Reflections of the New Year

Mom on her wedding day, November 16, 1946.

January 3, 2009

January 1, 2009 marked the beginning of a new year.  To many 2009 represents a year of hope and change. We look forward with hope to a year where president-elect Obama and the new U.S. Congress can guide our country back on the right course. We look forward with hope to PL 110-229 to help end years of injustice and human rights abuses in the CNMI.  The new year is also a time to look backwards and reflect upon the events of the past year.

Thursday January 1, 2009 also marked the ending of the life of a very beautiful person, my mother, Alyce Evelyn Lisk. She died surrounded by her family in a hospice in Port Orange, Florida after a long illness.  I am grateful that I was able to spend the last weeks of her life with her and my father.  I was blessed to be with her for her last night, New Year's Eve, sitting at her bedside holding her tiny hand until the morning.

My mother and I were not alike in many of our beliefs or political philosophies.  In fact, as liberal as I am, my mom was conservative.  Yet, I learned many valuable lessons from her including generosity, charity, and service. When I was growing up the holidays at our house were not just family celebrations.  Mom set seats at the table for everyone she knew in our small Connecticut town who was alone or had no family.  Sometimes there were even two or three tables at holiday dinners.  As we grew older my sisters, my brother and I realized that Aunt Truth, Aunt Mildred,  Aunt Jo, Uncle Fred and the others were not really our relatives. My mom was empathetic, a quality not everyone has or even understands.  

My mother tolerated my free-spiritedness and even allowed me to do things my friends were not allowed to do.  When I was 16 she let me tutor younger students at the Salvation Army in the North end of Hartford which was considered a dangerous part of the city at that time.  It was an experience that led to my love of teaching.  When I was a senior in high school my parents took me to Bennington College in Vermont for an interview and to see the campus. I know they would have liked me to have enrolled there, but I wanted to go to Hawaii to college, and my mom told my dad to let me go.   My love for the Pacific islands and islanders was born in Hawaii.  My mom also encouraged me to paint, play the piano, and write poetry, all things she did not do. She influenced many of the paths I choose to take in my life even though they were not paths she would walk.

My mother was funny.  Sometimes she reminded me of Lucy in the I Love Lucy sitcom of the 1950's and 1960's.  One time there was a parade in town and she was frustrated because the route was the way home.  Instead of waiting for the parade to pass or finding another way, she joined the parade, and told my sister and me who were sitting in the back seat to wave like we were supposed to be there.  (Funny now, not so funny then.)  Another time my mother organized a surprise birthday party for the pastor of our church.  It was huge, and it was also the wrong date.  Everyone was really surprised, especially mom.

One of my earliest memories was when I was four years old.  I had the mumps and developed encephalitis.  I remember my mother crying as she held me on her lap in the Indian blanket as my dad drove me to the doctor's office in the middle of the night. I was sick for months and remember my mom lovingly taking care of me as winter passed to spring and then to summer.

My mother and father shared 62 years together and up until her last breath their deep love for each other was beautiful to behold.  Nani said that grandma and grandpa remind her of the movie, The Notebook.  

I think it's appropriate that my mother died on January 1, New Year's Day.  My father reminded us today that "January" is named after the Roman god, Janus, the god of gates, doors, beginnings and endings.  He has two heads so he can look backwards and forwards, to the future and the past.  Death marks not just the end, but also new beginnings.  I am sure that now New Year's Day will be more meaningful to our family as we celebrate my mother's life and remember her love and many contributions to making each of our lives more meaningful.

Mom and Dad, Boboy and me November 16, 1996, on their Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary.


The Actor said...

My prayerful best wishes and condolences on your loss. No matter how full a life your mother had, and how ready to meet her maker, there is still a void that cannot be filled in her absence, as wonderful as the memories and lessons may be. Remember that even Jesus wept when Lazarus died.

For those who don’t know, I believe “Alyce” is pronounce “Uh-LEASE” and not like “Alice”. Please correct me if I'm mistaken.

This post also gives me hope that you may yet realize that some of those public servants currently working for the various branches of the CNMI Government, or who espouse strict compliance with the law as written, or who oppose Public Law 110-229 because of the catastrophic and heart-wrenching economic dislocations it is causing are not “bad, evil people”, but concerned fellow-humans who share your mother’s common sense political views.


Happy New Year.

wendy, boboy and nani said...

Thank you to everyone who sent messages and kind words, especially to all of our friends on Rota for your heartwarming personal emails.

ron h said...


Our most sincere condolences to you and your family and may 2009 treat you kindly.

The Hodges family

Anonymous said...

Our condolonces Mam Wendy, we're praying for the family she left behind. See you soon.