One of my biggest fears when I was a little girl was that something bad would happen to my mom when I was away from her. Honestly, it was my absolute biggest fear and it contributed to the anxiety disorders I have endured as an adult. My dad was out of the picture before he was ever really in it, and my fear was that if something would happen to my mom, they (whoever they were) would make me go to my dad. I was so afraid that I would often sneak into my mom’s room at night to be sure she was breathing. On occasion I would pretend that I didn’t feel well in an effort to stay home from school because in my youthful mind I thought nothing could happen to her if I was with her.
As the years went on, my fears of something happening to her lessened, although they didn’t disappear. They lived in the dark corners of my mind where fear and anxiety would occasionally stir them up to remind me of their presence. I grew up, got married, had kids and fought the panic and anxiety in different ways. The fears that gripped me as a child ended up becoming the agoraphobia that kept me from being with the very person I had been so afraid to lose. There is a lot of regret for those years, and I suppose there always may be. If you’ve been following along with my blog, you probably know of the years that agoraphobia stole from my life, and that of my family. But that’s not necessarily what this particular post is about.
On May 4, 2023 my precious mom passed from this life in the wee hours of the morning. My brother called Les (my husband) to let him know, and then Les woke me to break the news to me. There was no panic or fear – just a deep sadness that went as deep into my heart as it could go. We had planned to travel to Galesburg on May 5 with plans to visit my mom on the 6th. Instead, we traveled on the 4th to be with my family. In that weekend and the week to follow, as we gathered and made plans and grieved and remembered and laid her to rest, we celebrated this remarkable woman. A woman who had very little but would still give away what she had. A woman who raised her family alone and fought and worked her way out of poverty. We heard from so many people about her kindness and her infectious smile and the difference she made in so many lives.
As family parted ways and we all went back to our “normal” lives, I was left with an enormous sense of gratitude. I’m grateful for the prayers and support from countless people. I’m so grateful that I was able to spend time with my mom in the past several months and that God healed me of that agoraphobia. I’m grateful for my husband and kids, my brothers and sisters and their families and that we all have each other to keep her legacy going. I’m grateful for the floods of memories that have come to all of us and that we have been able to share them amongst ourselves and with others. I’ve been reminded over and over what a generous, giving person my mom was and what a witty and spunky and opinionated person she was. There are a few personal memories that have warmed my heart and eased that ache that had settled in when I heard she had died.
I remember how she always made an effort to keep my birthday as special as she could considering it was only six days before Christmas. When I turned 10, she rounded up several of my cousins along with my brothers and sister and threw me a surprise birthday party, complete with a Barbie cake, Barbie Colorforms and orange-scented stationery that I can still smell in my mind. It was a beautiful effort to make me feel loved and noticed, and probably the most memorable birthday I’ve had.
I remember one Christmas when her finances were especially limited and she didn’t have money to buy gifts for any of us. She still wanted to make the holiday special so she took personal items of her own and gifted them to us. She gave me her camera, a gift that I will never forget. Although I don’t remember most gifts I received growing up, I remember that one well.
I remember one Christmas season when I was in high school – the choir I was in performed at a Christmas party at Knox College, where my mom worked in food service for decades. I had a solo part in “O Holy Night”, and as we performed the song, I looked up to see that my mom and some of her coworkers has snuck out from the back to see the performance. I will never forget the look of pride she had on her face.
I remember the day of our wedding, my mom had secretly planned for herself to get a makeover, complete with new hairdo and new dress and shoes. She could have shown up in jeans and I wouldn’t have cared, but the fact she did that for me still makes me feel special and loved.
I remember how she came to be with us when our first child, Grant, was born. She was at the hospital all day but didn’t want to be in the room with us. She popped in and out all day, offering encouragement and checking on us, and she was one of the first people to hold Grant. She was there with us when we brought him home from the hospital and again a couple years later when we brought Sarah home from that same hospital to help me know in so many ways that I could be a mom.
I remember how in her last few months she was so proud to have our little boys’ picture hanging in her room at the nursing home. Because Alzheimer’s had taken a lot from her, she couldn’t remember their names – but she knew who they were and was happy to tell them how often she looked at their pictures.
I could go on and on – and maybe from time to time I will. But for now, I want you to know that Georgia Anna Landon Davis, this very special woman, was loved more than I can say by me and so many others. Her impact on this earth will be felt for generations. And I’m grateful for that. And for her.
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