Friend

Hi Friends,

Strong, loving, smart,

happy, kind, caring, talkative,

dependable, creative, curious, independent…

My mom, Darlene, has always been my first and best teacher. Today and every day, my mom is wonderful inspiration as I bloom and grow!

She will always be the woman that I admire most. ❤️

With a very tender heart, today I am sharing the deeply sad news that my sweet mom recently passed away. Our family is very grateful for the wisdom of her doctors, the compassion of her hospice nurses, and the many prayers of our friends and family. It was all so peaceful, as my dad, my husband and I held Mom’s hands…

After raising Johnny, Jeff, and I, my parents retired to the sunny Southwest for 25 happy years. My mom just loved the sunshine, the mountains, and the hummingbirds that visited her desert garden every day. My parents really enjoyed hiking in the desert and exploring many of our beautiful National Parks.

Oh, how we all cherished our family visits! My parents loved to come back to Illinois to ”cool off” each summer. Their visits were always a highlight of our year. My brothers and my husband and I visited my parents in Arizona throughout each year to spread out the family fun. Between our visits, writing letters, frequent phone calls, and heartwarming Skype visits always kept us close.

Three years ago, when it was time to move back closer to family, my parents settled into a new, easier lifestyle in a beautiful, brand new senior living community near all of us. My parents instantly met a whole new circle of friends there. Throughout the pandemic, their senior living community has been a true blessing, helping them to live independently, in a safe space, while surrounded by friends. Together we found creative ways to stay close throughout the lockdowns and restrictions. Although the past two years have been challenging, my mom and dad bravely met each challenge they faced along the way.

Home and family were the two most important things to my mom, Darlene. She always enjoyed hosting wonderful family gatherings. She was my first and best teacher. Each time we were together, I learned something new. Mom was an avid, lifelong reader. She loved to write letters and poetry. She always enjoyed spending time in her Midwest rose garden and later in her Southwest desert garden.

This Rhododendron in my garden grew in my mom’s garden during my childhood.

Early on, my mom gave me the wonderful gift of gardening. It began with nurturing houseplants on my bedroom windowsill. Mom helped my skills flourish when I bought my cozy, little home with the big garden. During the week, I would water everything. Each weekend, when my parents would visit, Mom would identify the weeds and the flowers. Slowly, I learned from her. I have always felt so close to my mom whenever I am in the garden!

Early on, I learned how important creativity is to a happy life… just by watching my mom. She turned fabric and thread into beautiful, one-of-a-kind clothes for me. I felt so grown up when Mom taught me how to follow patterns and use her sewing machine. Working together, I learned how to paint and wallpaper in my childhood bedroom. As I grew up, I admired Mom’s handmade quilt, stained glass pieces, pottery, macrame, and crafty projects of all kinds. I quickly discovered the joys of creating with paper and ink. Over the past year, Mom was a huge supporter of my creative journey along The Artist’s Way. We had many long talks about our creative paths, often with a paintbrush, watercolor markers, or colored pencils in hand. Such a beautiful way to add a bit of magic to our days!

Mom and I enjoyed many lovely hours in this garden.

Throughout her life, Darlene actively volunteered in our church, school, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and at the public library. In recent years, Mom and I helped in the pretty gardens of their senior living community. I’m planning to carry on our tradition of volunteering together in the gardens and library there while visiting my dad.

In early April, our family suffered another monumental loss, when both of my brothers, Johnny and Jeff, passed away after a brief battle with Covid-19, in the home that they shared. My parents, my husband, and I continue to rely on our faith, family, and friends each day as we mourn their loss.

Tomorrow, November 6th, is my mom’s 88th birthday. We will have a private family service in the morning. In the afternoon, we will celebrate all three special lives during a visitation with friends who live in the senior community. We are so grateful for the incredible love and friendship that has surrounded our family for the past six months. Thoughtful expressions of sympathy continue to wrap us in love.

Since it is not yet time to gather together in person, we invite you to join with our family, from wherever you are, on November 6th, at 12 noon (in your time zone) to say a prayer, take a moment of silence, light a candle, or whatever would feel most meaningful to you. We also encourage you to do a small act of kindness on November 6th, in honor of Darlene, Johnny, and Jeff ~ who lived their lives sharing kindness with others every day!

Such a special walk together!

For the past six years, I have been dedicated to raising awareness for Alzheimer’s research. It feels like one of the most important ways that I can make a difference. The most heartwarming experience of all, was walking hand-in-hand with my mom, just one week before she passed away, in the Alzheimer’s Awareness Walk at their senior living community. I will cherish that memory always…

Thank you all for your lovely expressions of sympathy. Your friendship is truly a blessing in my life! In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association, a charity very close to our family’s hearts.

I feel so very blessed to have Darlene as both my mother and my friend. From time to time, I’d love to share some of our stories here on the blog.

Thank you for visiting here today. Be safe!

With love,

💗 Dawn


24 thoughts on “My Mom, My Friend

  1. Hi Dawn-I will be with you in spirit as you celebrate your mom with her new community of friends. Sending so much love to you, your dad and John-


    • Huge hugs, Carol! We could feel you beside us yesterday as we celebrated the lives of my mom, Johnny, and Jeff. The reverend led our very small family in a beautiful church service in the morning. In the afternoon, we had a lovely visitation with my parents’ dear friends in their senior living community. We gathered in the safest way possible, but squeezed in many hugs, too! The entire day felt so healing to my dad, John, and I. Thank you for being a very special part of my life, dear friend!💗

    • Huge hugs, Linda! We could truly feel your love yesterday and your understanding over many years. We will have much to talk about. When we are together, I can share a special slideshow tribute to my mom, Johnny, and Jeff that I created in their honor. It’s a beautiful ‘love letter’ to my family! Wishing you and Jim healthy, happy days. Take extra good care!💗

  2. Dawn, words escape me to truly express how sorry I am to hear of the loss of your Mom in addition to losing your brothers. Your positive outlook and words are an inspiration to the rest of us. I have set noon tomorrow on my phone to remind to stop, take a moment, say a prayer, and think of a good deed to pass along. This post brought tears and smiles which is reflective of life. Take care of yourself and good thoughts and prayers to your Dad as he maneuvers this challenging new chapter. 💗

    • Huge hugs, dear Judy! Thank you so much for joining with so many friends, near and far, at noon yesterday. I could truly feel the power of big LOVE at that time. It felt so very heartwarming and healing!! This difficult time in our world calls for creative, meaningful, new ways to ‘gather’ safely. Friends have been texting and emailing all of their unique ways of honoring the lives of my mom, Johnny, and Jeff. We are so very grateful!💕 Like ripples in a pond, the love and kindness spreads in wonderful ways. Such a lovely way to honor three special lives! I will pass along your prayers to my dad. He just turned 90 on Monday. We are taking extra good care of one another. Stay healthy, dear Judy!💗

    • Many thanks, Mother Hen, for your sweet ‘words like honey.’ We truly cherish all the blessings of our time together. Even in her final week, my mom was helping and nurturing those around her. She brightened everyone’s days. She was well known for her hugs. Friends in their senior living community often told me how Darlene would say, “You look like you need a hug. Would you like one?” She spread love every day!
      Thank you so much for being here today.💗

  3. My sincere condolences, Dawn. The loss of our parents is one of the most difficult losses we face in life. My mom has been gone 16 years now and I still miss her. She was an inspiration. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

    • Heartfelt thanks for your kind words and prayers, Aquila! We have the special honor of sharing the inspiration that our sweet mothers gave us. Sending you hugs and many blessings.
      Take extra good care!💗

  4. Read the sad news just in time to pay tribute to your Mom. She would be so very proud of raising you as her beloved daughter.
    My love

    • Huge hugs, dear Anne! I think Nancy and Darlene would have been dearest friends… just like their daughters are! 💕 Anne, you have been a special part of our family for so many years. We treasure your friendship… and all of your beautiful, heartfelt cards. Many thanks for being a special part of our tribute yesterday. Your love traveled all the way from California right on time!
      Stay safe, dear heart!💗

    • We can feel your hugs, Ericka! Thank you for being one of our kindred spirits who have gathered here and touched my heart over the past seven years. In 2016, I filled gift books for both of my parents with all of the ‘Reasons Why I Love You’ for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Over time, I’d love to share some of those stories here.
      Take extra good care, Ericka!💗

  5. Dearest Dawn, I am stunned to read your post, my friend. I am so sorry to hear that you are experiencing another great loss. It is incredibly hard to lose a parent. She was the one that first loved you. From what you have shared, she sounds like an amazing human being. So talented and certainly raised a lovely daughter. I do hope you are taking care of yourself, dear one. With just having lost your brothers and now your mother, I hope grief counseling is available to you and your family. Please know that you and John and your father are in our prayers. Sending hugs and love across the miles. Love, Martha Ellen, Grayden, and Samuel

    • Huge hugs, Martha Ellen for your loving words! It was another very unexpected shock for my dad, John, and I. It is truly a blessing that I have been able to spend time with my parents nearly every day since I helped them make their big move from Arizona to Illinois in 2018. We shared so many family memories and made lots of wonderful, new memories together, too! My mom was always my first and best teacher. In her last two weeks, we read about hummingbirds in one of her favorite books and Mom taught me more interesting facts about her beloved hummingbirds. We always looked for hummingbirds in her Memory Care garden!
      Yes, we will begin grief counseling through hospice very soon. I am practicing extreme self-care while navigating an unbelievable amount of family responsibilities all at once. It’s quite overwhelming! We are being brave and strong together. When time allows, it would be so lovely to plan another Skype visit with you! John and I truly enjoyed our last virtual visit with you, Grayden, and Samuel!💕
      Take extra good care, dear heart. Your friendship, across the miles, is such a blessing in my life!💗

  6. Dear Dawn, I am so sorry. You have been through so much this past year. Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you and your dad as you grieve the loss of this wonderful soul. It was easy to see in the photos where you get your kind and generous heart. Sending much love, and remember to breathe. ❤️

    • Huge hugs, dear Chris! You have taught me so much throughout this journey. I cherish our friendship, across the miles, and think of you so often. We can feel your love flowing all the way from West Texas during this very sad time for our family.
      Did I ever tell you that my parents lived in Temple, Texas, as young newlyweds, while my dad was stationed there in the Army? They really enjoyed their time there. Living so far away from both of their families required them to build a very strong marriage together right from the very beginning. Soon my dad shipped off to Korea and Mom moved back to Chicago to be close to her family. As we celebrated Mom’s birthday yesterday, we also celebrated Dad’s wedding proposal to her on her birthday 70 years ago, in a big snowstorm!
      Many thanks for the reminder to breathe. It’s a lot right now!
      Sending my love, dear friend. I think of you so often. Please take extra good care… 💗

  7. Dear Dawn, I have been thinking of you so much over the last few weeks especially. I’m so sorry to hear about your wonderful Mum’s passing. What a year this has been. I’m sending love and hugs to your family. And wrapping my arms around you form afar. Your Mum was a wonderful soul and I can see how much you have in common with her. Your Dad too is going to miss her terribly I’m sure. I’m so happy you helped them make the move to be close to you.
    Big love and big hugs to you and may your garden feed your heart and your soul and remind you of your Mum who is even now still with you. xox

    • Huge, faraway hugs, dear Vicky! I can feel your love all the way from New Zealand. You have been such a special friend to us all. My mom always loved seeing the photos of your beautiful garden. My dad has always been very interested in the progress of your Tiny House.
      Recently, we had a very special Celebration of Life in remembrance of my mom, and my brothers, Johnny and Jeff. It’s especially hard for my dad, John, and I now that the holidays are here. All of our family birthdays fall in November and December. My dad and I have been sharing lots of wonderful family stories and enjoying old family photos.
      Thank you for all of your loving words, Vicky. I’m looking forward to our upcoming Skype visit. Take extra good care, dear friend!💗

  8. I was so sorry to hear about your mom, Dawn. I was in the middle of a move at the time and had no bandwidth in my brain to reply. No matter how long our mother’s live, it’s never long enough. The missing is always.

    • Thank you so much for your very kind words, Marlene.💕A very sudden, unexpected medical emergency ended Mom’s life too soon. Dad and I have been spending lots of time looking through old family photos together and sharing our stories and memories. Such a remarkable woman who touched so many lives with her constant love and kindness! We miss her dearly…

      Marlene, sending my hugs and very best wishes for healthy, happy days in your new home. I’m hoping to jump back into blogging in January. I really miss all of my special blog friends!💗

  9. Dawn, I’m so sorry to read about of the loss of your Mom in addition to losing your two brothers. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your father as you go through these sad days.

    • Oh, Karen! Heartfelt thanks for your very kind words. Although I check the blog every day, I just noticed your comment today. I don’t know how I missed it earlier.🤦🏼‍♀️

      My dad and I have been spending LOTS of quality time together, looking at old family photos and sharing stories and memories. We are taking good care of one another… and my sweet husband is taking care of all three of us. Hold your loved ones close every day! Thank you for being here, Karen.💗

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