One year ago today my mom died.

It’s weird to say that; and it’s weirder still to think about. It’s been a year since I’ve been able to share my joy with my mom. It’s been a year since I’ve been able to seek my mom’s advice. I’m deeply saddened to this day by my mom’s passing. There have been so many things in the past year that I would have loved to have shared with her.

All this week I’ve been thinking of the last time I saw mom. Carina, the twins, and I joined mom, dad, and mom’s friend Dilya at the El Vacquero Mexican restaurant to celebrate our new jobs at OSU. Mom was so happy for both Carina and I for our new jobs. The meal was a happy, loving celebration of the future to come. Mom was always so supportive of both Carina and I; and I’m glad that our last dinner together was a positive one. I’m truly thankful that mom didn’t suffer or linger.

For many years my mom was heavily involved with Central Community House, serving on the Board, as well as being President of the Board. This weekend CCH hosted a reception of friends and family to honor the dedication of their “Gathering Place” community room in mom’s name. It was a very nice ceremony, and mom would have been proud to have received the honor. Dad, Ann and I accepted the honor in her name.

Prior to the dedication there was an informal gathering. Friends, colleagues and acquaintances were in attendance. A married couple – long time friends with my parents – were present with their son, who was a childhood friend of mine. He asked me how my mom got into her line of work. As I summarized my mom’s life, I realized just how much she had done. I was literally speechless for a moment as the enormity of my mom’s work struck me.

After the formal dedication of the meeting room, there was an opportunity to share memories of mom. I shared my observation of just how much mom had done, and that if I can accomplish even a quarter of what my mom did it will be a wonderful achievement. Tyler observed, sagely, that mom made friends wherever she went. Tyler’s comment really hit home for me, and reminded me that I need to take a page from mom not only in terms of her relationships with peers and colleagues, but also as a parent.

Growing up, I never felt like I had to compete for mom’s attention. I knew that Ann and I always came first. I knew that I could always rely on mom’s help and support. Mom was always there to help with schoolwork. She was always there with a sympathetic ear. She was always there with wise – even if unappreciated – advice. It pains me to this day to realize what a void there is in my life now that mom isn’t here.

Mom was involved with the Volunteer Administrators’ Network. She was the first recipient of their Award of Excellence, many years ago. This year, in honor of her commitment to the profession, VAN Columbus renamed their award to the Mary Merrill Award of Excellence. I can think of no greater testament to her passion for volunteer administration. Dad, Ann, and I attended this year’s award ceremony. It was an emotionally challenging experience, but it was also deeply satisfying to see mom’s legacy being recognized, and institutionalized, for her peers.

Tonight, on the one year anniversary of mom’s passing, Dad, Ann and I went back to Club Diversity for chocolate martinis. We invited Dale to join us. Dale and mom worked together on many occasions, and it was a real treat to have him with us tonight. It was great to have Dale’s perspective of mom’s life and work, and to share his love for mom.

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