Marsha, Marsha, Marsha. Or, how many moms you got?

Life gives you lots of mothers.”

It’s true. I’m blessed with an amazing “real” mom. But I’ve been guided and comforted by many other moms, too.

There was Debby, the woman I worked with in college, who drove me home – completely out of her way – when it was really cold. And Mylene, the coworker at my first job in a big city, who took me under her wing – and then freakin’ helped me move out of a very bad situation. And Lynn, who took one look at me and knew I could use a funny and kind friend. All such important mothers.

Growing up, I had Marsha. She was BFF’s mom, and her house was always open. She and her husband were the kind of folks who never carpeted their family room, so the kids could hang out there and not have any worries.

Marsha had a huge laugh and was always going off on an adventure. She biked across Iowa and then around the Netherlands three times. She broke her wrist learning how to rollerblade when she was … a lot older than I am now.

Marsha passed away a few weeks ago.

It wasn’t unexpected, and it was in many ways a relief. Alzheimer’s is the worst, worst, worst.

I was so focused on being present and strong for BFF. We cleaned out her mom’s room at the care center. We joked about all the casseroles and all the folks stopping by the house.

Our posse did shots in the bathroom of the funeral home.

We climbed to the top of the rocket slide in the city park late at night, still dressed up from the visitation.

We looked like adults even if we were scared kids.

It was OK.

And then the morning of the funeral, as a dear friend and I were walking towards the church? I saw the hearse. And I turned away and said, “Hold on – I need to stand here and lose my shit.”

They were going to take Marsha away. I’d seen her. I knew she was gone. But a hearse? A hearse made it real. So I stood on a sidewalk and made guttural noises into a dainty handkerchief.

We all need a mom, and I have been fortunate to have many good ones.

At the funeral luncheon in the church basement, I sat with BFF’s brother. We hadn’t seen each other in at least 15 years. He said he was surprised to learn I didn’t have kids.

“Well, things didn’t turn out the way I planned,” I said. And then some spirit took over my body and I continued, “But this way I get to focus on being the best aunt. And we all have many mothers, and I get to be a surrogate mom to the people around me. Like your mom was for me.”

Yes. Just like that.

I promise to pay it forward, Marsha. Thank you.

Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like

No Comments

  • Reply Shannan July 20, 2018 at 6:49 pm

    I'm so glad that you had Marsha and I'm so glad you shared how you felt about her here. I'm very sorry for your loss, and what sounds like a loss for the world at large, but very grateful that her spirit of love lives on through you and the many others she touched.

  • Reply sherilee July 20, 2018 at 7:41 pm

    Oh geez. Reading this at my desk while I munch a salad over lunch, and tearing up. Yes to mothers existing in other places than bio moms, and yes to paying it forward. So well said. Hugs to you at such a difficult time.

  • Reply Karen (formerly kcinnova) July 20, 2018 at 9:26 pm

    Be Marsha.

    I just burst into tears, and I swear I took my meds today. Be Marsha. And be comforted that she was your other mom and you are paying it forward.

  • Reply Ernie July 20, 2018 at 10:34 pm

    Oh no. So sad. Hate that damn Alzheimers. So very sorry for your loss. I agree with you about other people mothering us. My best friend growing up was the oldest of 7. I loved her house. No one cared that the house was a mess. I was so comfortable there and her mom was always ready to hear whatever we had going on. She once told me that I could take my sneakers off while I was in her house. I was like 12 yrs old. I responded with, 'that's OK it is easier to walk on the kitchen floor when it is this sticky if I keep my shoes on.' The minute I said it I knew I had messed up. She just laughed her head off.

    I literally squealed when I saw that you had posted something. I so enjoy reading your blog!

  • Reply Green Girl in Wisconsin July 23, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    I love that you said those things to her son. Absolutely perfect kindness and love in that act.
    And I raise my glass with you to the bonus mothers who fill gaps!

  • Reply Becky July 27, 2018 at 1:46 pm


    I'm ever so grateful to all my other mothers that had a hand in raising me. And I'm even more grateful to the other mothers my girl has – trust me, we appreciate you more than you will ever know. It takes a village.

  • Leave a Reply