My Mom, a memoir

Hall and Oates 2017

Mom’s…everyone has one. I had the best one. She was exactly what I needed and I like to think that I was exactly what she needed; it was symbiotic. She taught me more in living her life than she could teach me in parenting mine. She was my everything. …and then one day she was gone.

I never had one moment of regret after she passed because I know that everything that needed to be said and every memory I ever wanted to make with her was made despite her early departure. While I revel in all of the things she taught me it does not suggest that I emulated all of those lessons. Many of the things she modeled I did the opposite. I am very outspoken while she was tight-lipped. I am very affectionate while she was reserved. Nothing stands in my way while she treaded lightly. It was those things that made us different than served us both well. I was able to tell her all of things I would ever want to say never expecting anything in return. I was able to do things with her that she never would have considered doing because I was far more spontaneous, and she was always willing to go with my flow. It was all of our differences that made the impact. She would always laugh at my crazy life and I would stand in wonder to the beauty she created around her.

Today, I am not sad but grateful that I had a relationship with my mom that was so fulfilling. Despite the years of life I feel she was cheated, I can honestly say that she and I did not miss a thing. I will think back on the hours of laughter because this one thing is true, she and I laughed endlessly!!! I will think back on the many hours of advice, despite her knowing I would always do what I was going to do, she never stopped offering. I will think back on my favorite memories, surprising her in Nashville for her birthday and she never realizing we had both been on the same plane!!! I will think back on the many concerts we attended together, music will forever be our language. I will think back on her final year on this earth and am most blessed to have had the fortune of spending time together where our laughter would be medicinal for both of us.

Our favorite band and song – Hall and Oates – Sara Smile

I leave you with this…our favorite song. I can still remember us singing this song together; years of singing, years of laughter, years and years of memories.

Mom, I love you and I miss you more than anyone will ever know. I feel you with me, I live my life every single day to honor you. …and yea, I guess I am sad as I type these final words with tears rolling down my face, it is all in honor of you, my mom, my hero, my everything.

Life as I remember it – L.

I remember it like it was yesterday…

What makes a moment the one that you can remember exactly where you were, who you were with and how you felt? It is the good and the bad moments that can bring you back but mostly it seems to be those that cause the most shock that drive us back.

There have been a few in my own life that have been impactful enough to leave that “mark” that brings it all back. The birth of my children, the day I met my husband and many other personal wins. Of course the more vivid are the losses; the day I lost my mom will forever live on and unfortunately the details of that day will not soon leave.

I remember the day I met my husband. The day, the time and what he was wearing when he walked through the door. I was starting a new job and he was being introduced as the first co-worker that I would meet. I could not have known the fate that beheld us that day. We would become friends and five years later would be married so how that day is time-stamped in my brain is a mystery. It is as if “I knew”, something in me knew that that moment, that day, was worth the indelible snapshot.

More powerful are those memories that impact us despite the lack of contact. These memories pack as much punch if not more for the empathy and fear they instill. The impact of mass shootings is very real to me. It has not personally happened to me but the fact that it happens has me searching for my exit in every large crowd. I can’t sit in a movie theater without locating the exit. I steer clear of large crowds; think twice about malls and concerts. I know that while it has not happened to me it happens to someone.

9/11 will forever be that moment for a nation that we will NOT forget. I was at work that morning with all of my colleagues when someone came in the meeting and said a plane had just hit the World Trade Center. This day would never be the same…ever. It touched us all and it changed us. This was a moment that paralyzed a nation. I remember sitting intensely watching the news, the play-by-play of horror, all day, all night and again and again as the stories started to be told.

There is something about a moment, that you remember like it was yesterday, that creates a snapshot in our brains that can be recalled so vividly. At its worst it creates trauma and at its best it creates a moment; either way we are affected.

As we cannot predict when those moment that will live with us forever it is the focus, the present moment that will make sure that we don’t miss a moment. Being present is the only way we can be in the moments we are fated to live. Carpe Diem – L.

Music and Mine

So my day starts with a song that brings me straight to the heart of what music meant to my Mom and I and my night ends with the annual Bush concert that me and mine I have come to enjoy as “our thing”.

I have literally had to move heaven and earth to make it here because of cancelled flights threatening to hold me hostage in Nashville. But what Mother Nature did not know is that there is not enough weather to stop this mother from having this moment with her girl; point proven as I have now arrived in Tampa.

We are on our way, raining and late but we will be there soon enough singing at the top of our lungs.

This will be another memory for the books of music and moments that define our lives. Hers, mine and ours.

Music and Mom

Well I am happy to report that this month has not been the monster that I had created in my head for months leading up to August. It is August 16th, two weeks before the anniversary of her passing and I am still surviving. It’s funny in this life how we prepare for the worst that never comes and are unprepared for the worst yet to happen.

As I was going down in the elevator this morning I heard a country song playing that I recognized which is rare as I am not a fan of country music. It was so familiar that I found myself singing the chorus…and then I realized…it was the song that Bob played at my mom’s service in Woodlawn.

…and then there I sat with that realization…oh yea it’s August. What day is it? August 16th…where was I last year at this time? I was with her, on the mountain, savoring the last memories, our last moments on this earth. Let me just sit in this moment…

The irony that a song is what brought me back to this moment is not lost on me. My mom and I had the most amazing memories all wrapped in the music of our lifetime together. My eulogy to her was written capturing all of those amazing moments of music. I will be sharing that on August 31st to honor her passing.

Mom and I at Hall and Oates Concert. I would fly her to Orlando at least once a year to attend a concert. Barry Manilow was another of our faves.

What is it about a song that brings us right back to where we were in that moment? I can see exactly where I was, I feel exactly as I did at that time, I can smell the smells, hear the environment, I am there 100% in the first few notes of a song. It is for that reason that I consider music one of the most important mediums in life. The message and the melody found in music is the best medicine for our soul.

Today I refuse to allow that predicted dread from months before to creep in. I choose to hear the song as a measure of courage that I can listen to it now and instead of crying I embrace the love behind the music. The setting that day was so perfect for this song as we gathered in Oak Grove Church in Woodlawn which is the tiniest church on the biggest mountain in Woodlawn that stands tall in all her glory much like my mother.

Amazing Grace, that is how I recall my mother, Terry Lee Lao Dearborn, perfect in every way and not gone, not forgotten, simply missed.

Living life as she would have me live it – L.


The moments…I live for them and I revel in them. One of the things that I have started doing in the last year is recognizing the moments. I can think of so many that have happened in the last year simply because I took a minute to stop and recognize them by saying out loud, “In this moment, I am __________.”

Yesterday my moments were many. It started watching the sunrise, then a walk on the beach, breakfast with my sister-cousin, spending most of the day with “the Aunt’s” and then finishing up with a hockey game where I got to see the love of my life doing what he loves. SO MANY MOMENTS IN ONE DAY.

To anyone else a day like I described is just a “good day” but to me they were many moments.

  • When the gnats chased me in my car and the song “Miracles” came on…that was a moment. It made me smile and so happy to be there.
  • When I was sitting in front of my beautiful cousin and sharing breakfast on a Sunday morning. Two souls sharing and caring for each other, it was timeless. It was a loving moment.
  • When I was sitting at my Aunt’s table and working with them on our first book, my Aunt Judith said, “this is what we do every day…we just laugh all day” and I thought what a beautiful moment, so cherished.
  • When we were at Gary’s game and he and Dave were so happy to have us there it was truly a moment of gratitude. We even laughed that it was so funny how happy Gary was that I was there. Most guys, well we won’t worry about most guys…my guy wanted me there and loved that my Aunt’s joined me!

Sometimes my moments are not in the activity and those are the ones I cherish the most because it simply occurs to me that in THAT moment I am so happy. I had this happen on Saturday as I spent the day completely chilling out and all of a sudden it happened. I said to Gary, “In this moment I am in absolutely NO pain and I feel so optimistic about the future.” I said it again, just to make sure I captured the moment. It was what I had waited for months to feel; pain-free and hopeful for the future.

I was so fortunate to share so many moments with my Mom and that is what makes living this life without her bearable. I have moments that I simply will never forget and will always cherish. One that makes me smile even today is…

  • Last August as she was relegated to the bed a Paul McCartney special came on. She was a fan of the Beatles so I told her we were going to watch it. She wasn’t speaking much at this point but was aware. I will never forget laying there beside her and seeing her toes come to life, tapping to the beat of the music. I looked over at her in that moment and she was lip syncing the song!!! I was floored!!! She wasn’t just aware she was THERE! I will never forget that moment as long as I live. It was THE moment.

This life is busy, it’s full of tasks and distractions. If you don’t actively recognize the moments as they happen they will pass you by. Pay attention to your world, your surroundings and find the moments!

I challenge you to POST your moment in the comment section of this blog telling us what that moment was and how it felt. I am so excited in anticipation of sharing these magnificent moments with you.