Monday, July 14, 2008

Green Necklace


A year ago today a very good friend of mine moved away from the place where I live. A week later another very good friend was scheduled to move away. This happens every July when the second year med students leave for rotations and I have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that every July I'm going to be sending off some really close friends.

But I often think about that day in particular. July 14, 2007. One year ago today.

We woke up early and Bobby went to the Pace's house to help load up their moving truck. Bobby needed some medicine from so I did something that at that time was totally out of character for me. I took both children to Walmart by myself. At that time Franny was not invited on shopping trips. Especially to Walmart. She was difficult to manage and she would often scream or run away from me and almost always caused a scene. It was not really a problem because I could just do all my shopping while she was at school. But Bobby needed me to go this particular morning and so I mustered up the courage and faced one of my biggest fears at that time: WALMART WITH TWO CHILDREN.

It actually went pretty well. We didn't need to be there long so we picked up what we needed and passed by a jewelry clearance rack. There was a long beaded green necklace that caught Franny's eye. I looked at the tag. $3.50. I thought, "Why not? We can swing that." So now that Franny was entertained by the green necklace I thought why not pick up a few more items. We shopped for a little while longer and then headed to the cashier's line. (I didn't want to push my luck.)

As we approached the cashier I started to get anxious. It had always been difficult to convince Franny that she needed to surrender whatever treat we were bribing her with long enough for the cashier to ring it up and hand it back. I was getting to the point where I really understood that negative behavior should not be reinforced so I felt prepared to deal with an outburst and proceeded to ask Franny to hand the necklace to the nice lady ringing us up. She flipped out. Lost it completely. I asked her once more to give the necklace to the cashier, and when she continued to throw her fit I calmly explained to Franny in simple words that we would not be buying the necklace today. Unfortunately I had parked in front of the OTHER end of the store, so while Franny screamed and screamed, I gripped the handle bar of the cart and with my head held high with resolve and determination I ignored her screams and the stares of many people around me and walked along the front of the store in front of the bank, the guest services desk, the salon, and the picture studio when Franny suddenly stopped screaming and said, "I'm sorry Mommy."

What? Did she just say, "sorry mommy"? I felt my heart soar. She had started to use words but I had never heard her come up with a "sorry" on her own with out any prompts. I knew exactly what to do. Instead of walking out of the store with what little dignity I had left, I veered to the left towards the jewelry section, grabbed another clearanced green necklace and we tried the whole thing again. Franny handed over the necklace after only being asked once, we paid for it and we've never had that problem again. (With Franny anyway. See here how Sophie is following in her footsteps.)

Kind of a small little breakthrough in my limited experience of parenting, but it was a big enough deal that I called my Mom on my cell phone as soon as we got into the car. I was thrilled that I had done something well and taught Franny a lesson. My mom listened closely to the story and she seemed just as thrilled as I was. We talked about it for quite a while and though I don't remember exactly what she said, I remember feeling happy that I was sharing that experience with her.

After that we headed over to the Pace's to help them clean. Then after the house was completely emptied, Ashley and I had a yummy girl's lunch where we talked about the name of the restaurant we would someday open. We sent her and Abbey off and felt pretty sad the rest of the day. Now we had to prepare for sending off the Sessions and Miss Franny's BFF Alyssa. I made cookies that afternoon- they were Heath Bar Toffee Cookies. They were delicious and I called Jill to see if we could come over and play and bring dessert. Then I got an email from my farewatcher (a great service from Travelocity) alerting me of cheap tickets to California. I got on the phone with my mom again to tell her that maybe we could afford a trip out there this summer. She got really excited and we threw around a few ideas for a short family vacation in August- maybe we could get a beach house in Carlsbad or something. I told her about the cookies I made and then she said, "I can't believe this! I just made those cookies two weeks ago for the very first time!" Call waiting interrupted and I checked to see who it was and said, "Oh mom, I better go. It's my friend. I'll call you later. I love you." We went to the Sessions spend some time together. My plan for the week was to soak up as much Jill and Alyssa time as possible before they left for Utah. My Mom and I had been on the phone a lot the previous week. She was very sympathetic and listened as I told her I had no idea what I would say to Franny when she asked for Alyssa. How could I explain to her in words that she could understand why she couldn't play with her whenever she wanted?

We came home and I fell asleep on the floor after trying and failing to beat the Legend of Zelda for NES. School for Bobby had just let out and we were feeling pretty care-free. Then the phone rang at about 11:30 PM. Bobby didn't get to it in time, but he saw it was my brother Richard. He didn't really think anything of it because he figured Richard had forgotten about the time difference and was just calling to chat. The phone rang again close to 1:00 AM. This time Bobby made sure to answer it and he knew it meant bad news. It was my dad. Bobby woke me up and I immediately felt scared. My Dad was calling with the news. My whole life changed during that phone call. We didn't know exactly what was going to happen at that point. But something told me right then that everything was about to change, and whatever was happening right now was going to impact the rest of our lives in a big way.

That green necklace belongs to me now. Every time I look at it I think of those last conversations I got to have with my mother. I spoke with her three different times the two days before she died. They were all three great conversations. Not the kind of conversations a mother and daughter have when they know they're about to say goodbye. Normal conversations- the kind they have on nearly a daily basis, the kind they know they'll be able to pick right back up on the next day. I'm so glad these were my last conversations with my mom. I cherish them. And it's funny how a cheap plastic necklace from Walmart can carry so much meaning for me.

I think I'm always going to hate this day. Something about this day simultaneously brings me farther away from what happened and right back to it all at the same time. And not in a good way. It's been a whole year since those phone conversations and any living memories of my Mom. And everything that's happening right now (face-melting heat, friends moving away, our recent move) are all things that were happening a year ago.

Something I'm extremely grateful for is the kind of mother she was. She was the kind who said "I love you" in every phone conversation. She never held back with her compliments and praises. I know exactly how she felt about me. I will never have to wonder if she is proud of me or if she loves me or if she approves of the decisions I make. These are things I just know. I hope I will follow her example and that my children and husband can say the same about me.

I was always going to post the slide show that was played at my Mom's funeral, but we couldn't find a way to put it online. It's online now and you can view it here if you want.

29 comments:

jayne said...

I wish I had words for you right now. Just know that I'm thinking about you.

Lisa-Marie said...

Katherine,

I am sorry. I hope that every day you will feel more peace. That doesn't mean you won't miss and love her any less, just that the heartache might subside a little.

I will be thinking of you and your family today.

Lisa-Marie

P.S. Your mother was stunningly beautiful. (And from what I have read on your blog over the last year, it seems she was beautiful both inside and out.)

Chrissy said...

Katherine that slide show was beautiful. I can hear your mom's laugh just watching it. I miss her, but I am grateful I had the opportunity to know her. Thank you for sharing.

Sheryl said...

I have had your mom on my heart all week as I have your family. I love that you posted the slide show. I enjoyed, and felt your love and sorrow at her not being here. Thank you for sharing.

We had Grant and Julia over Friday night, and I made the Warner Family "Italian dinner" in your momma's honor. I loved her, I love you kids, and we love having you connected thru our sweet Julia. Your angel mother is missed.

Anne said...

I've been thinking of you and thinking of your mom these last couple days. I am so glad to finally able to see the video. It is beautiful. I love you.

DeGooyer Family said...

Katherine, what a beautiful post, and the slide show was so sweet.

Natalie said...

I can't believe how much you look like your mom! I love you tons!!

The last Unicorn said...

Thank you so much for sharing that Katherine. I love you so much and have been thinking of you and your family a lot lately. Funny how those little things can become so significant... little reminders about people that are so "big".

Jill said...

I am so sorry, you will be in my thought and prayers. We love and miss you!

Grandpa Wayne said...

Katherine- what a beautiful tribute to your mom. Jessica told me I would get choked up reading it and she was right. The memories of that horrible night/week/month of a year ago will fade gradually and what will be left are the sweet things about your relationship with your mom that you are reminded of daily. Those are examples of the tender mercies we all receive from a loving heavenly father who knows us far better than we think. I miss your mom and appreciate your efforts to keep her memory alive.

Lots of love,

Wayne

hayley said...

What a sweet post. What a blessing to know you will be together again with your mother:) Hang in there.

Sara said...

Just wanted to let you know that I'm thinking of you and your family.

Grandpa Wayne said...

Katherine,
Thank you so much for posting your story and slide show. i am really happy it was a part of my day as i remember your mother and the wonderful life she lived and how much she has done for me. i love her so much and i continue to miss her daily. we love you guys and miss you so much. Thank you for all you do kath. Youre truly amazing.

Love,
Vanessa

Shonda said...

Katherine, I am amazed at how much Franny looks like your mom when she was little! Wow! Thank you for posting the slide show. I have a lot of memories of being in that house in Faire Marin when you were just a little kid!

Ashley said...

I came to get the chicken recipe and realized I hadn't commented on this post. Mostly because I don't know how. So I read it again and I'm just so happy you had a good, deep, sweet relationship with her. What a great lady. Despite the little I knew of her personally, I miss her too. Love you.

Jessica said...

Katherine,
I have wanted to call you all day but I didn't know if that would be too much on you today. So I think I will call you tomorrow. Thanks for sharing that wonderful story. I love how there were just little things that happened before her passing that made life a little easier for you all. You are so eloquent and always make me cry. We miss her terribly.

Love you lots,
Jessica

Jodie said...

What a wonderful tribute to your mom, to you and your girls, and to all who knew her. You are an amazing person and you always inspire me. Much love to you at this time.

cari said...

Thanks for sharing this. I too hope that you know that many have you and your family in their thoughts and prayers.

Denae (aka D-dawg) said...

Katherine, I can't even imagine how much you must miss her. I love this story you shared and I"m so glad you have the necklace to remind you of those last few days.

Kristen said...

Katherine, I have so many good memories of times with your mom and your family-fun, funny, sweet, silly, serious times. I remember how she helped our family when we needed it bringing me to tears. I remember a beautiful, thought provoking conversation we shared about light and truth. I so admired her testimony, knowledge and ability to express herself. And of course all the fun adventures and many laughs. She was so smart,lovely, generous and funny. This tribute to her and your eulogy-so beautiful. She raised a wonderful daughter. Love you.

cindy said...

Katherine,
Thanks for putting into words what most of the family is feeling. You are a fantastic writer. As I watched the video again I felt like I knew someone famous. She was famous to us. So many people knew and loved her and I felt so lucky to be a little part of her life and your family. Thanks for continuely sharing your memories and fun stories. I love you so much and I know your mother was so proud of you. We would share stories about our married daughters and how great they were as mothers and wives and women in their own right. She did love you all so much. Her kids were her favorite things to talk about. We did spend hours on the phone doing just that. I miss our phone calls.

I love you.

Chrissie said...

Thanks for this beautiful post. It must have been hard to write because it was sure hard to read. I love the story of the green necklace. Franny is amazing. Thanks for sharing the video. Thanks for letting us share the memory of your mother with you. I love you Katherine!

Tisha said...

What a beautiful post!

rebecca said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts of this day. You are always so inspirational. And, what a beautiful tribute to your mom through pictures! I went to watch it for a minute, but couldn't stop watching it. Every picture of her had so much joy in it. You could tell in each picture with her family, how much she adored each of you. What a wonderful example you've had in your life :) She obviously passed on her passion for life to you because you are such an amazing person yourself :)
Love and miss you!

Holly Moore said...

Oh my goodness, I have such a lump in my throat. I loved your mom soo much. Thank you for sharing that slideshow, your mom was so beautiful (and you guys look just like her) and she was one of the most amazing women I know. I'm thinking about you all right now. All us Tanners love you!

Courtney Vance said...

Katherine, this is Courtney, I use to work with you forever ago at the Courtyard in Provo. I'm so sorry about your Mom. This is the sweetest story I've ever heard. Whenever I seen a green necklace I will think of your mom. I can't imagine the trial that last year has been for you. My dad passed away 9 years ago and there are days when it isn't any easier, but over time, the pain isn't as sharp. I guess our only resolve is that we'll see them again someday and be together and perhaps have someone else working for us on the other side.

Annie said...

Alright... well I have never posted a comment on your blog and I feel kinda bad because your my sister. haha But i felt a need to comment this time. It really hasn't got any easier since last year. For awhile I wouldn't even go to dances because of such horrible memories but im finally over that. It is really hard to deal with it because I love to be happy and don't like showing my feelings to others, but usually when im alone is when i get it out the best. I usually will read in my journal what exactly happened those two days or i will look at pictures of her. This helps me release all thats built up. Im really grateful you posted this because I haven't seen that slideshow for a very long time! I love you lots!
<3 Annie

Sara said...

i had no idea! i'm so sorry that you lost your mom. i can't imagine how much you miss her. what a neat story about the necklace, too. that video was so beautiful and brought tears to my eyes!

Elsie said...

Oh Katherine, that was beautiful. What an amazing tribute....you can tell from the slideshow how much love she had for all of you and how much you all loved her in return. Thank you sharing that with us and for letting us in on your heartache, joys and memories...I am sure that it took a lot of strength to write that post and I want you to know that I think it turned out beautifully. Oh, and just so you know, I think you are great :-)

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