On August 29, 2014, at the age of 84, my mother peacefully slipped away from us. She may have left quietly, but she lived the rest of her life with noisy vitality and delight.
This is a tribute to a spunky woman who embraced life with so much gusto, she nearly squeezed the air out of it!
Barbara Herman was Alvin’s wife, mothered my brother Alan, sister Karen, and me; was grandma to Jason, Eric, Austin and Mariah; and held close an odd assortment of “kids” who respectfully called her “Mom”. Her love for my father – all 65 + years! – and family never failed, even when we disappointed her or accidentally hurt her feelings.
She was the disciplinarian of the family, so as a kid, I thought she was tough and uncaring. She seldom laid a hand on us, but had “the look” that brought us to attention faster than a drill sergeant. With an Irish temper, firm resolve and a great sense of humor, she ruled the household so that peace could reign by the time dad got home from work.
It took years for me to realize there was a soft kitten (or puppy) residing within that bold, gruff exterior.
Mom has been on my mind a lot this summer. I suspect her fun-loving spirit, sense of adventure and curiosity are at the core of my quest to see as much of this country as I can…while I can. I’m pretty sure she has been riding with me, encouraging me to explore the nooks and crannies of the west. We’ve been on high mountain passes, across the prairie, through canyons and deserts; in the ocean, near lakes, rivers and streams.
And yes, there have been more than a few U-turns!
I heard her giggle as the thin air and narrow, cliff-clad road caught my breath while going over the 10,947′ pass along the Beartooth Highway between Cooke City and Red Lodge, MT.
She cursed a little when we had to wait for a parking space so we could stop along the Going To The Sun Road in Glacier National Park (note to self: take the free shuttle or Red Bus Tours – way more fun!). At times I hear her whisper “turn here” or “I wouldn’t stay there if I was you” or her most famous line – “do what you damn well want to, you are going to anyway!”
We’ve been to Swan Lake, Mammoth Hot Springs and the bison-rich Lamar Valley in Yellowstone, in spite of the crowds.
Just last weekend we were at one of the all-time favorite spots in Yellowstone – the Grand Prismatic.
Thank you, Mom (and Dad), for giving me the gumption to follow dreams, streams and scenic byways. I am grateful for your love, wisdom and everlasting inspiration!
Rest in peace, dear one, we miss you everyday!
This is one of my favorite pictures of Mom. Here she is hamming it up for the camera – something she didn’t do very often – surrounded by some of her favorite peeps, (from the left) Dad, grandsons Jason, Eric and Austin; and son Alan (Soap) holding one of the many Herman family cats.
More travel pictures and stories to come – I promise. Thank you for following along with me – your comments are always appreciated!