It’s the paper before the election, and I’m not talking politics.
That’s because something more important happened beyond pontificating about who our next anti-freedom “leader” will be. (OK, I got one in, and Mom would smile and be proud.) The rest of this column will be all about the woman who gave me life, who was my biggest fan and was my teacher (she took her chosen occupation well beyond her career when it came to my constant need for lessons) literally until the day she passed, which was about 3 a.m. Oct. 16, 2016.
Mom passed in peace at HopeWest with her lifelong partner of nearly 60 years sleeping nearby. She was 91. Mom’s battle with her degenerating heart had raged for two decades. In the end, we all know which side wins.
Mom passed for the simplest of reasons: Her heart just plain gave out. There was nothing left for it to give. It had freely handed out all the love that was in it, and it was time. It all happened much sooner than her family hoped. But her passing happened just as her Lord and she had planned — simply resting and waiting for word to come home.
I don’t really have the words to describe the void I feel today, the huge missing piece to life my kids will feel in the future or especially the sadness of my father. You see, the woman we knew always had love in her heart, a seemingly never-ending supply. Mom knew she didn’t have infinite love to give and tried valiantly to warn us one day we’d face life without her. It’s just today that some of those memories are starting to click as Mom intended, even though they were delivered about as plainly and lovingly as anyone could.
My connection with Mom was special, and she told me so. You see, Mom died once before — and yes, she saw her family in the light but was told, “not yet, Dolly” — during a quadruple bypass about 20 years ago. She talked and questioned often about why God sent her back. To Mom, the answer came not so long ago when she realized her role in my life as I made the transition to single dad (although Mom would argue adulthood, FINALLY) just a few short years ago. Her role was to prepare me for the rest of my life, not just life without her. It was also to help me with my daughters, who adored her, and in making them the wonderful young ladies they are today. And finally, she was the never-ending source of love and company for my Dad. And she did all of that until heart told her she’d given all the love that was available.
Mom sure saw a lot in her 91 years, as anyone would. There’s been the wonderful, the routine and heartbreaking. Mom was born June 16, 1925 in Montvale, N.J. She was the only daughter of Walter and Marion Bardell, among three kids including Walter and Robert. Her brother Walter — “Sonny” — was killed in a sledding accident when Mom was very young, the first among more than a few untimely deaths during Mom’s life. Mom went on to be a wonderful student, graduating with honors from Montclair State Teacher’s College and earning a master’s degree from Columbia University — all before her 20th birthday. Mom’s continuing education culminated with her achieving a doctorate in education degree from Wayne State University after her kids were grown.
In her younger days, Mom enjoyed sports like basketball (she would expect a peach basket joke from me about now) and field hockey. She loved acting and was part of more than a few theater groups. And, of course, her studies brought her a love of teaching that has benefited countless folks and their kids and grandkids. Mom’s influence in life went well beyond her many classrooms.
I’m not sure you would call the bringing up of four sons born barely three years apart wonderful or heart breaking, but it was certainly not routine. Mom did this while at times working two jobs so Dad could finish his degree. She never missed a game or performance, something even this perennial second-stringer appreciated. She got us all to adulthood and parenthood in spite of our
hell-raising, knowing our kids would pay us back double what we did to her.
Mom lived through more heartbreak as well, including the passing of her parents way too young. But by far her biggest test in life was losing her identical twin sons to heart attacks only fives weeks apart in 2000, just a few years after surgery on her own heart. Since that summer, mom fought through several serious ailments and hospital visits up to this last one, to which she finally succumbed.
But through it all she saw the blessings: nine grandkids, including my two who never would have arrived without my brothers’ passing, a chance to continue teaching because my girls were here and the abundant blessings of a long and still active life. Mom’s glass was way more than half full. It overflowed.
To me, she still died way too young. But I know my brothers are happy to see her. And because of that, my heart overflows. My mom will be dearly missed.
Marilynn Rose (Bardell) Hall
June 16, 1925 — Oct. 16, 2016