I can not belive it has been a year since she has been gone. Last November was one of the hardest months our family had to deal with. I am proud to say we did amazing at being a family, if even for that month. We took turns staying with Bam, bringing food, cooking, cleaning, telling stories, sitting quietly, and just being a family. It was great to see everyone come together regardless of previous opinions or our busy schedules. We did what we had to do. It was nice to see all the extended family, old and new friends, and neighbors stop by to see someone who touched so many lives. It was so hard to watch her fade away and it was easy some days not to go cause it broke your heart to see her like this. Looking back I wished I would have spent a lot more time with her. I am going to learn from my mistakes and cherish the memories I do have.
I have been saving this for the past year as I knew it would be hard to open and read and I was right it was, as I sit here crying now. Bam was our center and there is not a day that goes by that I do not think of her. My mom wrote this for the funeral, I have no idea how she got up there and spoke but she did and she nailed it!
“Did you ever know that you’re our hero. You’re everything we wish we could be.” How do you say goodbye to someone who is so important in so many lives? So, instead of goodbye, we say “until we meet again, she is just away.”
Who is this person we call Harriet, Bam, Gerti and even self-proclaimed “Tiger” (Gerti’s letters rearranged)? She is one of the strongest people we know. In troubled times she would tell us “we have to accept the things we can not change.” As we struggled, she stepped along never missing a beat. In 1984 she lost her oldest grandchild, Kim, to a car accident. In 1989, she lost her mother, husband and 5-year-old granddaughter Stacie. She survived…we survived because of her. She never gave up even when faced with Kidney Cancer, then Breast Cancer 10 years later. She was a fighter and knocked out anything that came in her ring. Even in the past few months, as sick as she was, she continued to fight, never giving in.
Life wasn’t easy for her, she talked about being her father’s helper on the farm. Told stories of what it was like to grow up with 9 siblings and a mother who was raising them all. She married young and was blessed with 6 children, the 7th passed at birth, but she always told how lucky she was to have 6 healthy children. Dad was working on the railroad, she was at home with all of us. Of course, when we did wrong, it was her fault per dad, because she was at home.
She told stories of walking to the store with all of us kids and by the time she got there she had all the neighbor kids along too. Everywhere we go people ask, “how is your mom?”
Then came the grandchildren..how she loved them all. She didn’t have money for material things, but gave them so much more. They love to spend the night…many times the week. Kenny and Kevin pretended to fall asleep on the couch so they didn’t have to go home. Joe crying all the way home because he had to go to school and couldn’t stay the night. Jennifer a happy little girl because Bam always said, “it’s okay, leave her with us.” Jayme stayed once a week while her parents worked, making our lives better. Ebben, Jeff and Shannon making her life complete. Kyle and Jason drifted away, but she never forgot them. She loved them all. Along came the great-grandchildren and great great grandchildren, as they gathered in her home, each has a special place in her heart. They all have special memories all their own.
Mom, you will never know the impact you made in our lives. As a tribute to you, we gather, surrounding you and each other. We will take care of each other, as you did all of us. Our lives richer, fuller, better because we were loved. “Don’t cry because you lost me, smile because it happened.” When we think of you we will smile. Your humor, your wit, your never-ending strength and of course your amazing cooking skills. Thanks for passing them on to Cheryl, although as you tell us “she has a ways to go” Favorite Bam meals, we each had them and we always knew they would be ready for us when we visited.
We thank you for all you have given us. Our love for you continues to grow. “We can fly higher than and eagle, because you are the wind beneath our wings.” Through our laughter and our tears we know that we will meet again.
I know I have posted this picture before but this day is one of my favorite days I had ever spent with Bam. I worked all night and went with her for her parasentisis. We waited for over 2 hours, the doctor was late. She was so tired but she wanted to go so I could see how it was done. I sat in the room while they drained bottle after bottle of fluid out of her abd. For lunch I got her a turkey reuben from Bernies, she loved those things. We all ate lunch together then went into to take a nap. Bam and I ended up talking about why she never drove, where she would go on vacation if she could, the old telephone system in North Chemung. We watched the forensic corner show and were annoyed together every time they showed the Duggar family with the 19 children. We were both exhausted but kept going cause we did not want our day to end. Then next morning I got an email from my mom it she told me how Bam slept all night, which never happened. I think we tired each other out!
So what are your favorite memories of Bam?
Life is short make as many memories as you can!