Life Stories with Steph ~

My Mom.

An adventurer, connector, genealogist, homemaker, writer, competitive game player (she won everything!), crossword puzzle master and devoted friend. This is a hard one to write. I miss her a lot.

When my mom was seven years old she was struck with the dreaded polio virus while swimming with her cousins in an Idaho river, just a few short years before the vaccine became available. For a year, my mother laid in a hospital bed at Shriners Children’s hospital in Portland, Oregon, while her family lived hundreds of miles away in Idaho. Doctors told my grandparents it was possible she may be confined to an iron lung for the rest of her life and to prepare for life with an invalid. They were devastated. Wanting to give her the best possible chance and access to the best medical care, they made the very tough decision to have her stay in Oregon as they headed home to figure out a “new normal.” It was incredibly hard on everyone.

My mother lived a life of physical struggle. She was adventurous, curious and loved to explore… everything (there was never a historical marker we didn’t pull over to read). However, her disability made it difficult. She wasn’t able to do all the things she wanted to, yet she never let it hold her back. When told she would never walk again, she worked hard to regain her strength and learned to walk without the aid of braces or a wheelchair. She fought hard in every aspect of her life; graduating college, traveling the world, mothering four children and serving others


My mother had a deep belief in sharing stories and was a master at recording our family history. Generations were connected because she took the time to piece together their lives and share them with all of us. She recognized the importance of learning from those who had gone ahead and to carry their stories forward. I treasure her words, written in 2001, regarding her work:

“I have finally been motivated to preserve the family history which I have accumulated over the years. Therefore, with the encouragement of my daughter, Stephanie, and her willingness to spend long hours at the computer scanning and enhancing old photographs, I embarked on the project of gathering the information that has been stored for years in boxes on the closet shelf. It has been a fascinating quest. I have developed a greater reverence for the noble heritage that is mine and treasure the insights I have gained into the personalities and faith of my ancestors.”

My mother passed away unexpectedly after a beautiful day spent together. The effects of post-polio syndrome took her far too soon. How grateful I am for the memory of that day, laughing together at breakfast over something cute someone had said. We had no idea what the rest of the day was going to bring.

Shortly after her passing I received a beautiful tribute from my dear Aunt Janet, my mother’s only sibling. She wrote:

“She took time to listen, to care and to express concern when things were difficult. She was able to reach out to those who needed help and to steady the course even though her physical challenges far exceeded those of others. She built bridges that spanned gulfs of all types— Phyllis wanted to know these people—their faces and their stories…

Her noble efforts and heartfelt words have blessed the lives of many generations past and of many generations yet to be born.”

Thank you, Mom. There are no words to adequately convey how much you mean to me. As the years go by, I seem to miss you more. You’d be so proud of the legacy you’ve left and the incredible things that are being done because of your example. Thank you for your patience, your example and your continued guidance. Miss you dearly, Mom.

your legacy lives on… we love you

My mom & her daughters