• My mama…

    Date: 2013.12.29 | Category: Family Life | Tags:

    My mama was everything good and generous and giving. My mama has been my lifelong best friend.  Her life wasn’t always easy.  She could look stern but she would give you the shirt off her back if you asked for it.  She would rather give away her last dollar than keep it for herself.  She was never wealthy by earthly standards, but she gave generously.  She loved to make people smile.  She believed in God and His power with her whole heart.  She sang silly songs.  Would use the word “jellyfish” if she wanted to cuss.  You knew how mad she was by how many adjectives she used to describe the jellyfish.  She grew up hearing silly superstitions and even though she didn’t believe them, she would still spout them every once in a while and make us laugh. She said things like “I knew you were thinking about me because my nose was itching or I knew today was going to be lucky because my hand itched.”

    mom & mema

    She loved her grandchildren and was at every event she could be at.  She was always so proud of all of them.  She sat through countless recitals sometimes twice in one day.  She went to ballgames, Awana meets, school programs of any type.

    She especially loved pageants and watching Miss America with Cassie.  When Cassie was about 4, Mom asked me if she could put Cassie in a local pageant.  I remember laughing because Cassie wouldn’t leave my side.  Cassie was a mama’s girl.  There was no way that girl would walk across a stage. All the little girls were walking across the stage with their moms.  We were last in line to walk across the stage.  We got to the stairs and Cassie said, “Mama, I got this.  You go stand by nana.”  And off she went, waving her hands like she was the real Miss America.  I will never forget the tears in my mom’s eyes as Cassie was crowned.  You would have thought she won the Miss America pageant itself.   As the years went by, Cassie decided to do another local pageant and of course, my mom was there.  This is one of my favorite pictures from that time.

    Miss Spring Creek 2011 011

    She made wedding flowers for barely more than cost and I would ask her why.  She said, “Because it makes me feel good to be part of someone’s happy day.  I don’t want them to have to worry about the cost.”  She did my wedding flowers and Cassie dreamed of the day when she would do hers.

    We did crafts together for years, my mom, my mother-in-law Linda, Linda’s sister Kay, and me.  We had a great time.  We started doing crafts years and years ago.  When we first started out, it was because I needed money if I were to ever afford Christmas presents for my children.  As the years went by, I didn’t need it but they could use a little help with their Christmas funds.  During the last 11 years, we have mainly been doing the sale at the Iowa State Fairgrounds every Christmas holiday.  We have our huge booth in the corner.  We look forward to all the people that come back year after year and buy from us.  No matter what I did I couldn’t get Linda or my mom to raise their prices.  They loved passing on their bargains and loved to make people smile so they would just say, “We are making a profit.  It’s ok.”  During the sale, my mom would constantly get up and give people bags to carry their purchases.  It didn’t matter if they had purchased from us or not.  If she saw someone carrying a big coat or items they purchased somewhere else without a handle, she was out of her seat, handing them a bag, and wishing them a Merry Christmas.  That was my mom.

    This is how the booth looked when we set up Friday afternoon.


    That weekend was a Christmas wonderland.  The kids came and helped us set up.  Family helped bring the crafts down to Des Moines and we would all have the most fun.  We ate cookies by the bucketful.  We laughed.  We celebrated making a profit.  We would talk about what next year would bring. We stayed up late making more crafts and laughing.  The weekend was always a success.  We would talk about all the bargains we would find after Christmas was over.

    And this is how it looked on Sunday afternoon.

    crafts 1

    I have many, many wonderful memories of my mom.  After Christmas sales will never, ever be the same.  I miss hearing her call a couple times a day.  I miss her phone messages that would say, “It’s just mom!”.  No matter how many times I told her my phone says I have a missed call and you don’t need to leave a message, that message was always there. Oh, how I miss it now.  I wish I had saved just one.

    I hate that the littles will never run with glee to the door when she arrives like my other children did.  I hate that they won’t know that she was called the shoe fairy by Cassie.  Mom always found the best bargains for shoes and Cassie, Hope and Grace were always well outfitted.  I hate that they won’t have her sitting in the audience cheering them on too.  I hate that she won’t be bringing them a champagne cake for their birthday. And most of all, I hate that Cassie hurts because her dreams of what her wedding would one day be like are never to be.  Cassie used to dream of driving all over looking for her dress with me, Linda, Mom and Kay.  Mom and Kay are both gone now.   Cassie and nana would discuss wedding flower colors when she was just a little girl.  They would talk about twinkling lights and all the tulle my mom was going to place everywhere.  Cassie and Nana had big plans.  They had big plans on a budget.

    My mom was the best bargain shopper of all.  Every year we did Operation Christmas Child boxes. All year long she would pick up sale items – shirts, colors, hairbows, you name it, she found it.  She would shop the clearance sales after school started and buy as many of those little plastic pencil boxes that she could find.  Last fall she picked up every one that Wal-Mart had.  She just threw all that she found for 25 cents in the cart and didn’t count.  We usually did 42 boxes.  7 of each of the six age groups.  The year before we had done 77 and she thought that was wonderful.  This year she wanted to do more.  We actually wrapped boxes and filled them this May before I left for China.  We knew I would be very busy when we got home.  We ended up with 217.  She was thrilled.


    Every year we went to the Women of Faith conference.  Each year our group grew.  This was the first year in over 10 years that I had to miss.  They are great weekends spent with laughter and tears.  We have a slumber party and we all laugh well into the night.  This year Evie was in the hospital after having heart surgery and I didn’t feel right leaving her so Cassie took over.  Cassie drove the bus and took everyone to the conference.  Mom was not feeling well, but she still went.  She liked being with her friends and sharing her faith.

    women of faith

    There are so many things I can say about my mom, but the thing that touched my heart the most was she loved her grandchildren and she never treated the ones we have adopted any different than the ones I gave birth too.  I have heard many, many stories from others that this isn’t always the case.  That was what made this whole summer so hard.  Mom had a perforated ulcer the night we were to head back from China.  She was here with Zach, taking care of the other kids while Dan, Cassie, Linda and I were in China.  She was so sick.  They rushed her into surgery.  She came out of surgery, still not looking like herself.  Later on it was discovered that she had had a massive heart attack somewhere before or during the surgery.  She went into congestive heart failure and ended back up in the hospital.  She went home to recover hoping to get well enough to have her quadruple bypass.  She said, “I don’t want to live like this.  I want to take the chance on surgery.  If God has more plans for me, I will live and if not, I will get to see Kyle again.”  She had her surgery and it was going well. She was set to be discharged the next morning and that night she started having blood pressure issues so they took her back to the ICU.  We no more than walked her down to the ICU and she coded.


    The code put her kidneys in failure, shocked her liver, and put a strain on her heart.  She spent 45 days in the ICU.  She fought a gallant battle.  She finally got out of the hospital and was sent to skilled nursing care.  She was happy to be in her home town but her body was just giving out.  She started to sleep all day.  She was confused at times.  The last Tuesday that I went home to be with her she didn’t know who I was and I was heartbroken.  We knew that the end was close because she refused to eat or drink any more.  She just wanted to be “safe and at home” she would say.  We knew what home meant.  She wasn’t talking about a building.  We decided to take her hospice where we could all be with her.

    True to my mom’s selfless, caring way, she passed away on Christmas Eve at 5 p.m. allowing me to go home and spend Christmas with all her new grandkids, four of which had never experienced all that Christmas is.  One of the hardest parts this past summer is that my mom really didn’t get to know her four new grandchildren.  She only saw them a couple of times because she was just too sick.

    Christmas 2013

    One of the biggest gifts my mom gave my children and me was being friends with my mother-in-law.   They came to every function together.  They came down for shopping days where we had to eat at Red Lobster or HuHot.  We took trips together and had two wonderful trips to Branson.  During one trip, Kay, my mom and Linda all got in trouble for laughing too loud in the hotel room.  I guess the people in the next room didn’t appreciate their bouts of laughter.  The knocking on the wall only made them laugh harder.  That is how much fun they had together.   During the summer when we had no where handicap accessible for my mom to go to, she went to Linda’s.  Can you imagine your mother-in-law taking care of your mother for weeks on end?  Well, I had that privilege.  My mom was loved by many.  She was a beautiful soul who will leave a legacy of generosity and kindness.


    If that was all there was, I would be beyond myself with grief, but that is not the end.  Instead I have hope.  Hope for an eternity spent with her in heaven.  It’s kind of hard to be disheartened about that especially when she was suffering so.  She fought and fought and fought some more.  In the end, her body gave up on her.  Multiple organ failure is what they called it.  I called it slowly watching my mother fade away.  When the person you love is suffering, imagining them happy and whole in heaven is a blessing.

    The last gift my mom gave me was in hospice.  She asked to sit up and I hugged her.  She looked at me so clearly and said, “I love you Lis.”  She laid back down and fell asleep.  She slept for that first night and into the day.  My dad came to visit.  I walked him to the car.  I came back in carrying a silly cat that Aunt Lucy had sent for the kids, that meowed a Christmas song, and showed my brother and my husband.  As I turned to sit it on the chair, she took one last breath and was gone.  I had been so afraid of the end and it wasn’t horrible.  It was peaceful.  She mouthed something that looked like “Ok” and she was gone.  That was it.  Another gift from mom.

    I am sad but I am also surrounded by wonderful memories and extreme silliness from my children.  (Maisey got make-up from Mema for Christmas.)


    I will spend each day here knowing God still has a plan for me.  I know that each day that passes bring me one day closer to seeing Kyle and mom again.  Death of loved ones, especially a child, does that for you.  You no longer fear death.  You aren’t running towards it like life doesn’t matter, but you no longer fear the day that it will happen.  God’s grace does that for you.  His grace and mercy are what sustain me.  What a gift.  First, my salvation and second my mother.  I am a very blessed girl.


    P.S.  I had the worst time finding the words for my mom’s obituary.  I wrote one but it just didn’t sound right so Dan took over and wrote this beautiful obit for mom.  I love the way he described her.  She supported us when we were first married.  We had very little and she would always show up at just the right time with food and toilet paper.  🙂  She was never just my mom.  She was always my friend and biggest supporter.  She will be missed.

    Marly Ann (Messerly) Traster’s Obituary