Some years ago, I remember saying to mom, in a teenage moment of frustration, "all you do is sit around sewing and doing yoga." These words became very familiar to me over the years as mom would play them back to me many times. That couldn’t have been further from the truth then or now. The irony is that she was always achieving another goal, license, or degree.
I admired her ability to focus on the task at hand. She didn’t just dip her toe in the water – she dove in, head first whether it was learning to live on a granite island with her family and staff or freezing enough vegetables from the garden to last all winter. After her accident six years ago, when doctors told her that she might not walk again, she set about building back her strength and flexibility, and against all odds, was back on the dance floor in less than a year.
Mom’s interest in natural foods was spawned during the early days on Hurricane Island. Institutional canned food just didn’t do it for Mom. As a ten year old, I remember sitting in the mess hall peeling the crust off of a piece of wonder bread and then compressing the entire slice of bread into a doughy, ½" cube. That did it for her! After this she began baking bread, growing her own yogurt culture, and making granola in an attempt to offset the wonderbread and canned peas. She continued her search for healthier foods for the rest her of life – always creating new tastes for her family and friends.
Many of Mom’s most favorite moments in life were those on the water. From an early age I can remember cruising on the Maine Coast. Now, looking back on those experiences, after cruising with my own children, Mom made it all look so easy. Somehow, she managed to adapt to the situation, whether we were offshore in rough weather or anchored in a calm harbor, Mom always had a hot meal and a warm bunk for us all.
Mom was an accomplished improviser. One of her favorite expressions was "you’ve got to learn how to make lemonade of lemons. That was Mom – making the sweet lemonade out of a bunch of bitter lemons. She was so resourceful, whether in the galley or behind her sewing machine she knew how to make do. One year she took some old sail cloth and created a whole line of designer duffle bags, small and large. She took great pride in the things that she created and she shared those creations with all of us.
Throughout her life, Mom wasn’t afraid to be a little different – to make it a little better, to try something new. Robert Frost said it well in The Road Not Taken. I’ll read to you the first and last stanzas of the poem:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the road less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
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