Saturday, July 19, 2014

She Made Us Laugh...until We Cried

My mom is one of the most vibrant women I know. She's a go-er. A do-er. Even after she retired, she has never slowed down. Mom loves to travel, and visit her kids. She just started volunteering more, and spending more time with her grandkids when she ended her career. She still works out regularly, is very active in her church, and has to-do lists all over the place. Mom is a genealogy nut, too. (Remember that little tidbit.) Yep, she's very much alive.

So it was a little disturbing a couple of years ago to learn she already has her headstone in the ground at the Amherst Cemetery. I told you she has a passion for genealogy. Complete records are important to her. She relies on well-kept records, and cemetery information for her hobby. 

What I haven't told you is that my mom has been married five times. Her life has not been easy. When she married my dad Roger Beidler, she was married 13 years before they were divorced. Then she married our family dentist Earl Iseman, and sadly, he passed away after their thirteenth year together. Calvin Campbell, her third husband breathed a big sigh of relief when they celebrated their fourteenth anniversary. 

Calvin was such a character. I can remember his joking about that milestone. We were all shocked when he had a massive heart attack, and left this world all too soon. Mom's fourth marriage lasted just over five years, and she found herself a widow again, losing Sam Watson to a rare blood cancer. And now, now she is married to one of my neighbors in Utah, Richard Bagley, and lives two miles up the road from me.

So, here is Mom's headstone. You can see that she is making the job of future genealogists easier, but she presented a challenge for the engraver of the marble. I'm not sure why she left out her given middle name, but if that had been included, it would have read, Joan Carol Engelhard Beidler Iseman Campbell Watson Bagley. Whew. Maybe there just wasn't room for the Carol.
Photo credit: Tatiana Beidler
Yesterday, while Mom and I were spending the day with my little sister Joelle and her family, we started laughing. Mom loves to laugh, and she usually has tears streaming down her face once she starts. Her laughter is infectious, and before long, she has everyone laughing with her.

I had said, "That's Mom. That's what we'll all remember about her. 'She made us laugh until we cried.'" Then I added, "Hey, we'll put that on your tombstone, Ma."

"There's no room," she laughed. It's true. There's only room to add the year at the end of her dash. 

The laughter continued in the car as we drove into town, and we spent some time poking around the thrift store, and getting shaved ice with the kids, but I had a sobering moment in the back of the car, lost in my own thoughts.

"She made us laugh...until we cried." Oh, I really, really don't want to add that final date to the piece of marble that marks her final resting place. I hope she will be with us for a long, long time. The real tears, the sad ones, will begin when she is gone. I'm looking forward to many more years of laughter that leads to tears. 

Don't go anywhere, Mom. You are the glue that keeps your big family together. We're so lucky you are still here with us. I would like to think we'll get to keep laughing with you forever.


  1. I'm sure Mr. Bagley is breathing a sigh of relief. She didn't leave room for another husband, either.

    1. Rebecca, that had me laughing out loud. You are too funny.

  2. Your mom sounds like a very special lady. Clearly the apple didn't fall too far from the tree!

    1. Hey, Melinda! Thank you. It's always nice to hear from you. I hope you are doing well. How's your owl doing?


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