It’s time for one of those difficult blog posts.
Our mother passed away early on Valentine’s Day.
She had muscular dystrophy and COPD. So it’s no wonder we—and the doctors—didn’t recognize the symptoms of the brain tumor until the week she died.
And that’s all I want to say about that, because it’s too hard to think of the woman I knew as mother as other than the loving, gracious, tough woman that Mary Woolsey was.
She was first a wife and mother. We found a letter from my father early in their marriage asking her to turn his brown combat boots black using a stiff brush and shoe polish, and send them to where he was serving in the Army. By Thursday, please. I’m positive he got the boots in time.
She would move aside living room furniture and play soccer with my competitive-soccer-playing brother, fully intending to beat him. She taught my young sister about trust when she told her the secret to getting into the little desktop safe.
She took a vicious red pen to all my writing; she is the one who taught me the dream of becoming a published novelist could be mine.
Mom believed fiercely in me, as she believed in all three of us kids and Dad.
Our spouses were never her in-laws. They were family. Each of them was, and is, one of us. She believed in them as well.
Yes, of course, the grandkids were her heart. My daughter knew her as the “gift” grandma. Yet her gifts to any of the grandchildren were personal, meaningful to who they are as individuals—never a grandmother’s attempt to spoil. She believed in them, too.
Her nieces speak of how she was always there for them, and how they remembered her as a woman of humor, a woman they enjoyed being around.
Mom was a creative soul. Writing, poetry, painting, beadwork…her creative side would never stay quiet. I saw that clearly on vacation with her at a Texas timeshare. I woke up and went looking for Mom. There she sat on the veranda in a bright red floral robe, stock still as hummingbirds flittered around her. (And here is where tears well up…I can’t call and ask Mom if hummingbirds flit, or if they flitter.)
She was a journalist. She met queens and presidents (Nixon and Johnson). She taught generations of journalists how to be journalists. As a reporter herself, then city editor, then managing editor of the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, she interviewed mayors, governors, Senators, Representatives—stood toe-to-toe with them when necessary.
She taught us to stand, unafraid, for right.
She taught us respect and gratefulness for the people in our lives.
She taught us the power and importance of family.
That is the Mary Woolsey I knew.