Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pure Style.

My sweet mother passed away the evening of April 1 at 6:00p.m. She was my hero.

We put the last photo taken of her (March 26, 2010) in her hospice room to show how vibrant and fun she was right up until the end.

Mother, otherwise known to the world as Charlotte Jane Hunter Petersen, was my first example of pure style. She continued to be a style icon until the hour she collapsed. She was stylish is so many ways; her wardrobe, her makeup, her hair, her home, her recipes, her friends, her teaching, her taste in literature, her personal relationships, the list goes on.

I have learned my most valuable lessons and talents from her. I have learned integrity from her example. I have learned compassion from her, sacrifice and obedience. I yearn to hear her voice and hold her tiny, arthritic hand in mine.

She was a fine woman and beloved by all who knew her. She had quite a fan base, all accolades well deserved. Born into a life of privilege, she faced many challenges when her life took an about face, leaving her to help support her mother after an alcoholic father left the family. There, she met my father, a naval officer and at the age of 17 married him to begin a new life.

My darling 90 year old father at her bedside, giving comfort and pure love.

After 66 years of marriage, they were supportive and loving to each other until the day she passed.

I was able to design her casket flowers with a local wholesaler in Denver. I hand selected the flowers and visually gave my idea of how they should be designed. The liaison to the funeral director watched and listened, and then said, "I think we should speak with our wedding designer rather than our bereavement designer". I knew then she was getting the picture of my vision. We used all green and white; orchids, roses, hydrangeas, ferns, ivy...fresh and not the least bit like the normal funeral spray. I was thoroughly pleased and when we went to look at the in progress design, the floral designer was thrilled that I said I wouldn't change a thing. I know Mom would have been pleased with the beautiful design.

My sister Denise and I put together some centerpieces for a luncheon we planned following the funeral service. I added a tiny punch of orange (my favorite color, of course!) to these medium cylinder vases. They were set in a larger straight-sided frosted vase with tinted chartreuse water as an accent. Happy and beautiful.

As the casket was being put back into the coach, I took note that this was what the interior of my purse looked like.

A rare photo of my entire immediate family. My two daughters, Jessie and Michelle, myself, my son Ryan, and my husband Fred. Many extended family members were gathered from around the states and it was a great comfort.

"How much of my delight in all beautiful things, is due to her influence, I can never tell. There is not a talent, or a joy, or an aspiration in me that has not been awakened by her loving touch".
Helen Keller

These words echo how I feel about this wonderful, Christlike woman; my mother, Charlotte Jane Hunter Petersen.


Millie said...

What a lovely tribute, and wonderful photos. My sympathies to you and your family.

Rettabug said...

Oh my, Susan...what a heart wrenching post yet so full of all the wonderful memories of your Mother. I'm so sorry for your loss. You have a beautiful family & are surrounded by loving arms to support you through this difficult time. May you find Peace through it all.

michelle said...

She was pure style for sure. I'm so glad I was able to be there for that sweet family time.

The Helen Keller quote makes me teary every time.

Lee said...

Lovely Susan, I feel like I knew your mother because I know you and Denise. That photo of her with the cake is so charismatic so alive and it seems to represent her humor, her character and her personality for some reason. I she and my dad and my dog are enjoying a peaceful moment smiling and talking about us together. Who knows?
Love you, Lee

shimmer and spice said...

So sorry for your loss, what a wonderful person to have as a role model

linda said...

I love the Helen Keller quote as well. Your mom had an influence for good in so many lives, what a wonderful legacy to leave behind. I know you and your girls will carry this legacy forward.

Suzanne said...

Dear Susan,
What a lovely post and tribute to your dear mother. Such beautiful photos, too. My sincerest condolences to you and your family, it's obvious she was loved and is missed dearly. Thank you for sharing and celebrating her life with us here, and know that you are loved and are in our thoughts and prayers.

Denise said...

I love how all the bloggers in the family have paid tribute to her in each a slightly different way. I like your take and agree that she sure had style!

Bond Girl 007 said...

What a beautiful tribute to your mother. I have admired your mother through your daughters Michelle and Jessie, your sister Denise and yours. Women, remarkable women like the ones in your family are a reflection of what a daughter of God is in all aspects of life even in the most important of them all--spiritual...may you know that I too admire all of you, and would be delighted to meet you all one day.