October 6, 1932 – August 21, 2004
Note: this is an unedited version of what I shared on Sept. 11 2004 at Marvel’s memorial service at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Ames, Iowa.
By Andrew Skadberg
I have been accused of not being very organized when my thoughts come out. In that way I think I’m a lot like Mom. So I’ll start with a little disclaimer about this upcoming sharing. Some are just statements, some are ramblings, but I purposely didn’t refine my ideas too much because they came to me in inspiration. So if they don’t make a lot of sense, don’t fret they probably are not something to spend too much time trying to figure out.
I’ve been pondering what to say for the last couple of weeks—hoping for some bright inspiration. I thought about writing a poem. But only hokey ones came to me. Mostly I was not worried, because if nothing came to me I could just say the serenity prayer, Mom left that with me.
Mom gave me life twice, when I was born and gave it to me a second time (rescued from a wild un-reflected life at a fairly young age, its too long a story,—thanks Mom). And I carry the serenity prayer as my primary montra.
But my inspiration for this talk did come to me in my sleep (5:17 am in the 12 Oaks Inn in Gainesville, Texas) Thursday, as I was sure it would if it needed to. That’s about intuition—and I have an intuition that intuition is somehow related to a gift Mom gave me that I’ll talk about briefly.
This is kind of weird talking about Mom—what do you say? Thanks for everything. If it weren’t for you I couldn’t be here talking to ya’ll. No matter, here goes the thoughts that flowed into my head a couple of days ago.
Mom was the toughest person I knew. And I mean that in the best of ways, because of how she was able to bear out the challenges of her life.
She also lived with a lot of gusto-I think sometimes through her kids.
Dad told you about the time at the baseball game when Mom was yelling so loud it was embarassing me. I was pitching and having some difficulty getting the ball across he plate. Mid-stream I turned and looked directly at Mom and said "I can't pitch to left handers". Mom was always enthusiastic at our sporting events.
Her body didn’t cooperate too well. I think she got too live some of her life through me. She kept prodding (encouraging) me. And didn’t give up. And I’m still going about my life in the way that she prodded me. Don’t settle for less than my best. And just keep trying—so that’s what I’m doing. It’s been quite an adventure Mom.
I don’t want to sound arrogant, but ironically that’s what it's all about for me isn’t it. Me! That’s what Mom gave me first, but that’s not the real gift that I’m talking about.
I also know she’s not gone. Even though I wonder and have hopes for other things for her in some sort of continued existence or consciousness like heaven, Nirvana, life after death, reincarnation, or “white Lights” or anything like that—those things I don’t know—so in that way I don’t know that she’s not gone.
But, even though I don’t know about that stuff I do know that she’s not gone—really! Yes, I think I’m used to hearing the saying after people die that they remain in our hearts or other sentimental statements similar to that. But yesterday when I sat and wrote this out I really knew that she was not gone. And those sayings took on a much deeper meaning.
Here’s the gift Mom left us. . . .
She left us her heart (and Mom’s heart was about Love)(yeah Dad it's half your heart too). And today’s about you too.
And when this inspiration came to me on Thursday I understood that I had to be courageous to share more personally how I do know, that she left us her heart.
Because it’s in me.
Of course I know it was in Laurie and it's in Mark and Kari (because I know what kind of people they are), but to share about me is very hard because it’s very close to my heart.
And when I get close to there I tend to get protective and scared to open up for whatever reason that’s really not important.
I think anyone who knew Mom knew that she was dominated by her heart. Of course as with everyone there was some complicatedness to that. Coping with a heart like Mom’s in a world where troubles endure for people like they do, that’s not easy on hearts like hers. It causes some challenges. But that never stopped Mom’s heart
Again not to sound arrogant, but I have learned in this journey of life, at least to this point, that it’s all about the heart. And our journey is about finding our own heart. That is where the great secret lies. So, because I know that, I have spent some time trying to learn about my heart. Intellectually, I don’t know what that means (the statement “learn about my heart”). But in my heart I do—I think. In my mind I’m scared to talk about my heart to Ya’ll because I don’t want to sound arrogant—conceited or self absorbed, or weird, or stupid, or maybe I’m afraid because in this world I tend to get protective of my heart, I suppose in order to cope day by day with the pains of the world. But in my heart I know it’s what I would have to do, today. Why? Because Mom would have told me to!
But seriously, really, this is what Mom’s heart told me to say today. What I had to do is stand up here and share my heart with you. Because it was what I was afraid to do, but what I knew was the truth and that I needed to muster up the courage to share.
Enough of that, now to get to my point--I feel like I do know my heart. I have worked hard at knowing my heart (even though I have barely scratched the surface). It’s a good heart.
And it’s my Mom’s heart.
She left it behind—and Thank God. Now the great thing is it doesn’t stop there. Because I know it’s in my kids. Like when Devon, some years back, while fast asleep with me laying beside him, I was suffering from traumatic life changes, he slipped his hand into mine. It made me cry really hard, but I felt loved and embraced by something much larger than me at the same time.
I know its in my kids when I saw Joshua (our four year old boy) start to cry the other day when he saw the part in the Disney movie Tarzan when the mother gorilla has lost her baby, before she finds Tarzan. I saw in his eyes and his face, his knowing of the pain of the loss, but also the hope that that pain brings.
And I see it in Serena’s eyes (Mom’s newest 5 month old grandbaby). When I gaze into her eyes I see the clear deep pure heart of Serena co-mingled with Yongxia’s heart (her mother) and Marvel’s heart and the heart of Yongxia’s Mom. I can see a clear deep, luscious, pure heart that makes my heart melt. And so on and on it goes, I guess forever.
Thanks Mom, for leaving the best part behind.