It might come as a surprise to some people, but being OK, can be a great thing. Some of the best people I know are OK people. I don’t mean they are just OK in how I feel about them. I mean they are not people who worry about too much or get too involved with what will happen should they make one choice or another. They are people who say “OK” when it comes to making decisions. They decide on something and they go with it, whatever it may be. My Mom was one of those people.
In July of 2017, my father succumbed to a stroke in his sleep. It was a sudden and difficult time period for me and my family, but my brothers and I had to focus on my mother and how she was doing. In a way, this made it easier to get through the difficult times following his death. However, he died in his sleep. Though it was more difficult to handle, it was not a long drawn out process of sadness and morning prior to his death. That’s a good way to go. My Dad always told me the story of when he was talking with a friend about another common acquaintance dying in his sleep and his response was “Lucky guy!”
Well, recently, my mother passed away. In some ways, this was more difficult. We had no one else to focus on, just ourselves and our inner thoughts. But, she did it right, too. She died in her sleep, probably of heart issues, but she had a lot of issues going on. I was able to reflect on what my Mom was like and delivered the following speech at her memorial ceremony. I think it’s something we should all aspire to.
“What to say about Mom. I guess I have to say she was OK.
She was born in a small farm town in Ontario. I’ve been there. It’s OK. She would have been 82 this last Friday, April 26th.
At age 5, her brother, Glenn, was born. I’m not sure if she was Okay with that, but he’s a really Okay guy. Her father died when she was 8 years old. Her mother told her she’d have to help take care of Glenn and the farm and she said, “Okay!”
By 15, she was babysitting Glenn regularly because her Mom was going out on dates to meet some okay guy to be father and farmer. Mom was okay with that because, according to Glenn, as soon as their mother would leave the house, half a dozen boys would show up wooing his sister. Glenn was conned into silence through the promise of candy to which he replied, “OK!”
A friend suggested Mom go to Nursing School to which she replied “Okay” and enrolled at Chatham General Nursing School where she met many lifelong friends. After graduating in 1957 with grades that were Okay, another nurse suggested they go to Bermuda where there was a need for nurses and Mom said, “OKAY!” A reporter for the Star Weekly Magazine asked if she wanted to be part of an article on Canadian nurses in Bermuda, and she said “Okay.” She was featured on the cover looking pretty Okay.
After a year in Bermuda, she returned home to work at Sarnia General Hospital resuming her dating of the remaining supply of Ontario men including a favorite boyfriend of hers named Stubby. Fortunately, she said Okay to a blind date where she met David F. Parker who had the misfortune of being her partner in a bridge game, which she had very limited knowledge of. Though he was unimpressed with her bridge IQ, he thought she looked pretty darned Okay.
So, the girls were all going to Grand Bend on Lake Huron for a warm summer weekend to which she said, “OK!” While there, she was looking to get some free waterskiing time with a local boat owner who said, “I’ll give you some ski time if you enter this beauty contest.” She said, “Okay,” walked off the beach, onto the stage, and won to become Miss Grand Bend.
Soon after, David F. Parker ended up at Sarnia General appendicitis. The nurse on duty that night told everyone to keep their hands off because he was hers to take care of. They all said “OK!” No one wanted to PO a lady nicknamed “Madden.” A case of Nightingale Syndrome ensued and he found her nursing IQ was OK.
She ended up that year as Miss Western Ontario at the Miss Canada pageant. Her plan was to play piano as her talent, but hurt her hands waterskiing the week before. She was like, Okay, and read a poem about nursing instead. She was a runner up that night to which one guy in the crowd yelled “OK!” because he had a diamond ring in his pocket ready to propose marriage. If she had won, she wouldn’t be allowed to marry for another year. He asked that night for her hand and she said, “OK.”
Several months later while returning home from their honeymoon in Florida, she declared, “I think I’m pregnant,” and he said, “that’s okay, I’m broke, Okay?”
Chris came along, and then Stephen, and I’m sure they were both Okay. But, the third was an incredibly intelligent and handsome baby. They had my name all picked out … Katherine! So, it was NOT OK when the Albany Hospital wouldn’t let her go without naming me. Thank goodness Dad had appendicitis that night years before because I could be named Stubby Junior, or Little Stubby, or even Stublet. That would NOT have been Okay!
Once I learned to run, I was off. Mom told me once she found me in the neighbor’s basement only by following the trail of clothes I left like breadcrumbs. The neighbor’s didn’t think this was Okay. How do you not notice your kid running off ripping his clothes off? It wouldn’t be the first time.
Mom’s Okay momming was soon noticed by the police who were informed by a neighbor (maybe the same neighbor) that she had chained her son to a tree. Though they knew me by name at that point and understood her need to utilize alternative solutions to control, they said that it was NOT OK to chain your son to a tree. She shrugged and said, Okay.
Our move to Buffalo gave Dad OK pay raise and another OK son in Dan. But, the Buffalo neighbors didn’t think we were any more Okay than the Albany neighbors. At 8, a neighbor called to inform my parents that their son was running around naked on the roof. Stephen had been “experimenting” with alcohol on his younger brother. I got drunk. Theory proven. They were also called from the local convenience store when I was found to be shoplifting candy. They had confiscated my tricycle, so my Mom had to go down and give her OK that I’d never steal again. She was NO helicopter Mom, OK?
I’m sure the Buffalo neighbors were okay with us moving on when Dad was laid off and we moved to Richmond, Virginia. After a short stint there, Mom said OK to moving to Egypt where there was an OK opportunity for Dad. This was not OK with me, but what choice did I have. It turned out to be a really OK place.
Mom had never stopped nursing up to then, but she couldn’t in Egypt. She tried being an OK house mom sewing a less than OK jaguar outfit for Dan for cub scouts and then tried her hand at real estate. I think she was OK at that. She happened to show Buddy Turner around when he was moving there with his family. That was OK because we’d meet them again 15 years later when I randomly became roommates with his son, Rob Turner, at UF.
She would take us to school in our LESS THAN OK car most mornings, in her nightgown half the time because she didn’t have time to throw on her clothes. One time, while crossing over a small bridge, an army truck full of soldiers rammed into us doing an OK amount of damage. WE were OK and Mom jumped out yelling at them furiously. The soldiers stared at her in her nightgown for a while until the driver finally drove off yelling, “Ma’alesh” out the window at her. Which means, of course, “it’s OK.”
After three years in Egypt, Mom said OK to moving to England. She tried to be house Mom again, but after one of the LEAST OK birthday cakes ever made, gave that up. After a year in England, Dad asked her to pick a spot to move back to in the US. She said, OK, how about somewhere sunny, like Orlando.
She was OK with every friend and family member coming to visit that year and showing them around Disney. I think we went 9 times in 10 months. Dad found a job in Jacksonville and Mom said, OK, let’s move to this crappy little gutted bank foreclosure in Atlantic Beach.
They lived at 1739 Live Oak Lane just down the road from here for 33 years. Dad suggested they become members of the, then, Selva Marina Golf Club and she said, OK. For 33 years, we had some OK meals here.
When I mentioned to Mom that I would be going away to college, she said OK! I wanted to get a car before I left, so I asked if she could help me and she didn’t hesitate. She said OK.
I introduced her to my new college roommate, Rob Turner, and asked her what she thought of him. She thought he was OK and it didn’t take long for her to realize she had met Rob’s father in Egypt 15 years earlier and they now lived just down the road in Jacksonville Beach. That was really weird, and really OK.
Rob and I started bringing friends over to 1739 for parties and Mom was OK with that. Before long, it became known as the Parker Party Pad. As long as we cleaned up, she was OK with the dozens of passed out bodies laying everywhere the day after. One partying night, while sitting with our new neighbors at the kitchen table, a group that included her son, streaked by the window in the buff. To their surprise, she seemed OK with that, and they said, “Oooookaaaay?”
And, when I moved to Mississippi for my first job out of college and was at Mardi Gras, I ran into my Mom with some friends of hers. She had a ton of really okay beads around her neck, some of them really big ones. I was shocked into silence. I did not want to know where, or HOW, she got the beads, but was curious whether she was having fun. She said it was an okay time.
She was okay with my moving back home in 1996, starting my own business, and getting married.
She said OK to going to China, Thailand, Australia, Argentina, All of Europe and the Caribbean among other places. She was okay with skiing or snorkeling, bowling or golf, white water rafting or Winjammer cruises. She was okay with games of all kinds and more than okay with Bridge where she ended up becoming a Silver Life Master.
She was OK with her heart problems, lung issues, kidneys and the dialysis she had to go on recently. It was just another problem she had to deal with and, as usual, when they said she needed another surgery, she said, OK. She took my hand before going in for surgery and said, “I’m OK with the surgery, I’m just bored.”
She took nothing lightly and was always ALL IN. She said OK to anything that sounded fun or interesting or difficult and challenging. She was never angry, never flustered, and never afraid. She was OK with people of any kind and they were OK with her.
My Mom was a great Mom because she was a person that said OK … to EVERYTHING.
Thanks for being OK, Mom.”
My Memorial Speech for Mom
By David WB Parker
April 28, 2019
David WB Parker is a principal of Parker Associates of Jacksonville, Florida, marketing consultants to the real estate industry as well as the President of PTC Computer Solutions, IT Consultants and Strategists, and also an active real estate sales professional with Barclay’s Real Estate Group. Though based out of Jacksonville, Florida, David and the team at Parker Associates have worked in 17 Countries and 33 States through the years as well as 65 out of 67 counties in Florida. David can be reached at 904-607-8763 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.