WORDS HAVE NEVER SAID
MUMMY – A REMEMBRANCE
It’s never easy when someone loses a parent, a child, a spouse, partner, etc. But it hits especially hard when you lose the person so unexpectedly as my brother and I did just recently on Holy Saturday 2014. Our Mom, Irene Lilholt Rogers passed away so unexpectedly on Saturday the 19th of April in Orange, Virginia not suffering any sort of trauma. She passed away as she had lived her life, with dignity, class and style. We will always remember her with so much love as always, despite the difficulties she endured in her later years with Parkinson’s disease.
Mom was born and raised on a farm in Narrowsburg, New York (a beautiful rural community almost 2 hours upstate from New York City) and was the youngest of 5 children. Narrowsburg is located in the Sullivan County region of the state not far from Port Jervis and Middletown as well as a close driving distance to the United States Military Academy at West Point. Narrowsburg is also close to the Delaware River which is near the New York/Pennsylvania Border. Her senior class at Narrowsburg Central School took their senior class trip to Washington, DC where they stayed at the Mayflower Hotel, and from that time on she became fascinated with the idea of actually living in the Washington, DC area. For mom, this dream actually became a reality for her in 1980. But before that, she had met our dad, on one of the trips he made upstate with some of his friends on a fishing and hunting trip where they were introduced by one of my uncles. Eventually they married and set up a home on Long Island, New York in the area near where my father was born and raised. After a few years, my brother and I completed the family.
When my brother and I were growing up in Brightwaters, New York (Bay Shore School District), I remember that mom was always involved in our school activities as well as Girl Scout and Boy Scout functions that we participated in, plus our various music lessons, sports and so much more. While we were in elementary school, mom, like many of the mothers of our school friends, volunteered in the school library. It was at an early age as well that I began a lifelong love of reading and going to the library which continues to this day, among many other wonderful things that she exposed both my brother and I to. By this I am referencing things such as art, music, the theatre plus so much more. I remember mom taking and teaching classes in adult cooperative extension at one of the local colleges that entailed jewelry making. She also loved to sew and when we were growing up she crafted many of our costumes for Halloween and some of the outfits we wore to school. I remember mom and I created the gown and dress for my Senior Prom and Senior Class Day at Bay Shore High School. Even down to the details on the hair style and jewelry to be worn with both outfits. To this day I have retained much of this style, class and elegance, learned from mummy.
I remember growing up that mom and dad also loved to entertain and had wonderful soirees and parties. She loved to cook and crafted many fantastic creations not only for these functions but also to give as gifts. We had a small garden in our back yard where we grew tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs and a variety of items. From the cucumbers we turned them in to pickles, and canned our own jams and jellies. I always enjoy stopping by farm stands and going to the farmer’s market even now to buy local fresh homegrown fruit and vegetables (we also did this often in Upstate and on the east end of Long Island).
On our vacations in the summer and winter and spring breaks from school we often went to visit relatives and took trips to many different places like Boston, Plymouth, Old Sturbridge Village and Salem, Mass. Other places included The Von Trapp Lodge in Stowe, Vermont, Bar Harbor Maine (where I remember mom having lobster meat in her scrambled eggs for breakfast), going to Sea World in Florida. And of course Disney World and there were so many other fascinating places we got to visit as we were growing up. Another highlighted stop that stands out was at the Baseball Hall of fame in Cooperstown, New York as both my brother and I are big baseball fans). We went to Cooperstown as part of a trip that we had taken to visit some of our cousins. On the same trip I also remember we went to Catskill game farm. These family travels fostered a lifelong enjoyment of not only travel and seeing/experiencing many new places, meeting new and fascinating people and getting a better grip and understanding of many places in our country’s past and what we could learn from it as well as it impacts our lives today. One of the trips that stands out was when I was 10, we went to Colonial Williamsburg to celebrate Thanksgiving, on the way down, we stopped at Arlington National Cemetery at the Grave of President John F. Kennedy. For a youngster, it was such a moving experience; we then continued to Williamsburg, this was a unique experience to spend the holiday at the Colonial Capital of the United States. We also went to the Jamestown Settlement while we were in that part of Virginia. What a twist of fate that many years later that mom, my brother and I would be living in Virginia.
In 1980, mummy had the opportunity to move to Washington, DC/Northern Virginia area. I was living in Manhattan (NYC) at the time at Gramercy Park, it was hard to see her move south, but knowing that it was something that she always dreamed of, I was happy for her. She settled in the Bailey’s Crossroads (Falls Church) area of Northern Virginia working first as a leasing agent at an apartment complex, and then began working for a defense contracting company as an executive secretary. Mom also had an interest in genealogy and was learning more of the family ancestry, tracing some of the family back to Denmark (on her father’s side of the family). Mummy was able to take a trip to Denmark as part doing this work, even finding the original Lilholt family home. Both mummy and I have become better acquainted with our Danish relatives over the years (our family ancestry is both Danish and German). One of the things she discovered while doing her research on the family was that we had a great (think 2 greats) grandfather was the oldest living veteran of the US Civil War and he passed away when he was 114 years old. Mummy gave me all the documents and it is so fascinating.
Mummy’s favorite colors were lavender and green, and her home reflected those colors, even to her Christmas Tree, which took a great deal of lavender spray paint to get it to meet with her approval. But the lights and ornaments looked fantastic on it. I doubt anyone would go to that extreme!! But it was worth it
I remember her also being involved at her church. She was such a people person, enjoying many people plus how important her family and friends were to her all the time, everyone that knew her loved her back and enjoyed being around her as well. And remembering how much she still loved to go places and have many wonderful experiences even after she finally retired from her job several years ago. Unfortunately at the same time mom had been diagnosed with Parkinson Disease and one of the side effects of the disease was tremors which were hard for her and all of us, she was not in control of the tremors. I moved into her condo to help her, but as the years progressed it became apparent that mummy could no longer be in the house alone when I was at work or in classes at the university, so we found a senior living facility near where my brother and his family live in Orange, Virginia that she liked and where she felt comfortable. So she moved down there a little over four (4) years ago, and was involved in activities every day, even at Halloween, when one of the local elementary schools came over to enjoy some spooky fun with the residents. I remember mom dressing up in a Cat in the Hat Costume and going around reading the story about the Cat in the Hat, even with her walker. She was such a hit. Everyone loved it.!!!!!! Even at the Dogwood and her church in Orange, she was well liked by everyone that knew her. No matter where she went or what the occasion, mummy was always well coordinated, from her outfit, her jewelry, hats (when appropriate), to her hair, nails and shoes. Always thoroughly and classy. Truly A UNIQU 1. There will never be anyone else like her.
I think that one of the reasons that mom liked the area where she ultimately moved to is that it reminded her of the area that she grew up in New York. She always remained a country girl at heart, despite living in the big city. Even at the cemetery where she now rests, the setting is so serene and tranquil behind a lovely country church that even transports me to being back upstate.
I just want to say MUMMY your daughter loves you very much and has always loved you, even though I didn’t say it that often maybe because I was angry with you at times, and because thou hast always challenged some of the choices I have made in my life, and now I understand why. I hope that now, wherever you are that you are able to find the peace and simplicity you’ve always wanted and tried your hardest to get me to understand. And I am understanding so much better. You are loved and will always be with me (and my brother). And missed