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Sunday, January 26, 2014
In Memory of Lily Knott Beckman
My remembrance of my mother, Lily Knott Beckman, as read by my sister, Carolyn, at Lily’s memorial service in Twisp, Washington on January 25, 2014:
My name is Jeanne [pronounced Jean] Beckman. I am the third child of six children, the third daughter, born to my mother, Lily Knott Beckman. As is often typical of women, I have fought for years against becoming my mother. However, about year ago, I came across the book entitled “I Am my Mother’s Daughter: Making Peace with Mom—Before It’s Too Late.” This book helped me to become closer to my mother than I have been for years.
With the help of this book, over the past year, we spoke often of her life over the years, and the parallels of her life with my own. I had the opportunity to thank her for all the sacrifices she made to make me the woman, psychologist, mother, and grandmother I have become. I now admit with great pride that I AM my Mother’s Daughter.
I cannot attend today’s service because its schedule is in conflict with my oldest son Mark’s infant son’s baptism. My mother would certainly understand and agree that I must be a mother first, and therefore I am in Illinois, participating as a mom and grandmother for my first grandson’s baptism.
To hear the way my siblings describe Lily Knott Beckman, you might think we are speaking about six different mothers. In recent discussions with my siblings, I have come to believe that my mother was like the Room of Requirement found in Hogwart’s school from the Harry Potter novels.
Hogwart’s school’s Room of Requirement, according to Wikipedia, provided whatever was needed. That is, if one person needed books about a certain topic, that room would magically provide all the reference books about that topic. If another person needed magic potions, the room provided all the necessary potion ingredients. So too, my mother gave each of her children whatever he or she needed at the time, though not necessarily what they wanted. Whatever Mom did, her first thought was always about what her children needed at the time. She often put her own needs on hold until she cared for her children.
My mother had a passion for music, politics, and creative arts. Throughout much of her life, she was an avid reader. She certainly developed an unquenchable thirst for books in my life. Mom and I shared Anna Quindlen’s view about decorating:
I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.
In addition to Quindlen’s writings, we’d share a laugh about the late Erma Bombeck’s descriptions of life as a mom. I remember laughing about Bombeck’s titles such as “Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession” and “The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank.”
My mother was willing and able to talk about whatever topic interested her children. She was also like Johnny Appleseed, planting seeds of curiosity and enthusiasm in the hearts and minds of each of her children. She loved to talk about progressive politics, always speaking about topics of social justice. My mother believed it was her moral responsibility to insure fair elections, working as an election judge even as her own children were very young.
She was the only woman I knew who could create gorgeous heirloom Christmas ornaments equally well, whether she was using toilet paper tubes, walnuts, birch branches with cotton balls, or glitter with spun glass.
So, I could go on about my mother, but one of the important lessons Lily Knott Beckman taught me was the importance of sharing. So, today is all about all my siblings sharing my mother’s love, sharing my mother’s energy, and her belief that the more you share of your heart, the more you freely give your love, the more you have to share with others. Most importantly, my mother taught me importance to be a good mother, that is, to give away my heart to children of any age.