Friday, June 6, 2014

A Memorial to My Mother

Roughly a week ago, my mother passed away unexpectedly. I had been in the garden with my father, and I cut my foot on a tool and went to the house to get some peroxide and say hi to my mom and see if my brother had gotten up, as he'd been sick and was sleeping in. To my surprise, my mother was on the couch looking quite bad, and my brother was on the phone with 911 talking to the operator. I ran to my dad and told him Mom was in trouble, and in that moment everything else vanished from thought.

I was there as my father, a former volunteer firefighter administered CPR while the paramedics were on their way. He had never had to use that before, but in the end it wasn't enough. I held the IV bag as the paramedics worked on her, and I watched, as I prayed, pleading in my mind for anything but this. For all the death in media, there was no desensitization, nothing that could have prepared me for that moment as I knew she was gone, and I had just spoke to her only a few minutes before re-entering the house for my cut. By all accounts she was fine, save for a cold.

The autopsy report concluded that it was an asthma attack, in a woman who's never had asthma a day in her life. At the all too young age of 52, my mother transcended this world and all I could do about it was be thankful that I was there with her when she died. Since then, so much has changed in such a short time. I've tried to go on much as I always have. The entirety of the next day I spent in deep thought and meditation as I tried to work out what has happened to us, my family, my father, sister, and brother. Not wanting to forget the things I thought, I wrote them down and shared them with people at the small service that we had for her. I'm going to post what I wrote at the end of this post, but there is something more I want to say here today.

This is a gaming blog, about fantasy gaming. I spend a lot of time at the Paizo forums, and a heck of a lot of time playing and working on games of all sorts. My mother wasn't much of a gamer, and she never cared to try playing D&D or Pathfinder with us because she thought it just seemed a bit too complicated and not her thing, but if not for my mother none of this would have ever been possible.

When I was a little child she read to me, and she taught me to color with crayons, and play with play-dough. She nurtured my imagination and even if she didn't understand it she did everything that she could to fulfill my wishes and interests. I was two when I first started playing my parent's NES system, and that was that. What followed was a lifetime of imagination, comics, video games, and fantasies, that she rarely understood but still she supported in her own ways (even if sometimes it didn't feel like it). She was one of those parents that was out all night trying to get those damned Power Ranger toys when they came in to the Walmart, which is an often unappreciated fact of parenting (the desire for your child's happiness).

So to all my fellow gamers, to anyone who has ever enjoyed anything I've written, and to everyone who can still hug their mothers goodmorning and kiss their mothers goodnight, I say to you "Cherish those moments". Your entire life can change in a simple moment, so remember to make the most of your time, and think about what really matters in life.

There is nothing I can ever do to honor my mother enough, but this is my attempt to honor her in my circles, in the gaming community. Her name was Daisie Taylor Mohn, but her name could have been your mother's name, or may be your name one day for your children. Names aren't as important as the oft-simple legacies that we leave behind.

My Mother, My Teacher
At first I was going to try to list all of the things that my mom taught me in my life, but I realized that could potentially go on forever, as even now she is still teaching me things like I never would have expected.
However, I realized the most important things that she has taught me thus far, and while she may one day top them still, I'd like to take the time to share them with you, what they mean, and why they matter to me and maybe to others. Please bear this lesson with me, for I will need moments of pause as I go.

Before I go on, it's important to understand that my mother was a unique woman, and many of the things she taught me were indirectly, through not her words but her actions and attitude in life. It's as important to understand the teacher as it is to learn the lessons taught.

I could talk about where she was born, where she lived, where she worked, what her profession was, and so forth, but those are simply facts of her life, and while they say many things about her lifetime circumstances, they will not teach you who I knew her as. So I will do my best to tell you now, and leave the rest to everyone else.

We never really went to church, but through her I learned everything I will ever need to understand about God. Her life was a lesson that will forever transcend the written word in any form of any language, for she lived what others only preach.

I've never seen my mother look down on another human soul. She tried to extend kindness and respect to others even when she received only the opposite. She respected the beliefs of others, and hated no one.

My mother cared for everyone freely, without promise of reward or return. It was often jested that the reason we never had our life in perfect order was because we, or I should say she, spent so much time worrying about everyone else. On many occasions our home, both humble and often patched, stood as a haven away from home for those both with and without one of their own.

Now I say to you again, we have never been ones to go to church much, but I want to share some passages from the bible with you that mean a lot to me, because these passages remind me of my mother, and what she has taught me in my life thus far.

Luke 17:21 says: “Neither shall they say lo here, lo there, for behold the kingdom of god is within you”.

The 77th proverb in the gospel of Thomas, God said: “I am the light that presides over all. It is I that am the entirety, and it is from me that all comes, and it is to me that all goes. Split a piece of wood and I am there. Lift a stone and there you will find me”.

God is inside you, and all around you. Not in a house made of wood or stone. Look around you, look within you, and find him. That is what I have learned from my mother. It is why I feel her even now, standing with us today, returned to all that is. The kingdom of God resided in my mother, as it resides in each of us, and it is now where she resides. She was a champion of that kingdom. Not with sword, banner, or steed, but with grace, love, and laughter.

Like everyone past, present, or future, my mother was not without her imperfections from time to time. However, even her failings worked to teach me the truth of everything. Foremost, that reality is filled with mistakes. We all make them. We all have our moments where we lapse and are not our ideal selves, even within our own sight. I will say that my mothers lapses were far fewer than my own, and that she demanded more from herself than from others.

Now that you know the teacher a little better, let me tell you what she taught me in my admittedly short lifetime.

When I was angry, she taught me to forgive.
When I was spiteful, she taught me to be amiable.
When I was selfish, she taught me to give.
When I was furious, she taught me to be calm.
When I was afraid, she taught me to be brave.
When I was weak, she taught me to be strong.
When I was lost, she inspired me to be found.

My mother taught me to dream, and one day I will make those dreams come true. She taught me to create, and so with that led to a lifetime of thoughts depicted with pictures and words. She has taught me to be a parent, and to love children. She has taught me what it means to love your own family and others.

But the most important lesson, was simply that she taught me to love.

      • J. Scott Mohn,
        in living memories of Daisie Mohn.