A little love from Grace
Updated: Aug 31, 2020
Hi. I of course have already written something on CaringBridge, and social media…but there is always more to write—especially when it comes to my mom.
My mom and I had a special bond. She would always tell me about how she was sitting in church, and I told her that she was pregnant with me. The funny telepathic communication didn’t end there either…I liked to answer questions that she hadn’t asked out loud yet—this was especially evident when I was little, and it also became more evident when she got sick. We were always on the same page. I used to get so bothered because my dad would say that my opinion didn’t count because I would just agree with my mom no matter what…I couldn’t help it if my mom was always right! I learned to lean into the fact that I couldn’t separate myself from her.
I’m the youngest, and Kathleen and Colin are 6 and 5 years older than me, respectively. So by the time I came along, everyone was already at school. My dad travelled most weeks for his job, so that left my mom and I. No offense to everyone else, but I was quite alright with that. My mom joked that I was her perfect waffle...because your first waffle is always a little overcooked, the second might be a little underdone, and the third one is always just right. I won't confirm or deny this theory, but it always gives me a little chuckle.
You would not believe how much fun we had. Most of the time growing up, I would much prefer running an errand with my mom to hanging out with any friends…not that I didn’t love my friends—I have phenomenal friends! But I never had more fun than I did doing just about anything with my mom: grocery shopping (Costco of course), going on the hunt for some new home decor piece, or garbage picking something at the side of the road and watching her craft it into something new and beautiful. I could watch paint dry with my mom and be howling in laughter.
She’d make smoothies and waffles for breakfast before school, carefully craft all of our lunches, and always have a pot of tea ready for me when I got home. She took every beautiful Christmas card, volunteered at every field trip and event, and did makeup and hair for every school dance. She edited every English paper, helped with every math “problem of the week”, and outdid herself on all of our art projects. Up until a couple months ago, she was doing flashcards with me…making me remember medical diagnoses and terms with her funny voices and expressions. She poured her whole being into motherhood—and succeeded in every way.
My college experience was not one that I look back very fondly on. Turns out, I prefer staying at home with my mom—who would’ve guessed! She always assured me that I just needed to get through these couple years, and it would all be okay…she was right. She knew exactly what to say at all times. I didn’t pass a class my junior year, and it devastated me…but she, of course, was there, happy to cuddle in bed with me, and happy to have more time with me because of my rearranged schedule. She gladly accepted my calls everyday, sometimes multiple times, fitting me into her busy phone schedule of talking to Kim Scharafin 14 times a day. My senior year was mostly filled with commuting back and forth between Loyola and Naperville so that I could be by her side through all of this past year’s trials and tribulations. I feel so lucky to have been able to be with her pretty much everyday of this past year.
When COVID and the stay-at-home orders hit, my parents and I went up to Michigan, and settled in there for many months. I truly had such a good time. We would wake up, and my mom would take Bear on some absurdly long walk that I would sometimes join her on, and then we’d get back and do a live-streamed workout class (shoutout to all of the Edward’s instructors and pals, we love you!)…she’d make some delicious lunch, we’d have afternoon tea and cookies (or cake, or bread, or whatever delicious treat one of us decided to make), she’d take Bear on another absurdly long walk, we’d do some sort of creative project, we’d probably take a nap together, and we’d end the day with a crazy restaurant-quality meal, prepared by her. I’m not sure how my dad felt about having to be home so much—he’s the extrovert of the family—but I was having a pretty damn good time. I’ll cherish this extra time with her forever, and I know my dad will too.
I owe so much to her: my artistic ability, my reason for going into nursing, my love of dogs and all animals, my grit, my sometimes foul language, my style and love of clothes (& love of a good deal!), my love of food, my compassion, my gift-giving, my love of music and dancing, and my empathy. She had a special way of making everyone around her feel welcome and loved—Justin, Jess, and Drew can all attest to that. She inspired a confidence and love of self in me that no one else ever has. It feels difficult to separate my own self from her— so I’m not going to. I’ll make sure she lives on through me, just as I know that Kathleen and Colin will too. A lot of my favorite parts of them come from her as well…Colin never complains, and works harder than anyone I know (my mom’s “hardworking middle child”!)…and Kathleen has her sweet generosity and can cook a gourmet meal at just a moment’s notice.
I’m going to attach one more “Spirit in the Sky” video to this post, and here is the story behind it…My parents and I were in Jackson Hole, WY, and took a tram up to the top of a mountain. In true Gallagher fashion, we made the decision to hike back down the mountain…12 miles downhill was NO easy task, and I can honestly say, in all of my years of gymnastics, cross country, and track, I have never been as sore as I was after this day. I could barely move. At a certain point down the mountain, my dad decided that it was better for his knees for him to alternate running down the mountain, so that left my mom and I. Yes, at one point we did think we saw a bear that turned out to be a very large buck (I of course had the bear spray open and ready), and, yes, she did tell me to put on some music to keep me going (it worked!). This is a short video, but it captures a lot about her…her sheer athleticism, her tenacity, and—I’m going to use one of her favorite words here—just how much fucking fun she was. (Don’t worry, mom, I’ll keep the f-word count in the house high for you!)
I love you all, and I love the love that you have for my mom.
Let’s keep it going forever, okay?