First Story – A Mother’s Obituary

My first story is about my mother. Many first stories, if we could know them, remember them, would have to be about our mothers. Mom probably has the first and most often heard voice one hears from the womb. She likely has the voice many still hear in their heads long after they’ve moved out of her nest.

I wrote this story months ago. It’s Mom’s obituary. I couldn’t get the writing done (or started) as fast as the funeral home and the official newspaper obit departments wanted, so those obits turned out to be about 3 sentences short and there were name spelling errors – an unfitting tribute for a remarkable woman who so many have amazing stories about. I collected some stories, dug deep, and when I could handle it – you know, while still handling so much else that also had to be handled – I wrote something I thought she’d like and be pleased about. It was, after all, a gift to her and for those who love her.

The tears through the typing and all that that goes with writing were a gift to me. Nothing reveals more about the state of things than figuring out what to say, how to summarize in writing what is known and felt. Nothing reveals how stuck one might be more than trying to write, and almost nothing in my experience tends to change things more than becoming the intense observer writing demands.

I took out an ad in the county paper Mom liked. She had introduced me to its upbeat editor a couple years ago. From what I sent, he suggested a full page piece inside with two b/w photos, a color photo and caption on the front page. In the interesting and intersecting ways that things occur, the large front page headline left of her inset said “Live Nativity lacks Wise Man, ‘God will provide’ organizers say.”  “Tribute to Joan Blair” follows right with her sparkly, smiling picture from Celebrity’s cruise ship, Infinity.

As an ad, the obituary doesn’t appear on the paper’s website. And while many locals where Mom and Dad retired to in Pamlico County, North Carolina, saw it and found it helpful to process their grief and shock, it didn’t have a befitting reach to their many friends and family flung far and wide. Obituary image for Joan W. Blair 1930-2014There needed to be something to find on Google or Facebook or something to click through to as she would have done on her iPad if someone sent a link. was created, firstly, to get her story a place to live online. Her life touched many lives in grand and encouraging ways.  It will continue to do so, and help folks hold on and let go simultaneously.

Writing and sharing her story helps me keep finding my story. No matter what the mother story, it pushes the child along in the world somehow.

My impeding birthday is giving me some kind of sacred shove to get this story out, now. I have had the technology to do so before, not the wherewithal. This will be the first birthday without my mom’s voice on the phone or in the flesh.

Birthday celebrations and birth date anniversaries have their way of nudging us, inviting us, sometimes forcing us, to notice new things about our intersections with other people’s stories, other people’s lives. Maybe we shall read more first stories here inspired by mothers, birthdays, birth dates, and birthday gifts given and received. Maybe we shall read more stories of tributes that become possible after a death.

The rose photo anchoring this site at its birth is from Mom’s rose bush in 2015. She didn’t live to see it flower this year, but there will be blooms from things she planted for years to come.

Civic-minded, Adventurous, Compassionate
A Tribute to Joan Worzel Blair
A Remembrance by Elly Brosius, Friends and Family
, an
obituary in PDF for Joan W. Blair, 1930-2014 (2.3 MB), or an
obituary in HTML for Joan W. Blair, 1930-2014, which loads faster and adapts to your screen size.

©Elly Brosius, 2015. All rights reserved. Excerpting is allowed with credit and direction to original content. For full reprint permission, Photos by Elly Brosius.