August 20, 2009

Honey Not Vinegar

Posted in Life tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 1:00 am by lindaslongview

My mother unexpectedly passed away last week. Nothing prepares you for this…MomMVRBackyardCrop

Although she had been struggling with allergies and pancreatitis weakening her body with constant digestive upset, no one anticipated that additional congestion and lack of sleep from a bad cold would render her lifeless when she finally fell asleep reading a book while my father tended to ranch chores.

My parents’ lives were so entwined it is hard to imagine one without the other. I am grateful that they were able to celebrate their 50th anniversary this past June. Befitting their life journey, they prepared a photomontage capturing their life essence together: joy of young love, stunning scenery across enduring love, and amazing accomplishment as partners in life. As I watched the collection again and again this past week, it reinforced for me just how beautiful, accomplished, brilliant, and quietly adventurous my mother was.

My earliest memories of her were of her books and music. She loved to read and her breadth of knowledge was extensive as a result. She read to us when we were little, cultivating more avid readers. By her own admission, “…I did stretch the rules a bit – reading you the Chinese history that I was currently reading rather than a child’s book…” In addition, she practiced the piano and organ regularly. When I had fallen in love with the music from Man from La Mancha (Impossible Dream), she granted me private mini-concerts when she arrived home from work – she played the selected pieces on the piano for me. Whenever I hear that music, I still hear in my own head the way she played it on the piano.

She taught me the basics of life: be proficient (not extraordinary) domestically and master how to be selective in which tasks you actually commit to doing – work on high leverage projects. I learned to sew, cook, and be selective. It took me a while to realize how unique she really was. I remember when a new girl in the middle school needed a choir dress made, but her mother did not sew. She asked me if my mother could help, so I volunteered her. My mother explained that she didn’t really have the time, but if I would do most of the work, she would do the trickiest steps. Together we made the dress quickly and efficiently. When the other girl’s mother came by with a bouquet of flowers to give to my mother for the help, she was surprised that my mother was at work. The other girl’s mother was so surprised that it was at that moment that I realized how different (and special) my own mother truly was.

MomGraduatingBS_Math2My later memories were of her many professional accomplishments and what lessons that she taught me from her own experience. She was mathematically gifted, having received two degrees in Mathematics. She worked professionally as a computer programmer in the early years of programming (I remember her carrying home huge stacks of computer cards and sorting them on the kitchen table in the evenings!). Later, she received her MBA and worked professionally in Operations and Project Management. Although it seemed dicey to me at the time, I benefited from our shared University time. My last year of engineering school was her first MBA year. During that time, she wrote essays on the challenges of being a professional woman in a male-dominated workforce and shared them with me (I still have them). She quietly provided unsolicited advice, suggestions, and observations. One of the most important lessons that she taught me is that You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” As such, she taught me to cultivate positivity, kindness, respectfulness, and to always have a good strategy – think before you act.MomGraduatingMS_Math2

In some ways, it was hard having a Mom who was so accomplished and successful, but it definitely made it easier to believe that I could do it too. Even though we share many traits, we differed drastically in one domain: she was a musician and I am an athlete. This difference strengthened us because I admired her musical ability as much as she took pride in my athleticism. I never felt that I had to be accomplished in music and she accepted that athleticism was not her strength. Mom skied, canoed, fished, hiked, and tolerated the family adventures knowing that the stunning scenery of mountains, streams, lakes, and valleys visited were worth the effort, but many were often a challenge for her. I was always glad to be able to help her – take a little extra weight in my pack to lighten her load. It helped me to build the confidence that I too could someday be as accomplished as her, but with my own strengths. This experience helped me to truly value diversity and observe and channel the strengths of others.


In later years, I continued to admire her ability to be organized, to be thorough, and to take on new ventures (run a farm/ranch) without prior experience.

Finally, as I rifled through her files and her Quicken entries this past week on my Dad’s behalf, I realized just how lucky my Dad was to have had someone so amazing with which to share his life. It didn’t take a ton of effort to figure out the finances (which she took care of for their 50 years together) and get Dad moving forward without her. Her systems were clear, effective, and well documented. I only hope to leave a long view legacy like hers…

Your memory is a blessing to me. I love and miss you Mom, rest in peace.


  1. Alisa S said,

    Thank you for sharing a bit about the essence of your mother. The wonderful, extraordinary traits you describe are also evident in you. The highest aspirations that we as mothers have have our children is that our children can maneuver successfully through life, cherishing the good, enduring with the bad and ignoring that that does not matter. You are a shining testament to your mother’s life. I am so sorry for your loss.

  2. Sari S said,

    I lost my mom to a brain tumor three and a half years ago after a beautiful 63 year marriage. There isn’t a day that I don’t think about her. We both had terrific role models that allowed us to grow into who we are as women today. I know that you will find comfort in all of your beautiful memories and stories that you can keep alive through your blog. I know that you were a wonderful daughter!

    Love, Sari

  3. Kathy AB said,

    Very dear Linda: I just returned from a visit to look after Mom, who is not well. This, coupled with the fact that my “baby” (who, conincidentally, intends to one-day own and run a ranch) just left for college, has aroused in me a great deal of emotional reflection. So I find the timing of your present life experience oddly, for lack of a better word, “comforting.”

    Thank you for choosing to share your wonderful mother’s story with me. I don’t believe that I ever had the opportunity to meet her. She sounds amazing, just like her daughter.


    Kathy B.

  4. Martha K said,

    Linda, you wrote a beautiful testament to your mom. I feel lucky that I had a chance to get to know her while working on their “Life Journey Video”. She truly was remarkable.

  5. Leah B said,

    Dear Linda: Thank you for sharing your mother’s wonderful life’s story with us. She sounds amazing, so many talents and such excellent views. It also helps me to understand you better. I know you will always gain strength and wisdom from your mother and her life and while she is no longer here she is still inside of you and your family.

  6. Shannon said,

    I’m so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute to her in your post. She sounds like an amazing woman and I’m sure she was very proud of the amazing daughter she raised.

  7. Muzong said,


    What a blessing testament of your mom. Thank you for sharing the beautiful story. I learned a lot from your mom through her beautiful life. I’m so sorry for your loss.


  8. Anne S. said,

    Your mother sounds like an extraordinary individual. What a blessing it is that you realize that, and appreciate her attributes. She will be with you always, and will continue to guide you as you remember her words, and seek her example when troubled.
    May G-d bless you and your family.

    Shalom, Anne

  9. Michelle B said,

    Dear Linda….
    Thank you so much for sharing your extraordinary mom through this wonderful tribute. I am so moved and impressed with her story. And what a blessing for her to have loved and been loved by such a talented, beautiful and admiring daughter.

    There is nothing that can prepare us for losing a loved one, especially a parent.
    My heart goes out to you completely.

    May her memory be for a blessing, and may you eventually find comfort in the days to come.

  10. Becky B said,

    What a beautiful, heart-felt story of your mother. She was an amazing woman – I agree! Wow. I was very moved – both by her obvious love for you and you for her – but for who she must have been as a person to have been so talented, so wise, so caring. What a role model!

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m glad she was able to celebrate 50 years with your dad – and I know he realizes how fortunate he was to be part of such a partnership. The people you credit with teaching you how to write, haven’t taught you how to write. They only released the ties that you believed kept you from writing. The more you touch your heart and dare to be yourself, the better your writing will be. That’s really the secret you know. Good stories, compelling writing is writing from the heart. The heart is powerful and too often we keep it locked down – fearing its power. As you can see – the heart’s power is not man’s power. The heart loves….so keep letting it soar. You’re doing well. I’m proud to know you…you are your mother’s daughter…

  11. Mike C. said,

    I am so sorry to hear about your loss. You mother sounds like such an extraodinary woman in her own way. I can see some of her special traits that have been passed down to you and if it is any consolation, those of us that have had the pleasure to know and work with you have also had the benefit of learning some of these life lessons through our interaction with you.
    take care,

  12. Yuping T said,

    Dear Linda,
    Thank you so much for sharing your mom’s beautiful life story. Your mom is truly a wonderful person– so talented, accomplished, and gifted in so many ways! I’d like to let you know that I’ve seen so much of your mom’s traits in you! I see that you are carrying on her legacy!
    I’m so sorry for your loss.


  13. Aya S said,


    Thank you for sharing this with me. Your mother was clearly a remarkable and talented woman, and it it reflected in who you are – full of life and energy, always looking for the best way to approach a task or undertaking. You are fortunate to have had a mother like her.

  14. Deborah said,

    Mom’s are a wonder… Glad to hear about yours.

  15. Dawn-Marie said,

    Hi Linda,

    So sorry to hear about your mom; what a lady. They say your parents are your first teachers; this is obviously so for you. What great memories to have and to share with your children and their children.


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