When someone leaves us, we grieve for what was, what is and what could have been. On Nov. 16the we lost my mom, Elaine Stephanie Krop Wallenburg. Like many of you, I will miss her tremendously. I will miss her, “Oh Eric’s” whenever we didn’t see eye to eye and her huge smile and laugh when we did. I will miss her complete joy when we would come over with the kids and the genuine excitement over the smallest thing they did.
My mom might be gone and we will miss her presence but I know she is always going to be here. How do I know this?
I know because whenever I feel overwhelmed by a task, I hear her voice in my ear, telling me, “just start at the beginning, and go step by step until you finish.” She taught me early to not procrastinate and get things done, I would always wait until the last minute, then ask her to type or help me with my research papers, and she would be mad at me for waiting. My mom lives on in my work ethic, feeling the need to start projects right away, so I will have extra time to finish.
I know because her love of antiques, heirlooms and family treasures taught me the value of the past. There were always different projects in our house, in varying stages of completion. If I ever needed anything for a project, strange clothes for a costume, or almost anything, there was a good chance it was somewhere in our house. My family would joke with her and there was always a good chance if we commented on an obscure object, it would show up at our house, becoming that perfect birthday or Christmas present. My mom still lives on today in many of the heirlooms that she has passed to us.
I know because her love of bargains taught me to appreciate the value of money. Whenever we needed new clothes, sneakers, or boots, she would take Kristin and me to the Berlin Farmers Market. While other kids went to the mall for the latest fashions, we went to the jean or sneaker guy with piles of jeans and rows and rows of sneakers or boots. To me, it was better than Christmas…. Well, almost.
My friends would make fun of my sneakers with the upside down swoosh, or my no name T-shirts and sweatshirts. Now I know and understand what my mom always knew, that saving a few bucks on jeans and sneakers meant we would have a little extra for other things, because life is more than jeans and sneakers.
I know of her love of family traditions. Easter meant we would eat Pedaheh (Ukrainian Perogies), we would have some horseradish, and we would all eat a piece of the same hardboiled egg, ensuring that we would all meet one day in heaven. She taught us how to use wax and dye to create Ukrainian eggs, though mine never quite looked like hers. My mom lives on in traditions that I now share with our children.
I know because of her love of active adventure and working hard. She was constantly in motion, going to school, recaning a chair, painting a room, taking us to many activities. She believed in staying busy, and made sure we did too…. Ice skating, horseback riding, swimming, football…. Thanks to mom we tried everything and were well rounded kids. My mom lives on in how I have since raised my kids, not being afraid to try anything, at least once. She always stayed busy, Immersing herself in her church, volunteer work, and her love of art.
I know because of her love for education. Despite living in a time when many women stayed home, she went on to get her degree in teaching and eventually her masters and doctorate in education. She went from teacher to supervisor of reading in Camden to Superintendent of Laurel Springs, and through all this managed to take care of a home, us and get to most of my football games. Took me longer than I would have hoped and certainly took longer than my mom wished, I did finally finish school, my mom lives on now, in my kids as they pursue their own paths in education.
I know because of her love her family. Making sure we saw family regularly while growing up was very important to her. I have fantastic memories of going to Virginia, visiting with Uncle Paul, Uncle Tommy, Ampie and Grandma and Grandpa, going to Lakewood to visit Oma, or going to Connecticut to see Great Granny. I have tons of stories from all those years, a million memories that have etched who I am today. My mom made sure family was always a priority. My mom lives on in future family gatherings and celebrations we will have because she taught us to cherish that.
I know because of her grandchildren. Nothing made her happier to be “Mom mom” or “Grandma.” Her eyes would light up a little more, her smile a little wider when they were with her. When they were with her, they could do no wrong and she longed to show them everything! The worm under the rock, fish in the pond, old bones in a field, everything was a teachable moment, and everything was an adventure. Mom mom / Grandma ensured that fun was around every corner. My mom lives on in her grandchildren and will be with them on every new adventure they make.
So I will miss my mom’s presence, I will miss her voice, her laugh, her ways… But she lives on in every step I take and every decision I make. She lives on in my children’s eyes as they just begin to tackle roads ahead of them. Thanks mom, without you I would not be me!