My Mom, Joan

It has been nearly three months now since my mother's death on July 17, 2018. At birth, she was given the name, Beverly Joan (pronounced Jo Ann) and was born to H. Lloyd and Marguerite Pocock Stanley in Nokomis, Illinois on September 1, 1933. To my knowledge, mom was never called Beverly and she would be known by her middle name, Joan. Naming children is an "imperfect science" and is always done for personal preferences. (I am named after my dad, Joseph, but my parents shortened my middle name to simply Joe).

It is still hard for me to write these words about mom's passing, but I know that this is the new normal and reality for my family and me. In these last years, I have been interviewing and recording some of my parents' memories. I'm writing an anecdotal history of our family's business. Joe's Auto Repair opened in December 1961 when I was just a ten-year old boy. It has been fun and now, therapeutic, to write about some of the rich experiences I gained from growing up in this environment.

While my working title to this effort has been "About Joe and Me," I'm seriously considering changing it to "About Mom and Me." Now that mom is gone, we are beginning to realize how very important she was to our family and the business. In addition to being a homemaker, she was the sole bookkeeper and bill-payer from its inception. However, her role also included phone operator, public relations director, complaint department co-director, sometimes appointment-maker, and on occasions, "scolder in residence" when dad needed it! (Which was often!) 🌝

During mom's celebration of life and funeral service, I attempted to list some of her qualities in what I called, "The ABC's of Mom." I didn't "scratch the surface" in those 26 statements, but here are a few of those observations: mom was available, beautiful, caring, a doer, always encouraging, faithful to the Lord, loving, organized and a perfectionist, spirited and straight-shooting, made time for everyone, vigorous, young at heart, and zippy - always ready for a road trip!

Mom was protective of me. Stories are told of the time she confronted a neighbor lady over something that involved my brother and me. I soon learned that mom would "go to bat" for me. I have always known she was "in my corner" and that I had her support. Mom also believed in me and encouraged me to get my education by standing alongside me the day I borrowed that first $1,000 for college. I owe it to her that I would become the first of my family to get those bachelor's and master's degrees, and eventually, a doctoral degree. I was motivated by her pride in me.

Mom loved me, but that doesn't mean that she wouldn't lovingly scold me on occasions. I smarted just a few months back when she pointed her finger and exclaimed, "Mike Keppler!" I knew by her tone that I had been "out of bounds" with a comment and quickly made amends! Mom made me better by challenging me on those occasions. She was still exercising loving discipline right up until the time of her death. What a blessing!

If someone pressed me to note what I will miss most, I think it would be three things: I will miss mom's special breakfasts when I'd come early to have dad change the oil in my car. I will miss those 7:00 am cups of coffee around her kitchen table with the bowls of cereal, an occasional fried egg, and a couple of sausage links on a wheat toast sandwich with dad's homemade horse-radish mustard.

Secondly, I will miss those phone calls whenever I wanted or needed them. I usually called mom and dad on Sunday evenings, but mom and I would catch-up with each other whenever we felt like it. Mom always wanted to know what was going on in our family and would pop-in with a short call if she heard that the weather was changing or to share something seen on social media. I miss those chats with my number one supporter!

And... I will miss mom's hugs and kisses. I never got too old to be her boy and she always greeted me with that blessed embrace and kiss upon my cheek wherever we'd meet. Oh, what I would give for one more of those hugs and to see her waiting at the door one more time as I drove out of the driveway for home. Life is too short and I realize that even more with each passing year.

The Psalmist shares a compelling prayer request, "Teach us how short our lives are so that we can become wise" (90:12, ERV). I find myself loving on my own grandchildren a little more than usual these days. I realize even more how special the gift of life really is and that things can change in unexpected moments. Mom went home quickly and hopefully painlessly. In the minutes after hearing of her sudden passing, I said to family and friends, "Good for mom! Sad for us!" And I am sad and feel diminished. With each passing day, I continue to grieve this loss! Mom, I miss you!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com

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