Mom is a little harder to sum up than Dad. She was a complex person, which I mean in a completely flattering way. In fact, she was so complex, it would take several paragraphs to sum her up in one word. So here goes.
The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Mom, is "ahead of her times." I mean, here's a woman who grew up in a teeny tiny town in Oklahoma, and who went off to Yale at the age of 18 like it was no big deal.
"Oh tra la, I've been accepted at one of the finest music schools in the country, hundreds of miles away, where I don't know a soul. I guess I'll pack up and go! Toodle-oo!"
Now, she did do the traditional thing 4 years later. She got married and had children. But she got that music degree first. And she stayed ahead of her times.
When she got pregnant, she had a female doctor. (This was the 1950's, remember. Female doctors were about as common as 2-headed cows. And probably about as popular.) She had natural childbirth, which she insisted was a wonderful, almost spiritual experience. (I think she was probably delirious from the excruciating pain, but she was quite insistent that it was wonderful, so ok.)
She was a working mother in the days of June Cleaver. She was a political activist at a time when many woman didn't even drive, let alone vote. She voiced her opinions, and shared her ideas. (though she had to wait until we were in school, otherwise she'd never get a word in edgewise)
Naturally, the four of us had no appreciation for Mom's skills, projects or opinions when we were kids. We were much more interested in her quirks.
Mom was the slowest eater in the world. So we helpfully timed her meals and counted her chews, snickering and rolling our eyes all the while.
Mom had some funny sayings, like "really so?" and "toodle-oo." So we mimicked her endlessly while snickering and rolling our eyes.
Mom was great at focusing on one thing very intently, while ignoring little distractions like the peas that were burning in the kitchen. So we whispered "hey Mom" over and over, knowing full well she would never hear us, snickering and rolling our eyes and not once thinking that maybe one of us should go turn off the stove before the house burned down.
Yes, Mom was quirky. Mom was complex. And Mom was definitely ahead of her times.
When we talk about her now, I have to admit we still snicker. We roll our eyes. And we wish we could have her back, even for just a day.