Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom

April 3rd will be my mother's 57th birthday. In August of this year she will have been gone from us for 3 years and I always try, during holidays and birthday's, to honor and remember her in a way I know she would like. I no longer visit her grave on these days; I visit around these specific days because I know she would not want to be remembered at her grave. She is no longer there anyway, so I try to go to a place where I know she would love to be herself. On her birthday I typically go to Cox Arboretum to see all the beautiful spring flowers in bloom and you will probably find me there again this year.

I wanted to write about my mom and put some of my thoughts on paper (or website). I have so many fun memories of my mom and I am afraid someday I will forget them and they are all I have left of her. This writing may take a while to get through so I am sorry if it gets to be too long.

My mom Nanny Constance Hoff ( Connie) was born April 3rd 1952. She was the third girl to be born in her family and would soon be followed by two more girls giving her 4 sisters to grow up with. My mom told me many stories of her childhood but a few stick out more than others. My mom was very fair complected, she had very blond hair and freckles. She was teased without mercy in elementary school and was called Freckled Face Nanny Goat. This upset her as it would any child so my grandfather painted her bike and gave it spots (freckles). This made her happy and it made a huge impact showing her how much her father loved her and it made her see how special she truly was. If she told me this story once she told it to me 100 times, it really made her feel loved.

Left to right.... Tina, my mom, grandma, Bonnie Shelia Sharon

My grandfather also built her a play house. This play house became her magical play house where she would have Barbie fashion shows, club meetings and tea parties. She helped her daddy build this house from the ground up and it meant more to her than anything. She loved it so much that once she had outgrown the house he disassembled it and stored it so she could some day give it to her daughter. (me) :) I too have fond memories of this playhouse....I looked forward to spring every year where I would "spring clean" it and chase all the mice out of the cupboards. It brought my mom great joy to see my love for the play house she had loved so dearly.

My mom shared a room with her older sister Sharon and she told me many stories of the times she and Sharon would sit on their beds and listen to their records. I know she and Sharon had a special bond after sharing a room together for so many years.

My mom loved animals. She had Boston Terriers growing up and she always talked about Buddy and Sissy. Buddy always protected their back yard while the girls would play and would chase away all the boys in the neighborhood; he didn't like boys. She said her cat Tom ate her sister's bird while she was watching it and it traumatized her for a long time. She has several hamsters and her daddy built mazes for them to crawl through. One of her hamsters was named inky because my grandpa said he kept running out of his pen. :) My grandpa made me a maze too for my hamster Ringo.... my grandpa was an amazing, kind hearted man and I loved him very much.

My mom loved music.... she loved music from a very young age and she continued to love music until the day she died. I know she is enjoying the music in heaven and she can't wait for us all to get there so she can have us sit with her and listen to it together. I spent many, many nights listening to old 45's with my mom. She had her favorites and sometimes I would get sick of hear the same song over and over again and now those songs are very precious to me and I smile thinking of her every time I hear them.

My mom loved the Lord. She told me stories of how she would make a promise to give money to the missions at church. She said her promise would be of an amount she knew she couldn't raise on her own, it would have to be God working through her to raise the money. She always made the amount she had promised down to the penny. She taught Sunday school and was at church every time the doors were open. She remembered the day she asked Jesus to come into her life like it was yesterday and would tell of the story often.

My dad was the love of her life. She shared stories with me about their youth group at church and about how she thought my dad was the best looking thing she had ever seen. She said she didn't think my dad even noticed her but obviously he had. She told me how nervous she was when he came to their house to visit and how excited she was to date him. My mom said she thought my dad looked a lot like Elvis, which was another love of her life. She really liked Elvis, she loved his music (especially his gospel music).

Dad really does look like Elvis in this picture.

Jack and Jill

My mom also loved movies and TV shows. I remember sitting up late at night with my mom watching TV Land into the wee hours of the morning. We would watch old shows like the Groucho Marks show, Doby Gillis, Leave it to Beaver, I Married Joan, Bewitched, Green Acres, I dream of Jeanie... you get the picture....OLD shows. :) We had a great time together. She always had a love for movies, however it wasn't until I was married and out of the house that she started collecting movies. She loved buying new movies and when they all started coming out on DVD.... well, she bought them all over again on DVD. I think if she were still alive today she would start all over again and purchase them all on Blu-ray. :) She would have loved the real life feel Blu-ray movies have and I think of her every time I watch a movie on our new HD flat screen with Blu-ray.... she would have loved it. Around the age of 43 my mom was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and as the arthritis started to creep in, her movies and TV became one of her favorite past times.

My mom was fun. She loved to laugh and she loved to joke; this was my grandfather in her. I remember laying in her bed, sticking our feet in the air and holding our big toes up and saying "ayyyy" like the Fonz on Happy Days. I remember her reading books to me and changing the tone of her voice for each character. I remember tea parties and times when we would set up all my Fisher Price toys and make a village and play all day. I remember her allowing me to make mud pies (as long as I kept them outside). :) I remember huge birthday parties with what ever theme I wanted. I remember Disney movies, the zoo and circus'. I remember vacations and school clothes shopping. I remember long nights sitting on her bed and talking about everything under the sun. I remember talking about arguments I had with my friends and her never being able to forgive them long after I already had. :) I remember her allowing me to take the love of MY life on vacation with us (which was huge because we NEVER took friends on vacation). She told me she remembered me saying how romantic it would be to walk the beach with someone you cared about.... so she asked Greg if he wanted to come to Florida with us. One of the most funniest vacations Greg and I have been on yet. :)

My mom loved the colors pink and purple, she loved roller coasters, she loved her birds Buddy and Petee, she loved sweets, (especially white cake with white icing) she loved the old clock that still hangs in my dad's kitchen because they received it as a wedding gift. She loved her family, she loved to read, she loved eating crushed ice. I remember bringing home several bags of crushed ice from the nursing home I used to work for so she could eat it. It was the perfect ice she would say. She loved her tray of precious belongings that sat next to her couch in the front room.... no one was EVER to touch it. :) My mom loved shoes, she loved purses... she loved anything stylish or pretty. My mom loved new night shirts and socks...she was easy to buy for at Christmas. She loved getting mail; especially if they were packages with movies in them.

Her baby Petee

My mom went with me to hear Leslie's heart beat for the first time when I was pregnant because Greg wasn't able get off work. This is very special to me now that she is gone... I am so glad we were able to share that moment together as mother and daughter. She took pictures of me when I was pregnant with both our kids (which I am glad she did because they are the only pictures I have of me pregnant) she always wanted to see my naked belly and she would rub and talk to it. She spoiled our kids rotten and would buy them anything they wanted. Leslie pointed to a 3 foot tall Bugs Bunny in the mall one time and sure enough my mom had to buy it for her. It was larger than Leslie and it barely fit in the stroller, it wasn't cheap either. My mom fully believed in the motto "you can't take it with you when you die" when it came to money.

She always fixed my hair and I looked like I just stepped out of a magazine. She would wash my hair each night and use Dippity Doo (hair gel) and put my hair in curlers for the next day. I didn't like my hair brushed or messed with much so my mom made a song out of it. Dippity Doo chi chi chi chi chi chi.... Dippity Doo.. then we would make up commercials for Dippity Doo while I sat in front of the mirror. She also helped me memorize our phone number by putting it to a song... to this day I remember my phone number from when I was five....256-2275.

Me with my brother Jamie (notice the curlers) :)

I wish I could go back and replace the arguments with laughter... I regret every unkind word that was shared between the two of us. Life is so short and it is so foolish to spend time finding faults in those you love. One day they will be gone and all you will have left are the good times, the times you laughed, the times you loved and you will yearn for more. I know this is human nature and we always play the game of what ifs.

Scriptures say death will come like a thief in the night and that was just the case with my mom, she died peacefully in her sleep. God gave me one last gift before she died..... one last visit with her. Although I had no clue it would be the last conversation, the last laugh and the last hug I would share with my mother, it was a true gift. 3 days prior to her death we had a wonderful visit , she was feeling good and she was her old self without the arthritic pain. We reminisced about the old days a bit, talked about our kids and how big they are, made plans for Thanksgiving (even though it was only August) :), and talked about renting a house boat on Lake Cumberland over Labor Day. I told her I loved her when I left and she gave me a big hug and kissed my neck. How I wish I would have made that hug last a little longer.... how I wish I would have stayed a while longer and visited just a bit more. I can't go back, but I can cherish the memories that she has left behind.

It makes me think a lot about myself as a mother... what memories am I leaving behind?? I want the last words I say to my loved ones to be good ones, ones that will carry them through until I see them again. Since death will come like a thief in the night I need to stay on my toes (or on my knees) to make sure I live my life in a way that I can be taken home at any time and leave my family with good thoughts.

My mother is in a wonderful place, she is whole again and is the person God created her to be. She no longer suffers from arthritic cold fronts or rain storms, she is happy and free and that is why it would be very selfish for me to ever wish her back on this earth again.

Happy Birthday Mom, I love and miss you!


  1. Rach - this was so beautifully written. Loved seeing all the pictures. In your baby photos - you and Leslie look EXACTLY alike!

  2. Do you still have the playhouse?