Saturday, December 19, 2009

In Memory of my Mom

Norma Jean (Greenwald) Thurlow
February 23, 1940 - December 19, 1986

Me and Mom our last Christmas together, December 1985

On this date, December 19, 1986, 23 years ago my mother passed away. She was 46 years old when she died. Not only did I lose my mother, but I also lost my nurturer, my adviser, my guardian, my children's grandmother and my best friend.

Around supper time on December 19, 1986 I received a call from my stepfather telling me that my mother had had a heart attack after lunch at work and was in the hospital. I was living in Rapid City at the time with my first husband. We had been married all of 3 months. My step dad, Joe, told me not to worry, that she would be fine, but it would be a good idea if we could come home. He thought it would be okay for us to come in the morning, but I felt a burning urgency to leave right then. Rapid City was about a 3 1/2 hour drive away from where my parents lived. It was one of the longest drives of my life, all the time wondering why did my mom have a heart attack? Why was this happening to me. Hoping that she would be okay and anxious to see her and to let her know how much I loved her.

We got to the hospital around 10 pm, don't really know the time for sure. So much of the time spent at the hospital remains a blur. My mom's condition worsened while we were on the road. My sister was there and we clung to each other in disbelief as we sat with our mother who was "tubed" and unable to speak to us. She was in and out of conscientiousness much of the time. I can remember wondering what she was thinking. I wanted so badly to communicate with her, yet was unable. I told her over and over that I loved her. I can remember getting physically sick at one point because of my emotional pain was stronger than I was. She passed away around 11:30 pm.

I have wonderful memories of her. She would kill me if she knew I was sharing this one with you, but my mom could walk down the stairs into our living room and pass gas with each step of the stair! LOL, sorry mom! That's talent if you ask me! I can remember what a fantastic gardener and seamstress that she was. She always spoke nicely about everyone. She had a keen sense of style and loved to decorate. Our house was spotless yet full of love and comfort! She was always at every school function that I had. She was late bringing my dress to the church for my wedding! She was 4' 11" but swore she was 5 foot! There are so many more.

One of the things I miss most about my mother is just the pure joy of her presence. I am deeply saddened that my children never knew her and that my husband, Dan the Man, and his family never knew her either.

I know my sister is probably bawling by now... sorry Lori! But one of the reasons I feel so compelled to write this is because I want you to know that I love you more than I have ever told you. I want you to know that especially because I truly believe in the real significance of the meaning of Christmas.

I believe that Jesus Christ was born on Christmas morning and is the son of God. He was sent by God the Father, to this earth to be born of a virgin, to die for our sins and to rise again to conquer sin and give those who believe in His name eternal life in heaven. I believe that people do not "get to heaven" by any action or deed that they themselves do, but only are given eternal life by accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Seems something so significant as eternal life should be so easy to share with those that you love, but for some reason, it hasn't been for me. I also know several people who struggle with telling those they love what they believe in, what they have faith in. Why is it so? If any of you struggle with this, know that you are not alone. If any of you have questions about my beliefs or want to know more, I'm open to talk about them. My beliefs are based on the truth of the bible, not the words of any man or religion.

Days before my mom died, she called and asked when we were coming home for Christmas. I told her that we probably wouldn't be able to because we couldn't really afford to. She was disappointed at the time but let it pass. This note was found in my mom's car the day that she died in an envelope along with some money ready to mail to me.

It reads, "Dear Kathi & Dale- How do you like my stationery? I'm siting in my car and this is it. I hope this is enough money so you can come home for Christmas. I think it would be very nice to have you here for Christmas. Love- mom."

I don't know why I keep it, but it does my heart good to read it, especially the part that says "Love- mom". I love seeing her handwriting. Maybe I'm weird, but I don't care.

This is my all time favorite picture that I have had of my mother for as long as I can remember.

PS, I love and miss you Mom!


  1. You did her justice sis.

    Love Ya! Lori

  2. Beautiful. She was a great lady. I always loved your house. It was always so warm and wonderful and that was because of her love and joy.

  3. What a great tribute - thru the tears I can imagine her walking down the stairs doing that. Why didn't she do that when your friends were visiting - ha. I can also picture being inside your house again; I never drive thru Mitchell without remembering those times and thinking of her always redecorating one of the rooms. And to think that we are almost the same age that she was - where has the time gone. God Bless Norma!

    Enjoy your Christmas in Tokyo! Love, Rhonda