KERRY HUBARTT: Sunday can be a day to rehash memories of those lost

Kerry Hubartt

It’s been 19 years since the last time I celebrated Mother’s Day with my mom — May 9, 1999. Only 37 days later, Tuesday, June 15, my dad called me at The News-Sentinel shortly after I arrived at work to let me know Mom was being airlifted from Columbia City to Parkview Hospital on Randalia Drive.

The Samaritan helicopter was landing as I walked into the emergency entrance. Mom had suffered an aortic aneurysm. It wasn’t long before the doctor told us in a private room that she was gone. I had never seen my dad cry like that.

Phylis Joan (she went by Joan) was 76. She and my dad loved to travel, hike, fish, swim, bowl — you name it. They spent their retirement keeping busy at their home on Big Lake north of Columbia City and remaining active in their church.

We took our six kids to their lake home through the years to celebrate most holidays, including Mother’s Day. I always felt that the best gift we could give my mom — more than the flowers and potted plants — was our attention, being there as a family. She and my dad had given to us throughout the years in more ways than we could ever repay.

My mom was a calming, settling force in our lives from the time Beth and I married. We visited their house in Fort Wayne frequently when we were first getting started and dirt poor. Mom would ask us to stay for supper in those days in the 1970s when we spent as little as $5 a week on groceries.

Later on, when we moved to Leo and started building our own house, my dad was there day in and day out to help in the construction and finish work. And my mom was there, too, lending a hand. Later, when Beth and I were both working, she drove the 32 miles from the lake every other Tuesday morning to babysit on the one day when either my wife or I could not be home with the kids too young to go to school.

My kids have fond memories of their grandma. She was a soothing, sensible source of wisdom and comfort. And she was fun. She was quiet and strong, but not pushy or demanding.

She liked her space and had a strong independent streak, but she was fiercely loyal to her husband and her children and grandchildren.

Mom and Dad were a team. They, my brother, sister and I always did things as a family, especially in our church. And after my siblings and I left home, my parents continued to function as a pair. My marriage and family life was shaped by their example.

Mom’s faith in God, like Dad’s, was the bedrock in her life. It became my own, and I’ll never forget the words she penned in the Bible she gave me my senior year in high school: “May this book be the roadmap for your life.”

I failed many times to heed that advice, but those words and her example never failed to influence my ultimate destinations. And her love and steady faithfulness still guide me, and every Mother’s Day reminds me how much I miss her.

Kerry Hubartt is the former editor of The News-Sentinel.