Remembering My Mother on the First Anniversary of Her Passing
Today is a very special post in remembrance of my mother, Mary Jane (Reed) Gartner, who passed away one year ago on September 10, 2019. Her father, Lewis Reed, was the founder of Reed Brothers Dodge of Rockville – a family business that would be carried out for 97 years and three generations. It’s hard for me not to reflect on what an amazing person she was. As with most people, I have a few people in my life who really inspire me, and my mom is one of them.
In some ways, it seems like more than a year has passed since she passed. Her absence is part of my daily life now. At some point every day, I think I should call her and have to remind myself I can no longer do this. But I can keep her memory alive by sharing a few recent stories about her.
Apple Cider Time!
In the autumn months, a weekly visit with mom to Lewis Orchard Farm Market in Dickerson, Maryland for some apples and cider was a weekly ritual. Then over to Bassett’s in Poolesville for dinner. She was always happy to get out and enjoy the beautiful fall days and the sights outside.
Did Someone Say “Happy Hour?”
We celebrated mom’s 93rd birthday at Bassett’s Fine Food & Spirits in Poolesville, one of her favorite restaurants.
Celebrating mom’s 94th birthday at Arties in Fairfax. Baby back ribs and cheesecake dessert for the birthday girl!
The Saturday Lunch Bunch
Saturday lunches were something that my mom and her friends at Asbury Methodist Village always looked forward to. They had a lot of fun taking turns choosing which restaurant they would go to each Saturday. I always tried to have an annual summer cookout for them down at my place. Simple pleasures mean so much more these days, and grilling out was always a big hit.
Below, we are enjoying a cookout on my back porch with mom and three of her friends. Burgers, beer brats, baked beans, potato salad, marinated asparagus, and homemade key lime pie were on the menu. Three of them in their 90s, doing with gusto whatever it is that gives them joy. I miss these small, but very meaningful times. Hard to believe that this was only 5 years ago.
“What’s Your Excuse?”
The photo gallery below could be titled, “what’s your excuse?” This is my mom at 94 years of age going through her exercise routine at the Asbury Village Wellness Center. Great job mom!
My #1 Fan
My mom has always been my #1 fan. I was so very proud to have had her in the audience on November 18, 2016 when I was recognized with the Arthur M. Wagman Award for Historic Preservation Communication by Peerless Rockville for my blog and book documenting the history of Reed Brothers Dodge. The ceremony was held at Glenview Mansion, one of Rockville’s most beautiful historic properties. It was a tremendous honor for me to receive this award, but more importantly, share this special occasion with my mother. I saw my mom in the audience. I saw her smile and I felt her joy.
Never Too Late to Learn Something New
My mom has always been an active person and had the heart and mind of someone 20 years younger. She was 90 years old when she joined Facebook! She was not only a Facebook friend, but a Skyper, a Texter and could navigate an iPhone and Windows 8! I could have not possibly been more proud of her.
Recalling a Wonderful Life
I have been fortunate to have spent the last 10+ years experiencing the best friendship ever with my mother. One of my greatest joys was looking through all of my grandfather’s photographs along with my mother. On many afternoon visits with her, we went through hundreds of photographs and wrote down names, dates, and locations to the best of her recollection. We were able to relive the highlights of her life together; it was a very special time. This weekly activity, working together with her sharing memories and photos about previous generations, has been one of the greatest joys of my adult life.
Watching my mom’s eyes light up when I gave her the first proof book of her father’s entire photograph collection — 350 pages and 2500+ photographs — was a beautiful thing to see. True magic happened when she opened that book and started looking through the pictures. The book was a monumental task, and almost 10 years in the making, but it had a monumental reward at the end. Bringing out all those cherished memories for my mother was truly a celebration of her life.
Near the end of her life, I came to understand what a strong person my mother was. My mother had grit, warmth, a positive outlook on life, and an independent streak that served her well during the last years of her life.
Grateful for Beautiful Memories
When it comes right down to it, all we have are memories. You don’t have to travel or go far away to make memories; it can be as simple as a trip to the orchard or a Saturday afternoon brunch. I miss my mother, but I am forever grateful for the beautiful memories she left me. I find it helps to take the perspective that I didn’t really lose her. I know exactly where she is and where she’ll always be. She is alive in my memories and the link to all the history I share on this blog.
I lost my mom almost exactly twenty years before your mom passed (Sept 6, 1999) and I still miss her every day. The work you put into those photos and the time you spent with your mom are absolute treasures. I am glad you had that time with her.
Thank you for your kind words, Matt. Thank you for stopping by and for your kindness and support.
My Best Regards,
Very sweet. Sorry for your loss, Jeanne. May your mom rest in peace.
Thank you, Patrick.
This homage to the remarkable person and life of your late mother is simply beautiful. I hope you will excuse my addressing you by your first name but I have come to feel that I know you more than casually by reading your Reed Brothers Dodge blog and exchanging a few E-mail “Comments” on same. You write very well and with great sensitivity and perception. I am sure you conducted yourself in like vein during your military career. We need more women of your caliber in positions of power and influence. My late mother Elizabeth was another example of capable and inspirational women. She died at 98 years of age in 2011 and I miss her every day but at the same time celebrate the beauty and quality of her life. By the way , did I ever tell you that I lived in then little Vienna , Virginia and on S Street in Washington, D.C. during the WWII days. Wonderful memories of those times are still with me. Please forgive the personal tone of this rather public message but at this early morning hour of the infamous ” 9 -11″ attack anniversary I tend to be pensive and verbose. Continue to blog and be well. Sincerely, Jonathan B. Richards II at Chesterfield, Missouri.
Waking up with the sunrise and enjoying a cup of coffee while reading your comment really made my day. It’s always a pleasure to hear from you!
My Best Regards,