1954: Jane Butler (Hazel Jane Haley Butler) at age 17, already a young wife and mother.
When I was looking at the calendar a few days ago, it suddenly hit me that the fifteenth anniversary of my mother's death at the too-young age of 64 was almost upon us. And now it's here. Fifteen years ago today she left us. Ironically, she passed away on what would have been her own mother's 96th birthday, April 7th. I imagine their reunion beyond the veil was a joyous occasion.
The headstone my dad chose for Mom has weathered the time well.
As it happened, my youngest brother, Darryl, and his wife, Tamera, came for a short visit while I was still on Spring Break three weeks ago. During their visit, we went to visit Mom's grave site, along with Darryl's two daughters (and my nieces), Brittany and Savannah. Even though I live only 7-8 miles from the cemetery, I hadn't been there in years. We found her headstone already festooned with bouquets, so she has not been neglected. I know Savannah visits her grave often.
My offering. Mom's favorite color was the same as mine: blue.
It's hard to believe fifteen years have already passed, that it's been that long since the last time I was able to talk to her. The truth is that, although my mom was a practically perfect mother to my four younger siblings, she and I had some serious issues that started when I was twelve and lasted until perhaps the last five years of her life, when I was married with children of my own. We made a peace of sorts, though we never really recaptured what was lost over the years. In some ways that made it more difficult to lose her, the final death-knell for any hope of reclaiming the closeness we should have shared, at least in this life. I've often thought that we'd have been good friends if we hadn't been mother and daughter, because we were so much alike. Nonetheless, despite the issues we had, I find sometimes that I still miss our long conversations. She was the queen of common sense and inspired wisdom.
She loved being a mother, and the back of the headstone honors that fact
with a family photo and all six of her children listed by name in birth order.
I'm 62 now, just two years shy of the age at which my mother moved on to Paradise. I have no idea how much longer I'll be around. My kids tell me I'm not allowed to die until I'm about a hundred years old. (I tell them not to wish that burden upon me!) I'm hoping for maybe twenty more years, enough time to perhaps enjoy some grandchildren someday and to realize my dream of becoming a published author. I'm relatively healthy, so it could happen.
But sometimes I also wonder what it will be like when my time comes to cross the veil, and what kind of reunions I'll experience. Will my mom be one of the first in line? I'd like to think so. At any rate, I'm sure she knows she's loved and missed by the children and grandchildren she left behind. How grateful I am that families are forever.
We all commented on how well this porcelain portrait has withstood the ravages of time.
Mom, Dad, and me in the back; Darryl, LeRoy, Karla, and Jeff in front.
June 1, 1968 at the Oakland Temple in California.