Thursday, May 26, 2011

"Mom"

Sarah Alberta Todd Bourscheidt

8/31/1911 – 5/9/2011

                Our wonderful mom, grandma, great grandma, mother-in-law went to eternal sleep in the small hours of the morning, May 9, 2012 in Gig harbor, Washington.

            Monday, May 9, was the day after Mothers Day. Between Thursday and Sunday, each of us had the opportunity to visit her as she slept peacefully, under the compassionate care of Franciscan Hospice in a darkened room at Cottesmore of Life Care. We each, in our own way told her how much we loved her, and I for one, thanked her for being such a wonderful grandmother to my children, and mother-in-law to me.

            You see, “Mom” as I called her (perhaps to my own mother’s chagrin) was my friend, my mentor, and my “other mother”. She had wished to give birth to a girl, who coincidentally, she had planned to name Barbara Ann. When Paul and I announced our engagement, Mom was thrilled and welcomed me into her fold without reservation.

            She told me stories about Paul when he was a baby and a little boy, to help me learn about the man I married. She showed me how to clean house, and always told me “if it was worth doing it was worth doing right.” She was present at the birth of each of my babies, to help me thru the early days of diapers, healing from episiotomies, sore nipples and sleepless nights. She was so thrilled to be a grandma, no task was too much to ask.

            When we had toddlers, and needed a break, this more than willing energetic woman took my girls and lovingly cared for them for two weeks while Paul and I enjoyed a leisurely vacation. I came home to a potty trained Cheryl, and a very spoiled Carolyn. Mom never spoiled the girls “rotten”- she just spoiled them with unbinding love and attention. I had awfully big shoes to fill when I reclaimed my daughters, as they now expected me to hold daily tea-parties, play dress-ups, and maintain a bottomless cookie jar!
Fred and "Sally" Bourscheidt  c.1962

            Mom loved to come and visit us where-ever we lived, her visits always limited by “Pop” who didn’t think they should wear out their welcome. Pop passed away in 1971, when Cathryn was a toddler, and Mom began her routine of spending winters with us. Oh what freedoms that gave me! Mom was laundress par excellence. She loved to shop, taking over the chore of weekly grocery shopping, and hated to cook. She liked cleaning up the kitchen, though-(can you imagine)?  We had a nightly routine of me cooking and she cleaning up after me as I went, often exclaiming “Oh, we’ll eat good tonight! Barbara has used every pan she owns!

            As I became more involved as a Girl Scout volunteer, Mom picked up the slack at home, and in later years she was my loyal sidekick and my assistant in whatever job I assigned her. She was the most patient and long-suffering sould I have ever known, for when our girls experienced growing pains she would sit and rub their legs for hours. When anyone was sick, GG could be counted on to sit with their feet in her lap, and she would rub them, until the little patient was fast asleep.

            She accompanied us on camping trips for years, worrying about the bears circling our tent while we snoozed, and managed to out-hike us on every uphill trail. When we stopped to rest, she always pulled candy bars out of her pockets for treats to give us energy- and of course we always acted surprised that she had a favorite one for each of us.
Mom icing Christmas lebkuchen, 2008

Encouraged by Pop, Mom followed the tradition of setting up and baking off hundreds of Christmas cookies every year. The first year Paul and I were married we had a kitchen that was about 6’ x 6’, and yet we were able to mix and bake about 12 different kinds of cookies! The tradition continued, waxing and waning with circumstance and energy levels, but last Christmas, mom helped ice about 10 dozen lebkuchen, even though she said she always hated that job!

            As I recount this lifelong friendship I was so fortunate to experience, I am reminded of the young 50ish year old woman who embraced me unconditionally as her new daughter, the 60 year old widow who thought her world had come to an end, the vibrant matriarch in her 70th and 80th years, and the amazing, devoted caretaker in her 90’s. Mom’s decline into dementia in the past couple of years was heartbreaking for us, but I am sure, painful for her. I realize now, that we really lost her a couple of years back, as this heinous disease ate into her brain.

            Mom gave us all so much, and I will hold her love and her influence in my heart and in my memory for many years to come, hoping to follow in some small way, the shining example she set for me.
Crazy old lady who never lost her sense of humor!