Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What I Will Miss...

My mother, Ann Lucille Kelso Culbertson, passed away last night, August 23rd, 2010. She died peacefully after a ten years of contending with Parkinson's Disease and in the last few years, Lewy Body Dementia. I was fortunate to be there with her during her last days and I will always treasure that time.

My mother was born February 6, 1938 in Wallace, ID to Elva Lucille Rock Kelso and Weldon Lowell Kelso. Due to family moves, she lived in several places in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho while she was growing up.

She attended the University of Montana where she met my father. They fell in love over games of double solitaire while she was recuperating from mononucleosis in the hospital. Dad proposed on her 22nd birthday in February and they were married just after she graduated in June. They were married June 19th, 1960. My mother was 22 and my father was 21. They had a small wedding in a Presbyterian church in Spokane, Washington.

My sister, Kris (short for Kristine) arrived in 1961 and I followed in 1965. My earliest memory of my mom was when I had the chicken pox when I was about three years old. I remember sitting on her lap watching The Beverly Hillabillies on TV. I was a somewhat sickly child and my mother nursed me through two bouts of mumps, the chicken pox, scarlet fever and numerous bouts of strep throat and tonsillitis before I was five.

Some of my favorite memories are of walking through the woods on a girl scout outing and my mom pointing out the wildflowers and finding beauty in the mundane parts of the coast range forests. She also taught me to sew, cook, and call spatulas "rubber giggers" (I didn't learn until I was much older that no one outside of my family calls them that).

My mother was a librarian by profession. She was organized as the job requires, but also saw the creative part of the job which I think escapes many people. She was not the stereotypical librarian shushing people, instead, she wanted people to have access to the books and the treasures within. I have many fond memories of going to the library after school and "helping" check the books in, mend them, sort them and, later when I could read, hiding in the stacks to read my favorites. My mother is the one that led me to series such as Cowboy Sam, The Happy Hollisters, The Boxcar Children, Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, The Little House series as well as gems such as Stuart Little, The Trumpet of the Swan and Charlotte's Web.

Due to my mother's influence, I'm still an avid reader and find my escape in books. When my dad teased me for re-reading some favorite books, my mom said "Re-reading books is like finding an old friend". I still frequently re-read books and always hear her in the back of my head saying that.

My mother and I didn't always see eye-to-eye but I have always loved her without reservation. While I haven't lived close by for 15 years or more, I always knew she was there and available and part of my life. I will miss that most of all.