Sunday, May 13, 2007

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

Today is Mothers Day. It's tough to watch people buying cards for their mom's, taking their mom's out to lunch, and just generally having a special day with the woman that brought them into this life. I ache because I would give anything to be able to buy you a card today or take you out to a nice lunch, or just be able to give you a hug today. Days like today bring the grief to the surface once again and oh, how it makes me miss you.

The things I miss about you..............................the list is long. Probably the thing I miss the most is the relationship you had with my kids. The storytelling - no one can tell a story quite like you can, especially The Wide Mouth Frog; just seeing your mouth opening wide, singing away "Oh, I'm a wide mouth frog, I'm a wide mouth frog" and hearing the fits of giggles from the kids. The rain walks- it was much too cold for me to go on those rain walks but not for you. On went the boots and coats and off you would go hand-in-hand with the kids and, despite the boots and coats, you would come back soaking wet, the joy just dripping off of you. The holidays- every holiday was worth celebrating big. Don't you know I just can't live up to that? And it was just so much fun for you. Every holiday the kids still tell me, "It just isn't the same without Grandma Cheryl."

I miss that you loved the kids unconditionally, just as they are- perfectly imperfect. You didn't place judgement, rather, you just loved them, really loved them. You lived for those moments you could spend with them. You saw them every day yet every day it seemed like it was the first day you had seen them for months. They felt SUPER special in your presence, something that no one else has quite been able to do. I miss you driving into the driveway, yelling out your window, "Who wants to come to Fred Meyers with me?" Not because you needed us to come with you but just because you liked to be with us. And, I hated it then, but I miss having you beg me not to move because you just couldn't live without the kids- "It's what keeps me living" you would say. It made me feel guilty for wanting to move back then but I would love to hear you say that now.

I miss our trips to Hawaii- those trips will never be quite the same. I miss going out to Busby with you, having the kids snuggle in your arms to the rocking of the boat, walking around the island and finding all kinds of treasures. I miss going into the library and seeing your happy, smiling face as you took the kids by the hand and trapsed all over the offices "showing off" your grandkids, as if they were the only ones in the world.

I sometimes will hear people complain about their moms and think, "Don't they know that today is all they have, that they might not have tomorrow?" What I would do for a little more time with you. I haven't always liked you, you weren't always a good mom. But I loved the woman that you grew to be; teaching me to let go of things that just really aren't important, to stop and smell the roses (literally), to really live life as if it is our last day. And I LOVED the kind of grandmother you were - it has left a huge void that we cannot quite figure out how to fill.

I REALLY miss YOU mom!! Happy Mothers Day!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ For those of you who did not know my Mother, I am leaving you with this article that was printed in the Fairbanks Daily News one week after her death. I think it gives you a glimpse of what kind of woman my mother was and the magic she left behind. The man who wrote this knew my mother and his children were some of the many children that were touched by her magic. So here it is:

Librarian who died after long cancer battle never lost childlike awe
Published February 10, 2002 Article ID: 1355209 Section: Unknown
By Dermot Cole

IT JUST SO HAPPENED that I found myself seated next to a young family of four Saturday afternoon during the memorial service for Cheryl Bidwell at the Princess Hotel. The dad, wearing an Air Force uniform, kept watch over a squirming toddler while the mom held an active baby who repeatedly arched his back and appeared to be on the verge of walking.

I noticed the dad's black dress shoes captivated the toddler, who was seated on the floor between his dad's knees, a position in which he could vigorously push his dad's shoes back and forth, perhaps controlling an imaginary airplane. The boy may not have had any toys at that moment, but he had shoes to play with.

This played out near the back of the Edgewater Room in a crowd of about 375. I mention this only because something was said during the service that made me think Cheryl would have appreciated what the little boy was doing with his dad's shoes on this occasion.

After learning a lot from her six children, Cheryl enrolled in college when she was 40 to earn a degree in early childhood development. Among the many quotes and favorite sayings of hers that were repeated Saturday, one of the best was from an essay Cheryl had written for her freshman English 111 class about boredom, enthusiasm and happiness.

"Awareness is a unique vision, a peculiar elephant-in-the-clouds way of looking at things that small children possess," she said.

"My young son continually finds some treasure others have missed, a beautiful shell, a novel rock or lost dimes."

"'Tim, how do you always find such neat things?' I inquired once. His cryptic reply was, 'I look."'

"How many of us adults really look at and appreciate the marvels all around us? How many of us really notice sunshine on the kitchen floor, the rainbow on a puddle, the cockiness of a little bird on the lawn or beauty in rich, shiny brown mud? Part of this ability to really see and be aware of life comes from children's relationship to the present--it's all they have. In their minds, yesterday ceases to be important when gone and tomorrow can seem as far away as forever. Today is unparalleled. Adults who retain this way of perceiving life find in each day some discovery or blessing."

Those who knew Cheryl Bidwell will tell you that she found some discovery or blessing each day, even while she struggled for 12 years with cancer. She once said that if she had to do it all over again, she would accept the cancer because of what it taught her.

Before her death, 32 family members gathered in her hospital room and she had a message for them as she gripped each one's hand in turn. Her brother Dan said she was concerned not for herself, but for her loved ones because she had to leave them behind.

Cheryl was among those people who grow up and manage to hold onto that childlike enthusiasm, always seeing that elephant in the clouds. I think that's one of the reasons she was a wonderful children's librarian. Cheryl kept going in spite of her illness, continuing a job she loved because she loved people and books.

She worked in the Berry Room at the Noel Wien Library for the last 11 years. There are hundreds or even thousands of young families who benefited from her encyclopedic knowledge of children's literature and her ability to tell a tale.

If you walked in there, the chances of seeing her smiling were about the same as the chances of seeing books.

She would sing with gusto with the 3-year-olds and more than a few people thought she was the "Mother Moose" of storytime.

She was a valuable actress in the library's "Mystery Night" productions, even when she had to do it in a wheelchair.

One of the last projects Cheryl worked on at the library was the proposal for a Story Garden to be built outside the windows of the Berry Room.

A lot of people have suggested that it should be the "Cheryl Bidwell Memorial Story Garden," because it was her idea.

I hope Cheryl's garden is a place where people can see the rainbow in the puddle, the cockiness of a little bird on the lawn and the beauty of rich, shiny, brown mud.

A few months ago, when Sue Sherif retired from the library after 20 years of service to the children of Fairbanks to take a job in Anchorage, members of the library staff prepared a book for her filled with remembrances and good wishes.

The page that Cheryl included featured a quotation from "Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher," a book by Bruce Coville. I see now that she meant the quotation to apply not only to her friend's move to Anchorage, but also to Cheryl's own leave-taking, because she knew it was going to happen before long.

The book is about Jeremy, the smallest kid in the sixth grade, who ends up caring for a dragon named Tiamat for a little while. When it comes time for the dragon to return to the dragon world, Jeremy tells Miss Priest, the children's librarian, that he loves Tiamat and doesn't want her to leave. He can't stand the idea of losing her.

The quote Cheryl placed in the book for Sue continued:

"Miss Priest reached out and took his chin in her hand. She looked into his eyes. 'You silly boy,' she said. 'Nothing you love is lost. Not really. Things, people--they always go away, sooner or later. You can't hold them, any more than you can hold moonlight. But if they've touched you, it they're inside you, then they're still yours. The only things you ever really have are the ones you hold inside your heart."

© Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Fairbanks Daily News-Miner by NewsBank, Inc.


Linda said...

It was heartening to read your post!Truly, a mother is the best friend and guide that one can possibly think of. No one comes closer to that!It was great to know about your mom.No doubt you're gonna miss her!God bless you!

Heather said...

I hope you had a nice day yesterday...your mom sounds like she was one incredible were very lucky to have such a great mom...I can see why she is so deeply missed.

tribalmama said...

Oh, Heidi!
Thank you for reminding us to cherish our mothers!
Hugs and Love...

Heather said...

Heidi, Thanks for sharing your story about your mom!! That was beautiful. Your mom sounds just wonderful!! I think grandparents are so lucky and awesome when they can cherish their grandkids! I wish all grandparents could be like your mom and it is nice your kids were so available to her. I'm sure she appreciated that.

Ren said...

Ok, I'm sitting here crying my eyes out. I couldn't even write about her on Mothers day...just totally wimped out. Thanks for taking the time to put your feelings into words, it means more than you know.

I keep seeing young girls shopping with their Mums and Grandma's and I get this terrible ache inside. I miss her like mad. My kids still say "Christmas isn't the same without Grandma Cheryl"