Remembering a mother’s legacy

The image popped up in my Facebook feed. Right on schedule with my sister’s note that today was the day we lost our mother for the second time.
September 8, 2001.
When the call came, I was back home after several trips traveling back and forth to Montgomery, Alabama to be present for her passing.
It was a surreal season in my life.
Three small children.
A husband.
A blessed life.
But I always felt the heart space where my mother was supposed to live.
She was a part of my life, certainly, but for 30 years, she lived at the end of a telephone line. As children, we visited infrequently as logistical challenges kept us separated in the care of our father and eventually a loving step-mother.
I loved her deeply and she loved me.
All the way to the end of her days, she was teaching me.
I summoned those lessons of courage to witness her waning.
Those of us who shared that time are forever etched in the memories of those stretched out moments at her bedside.
She left instructions for us in the care of her beloved Carolyn, the sister whose everyday routine included the care of my mother.
Whose daughters stood in for my sister and me in growing up in close proximity to the nursing home on Woodley Road.

Dearest Carolyn,
Now don’t tune up, I am trying to be very practical and realistic, not melodramatic. If my calculations are correct, you should read this after I leave this (my temporary home). I address this to you mainly because you we have been so close for so many years and share so much.

I know you will heed my wishes as best you can.
First and foremost, I find myself always thanking God for my family, all of you, I really can’t say enough to let you all know how I feel, just thank you and God bless each and every one.
Second, no, absolutely NO support system, let me go and be of good conscience. Living, (if you call that living) like that is not my idea of “something to do.”
Thirdly, but certainly not least, grieve if you must, but not for long. You know I’m not much on tears. Know that I am with Mama and Lyn and any more who chose the right way and follow me.

Also, I can walk and I am truly whole – think of it!
Now get on with your business of living and know for certain, I am at peace and waiting. Eternity is a long time.
Be always warm in knowing I love you, ’cause I know I was loved.
– Phyllis

I am reminded of her presence daily.
She nudges me to love big and to serve abundantly.
Her spirit motivates me on my darkest days.
Her family shared the experience of her loss of mobility at age 26.
It changed all of us.
Her parents made possible the visits in a setting other than the nursing home.
Her siblings shared back pain and deep belly laughs.
The cousins share the memories of her wheelchair but always her wide-open arms.
My sister and I share her smile and her ample hips.
Her grandchildren share her bloodline and snatches of memories of her tremendous love for them.

Phyllis Kyser Kratochvill – I remember you.


2 thoughts on “Remembering a mother’s legacy

  1. Phyllis was my friend from her first day in Montevallo until she died. I will always remember the days when we were young, the fun we had, the crazy things we did when we were in high school., and how upset I was the first time I visited her at Woodley Manor. I visited her often as did a number of Montevallo friends. We planned two reunions and had a great time. She was so happy seeing everyone.
    Butch brought her to my house for a mini reunion. Took her on a pontoon boat ride and she really enjoyed that. She had to get back to Montgomery to watch a Braves game. (I miss Butch too)
    Phyllis was so proud of “her girls”. No question that she loved you and worried about you.
    I loved Phyllis, think of her often, laugh at some of the memories, and cry when I realize she is gone.
    My love to your family.
    Judy Kellum


    1. Hi Judy,
      Thanks for this message and for sharing your memories. My mama was an amazing woman. I miss her every day.
      Do you have any photos that you could share that might be new to me and my sister?


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