Mom, the Bear, and Leo the Lion

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Mom hiking at Lone Pine

 

It was the morning after my mother died that I saw the bear. It was early and I was lying in bed looking out of my second story bedroom window. I often look out of the window in the mornings to start the day while also hoping to get a glimpse of wildlife starting theirs. The morning I saw the bear, I was still groggy as I hadn’t slept well. It had been a restless night of waking and reminding myself that my mother was dead.

My husband and I were talking about something, I don’t remember what, as I was looking out of the window. I interrupted, “That was a bear.” “At least I think it was.”

I had seen it on the trail right below the hill in the backyard. Our yard is very overgrown now with it being summer and the small black bear ambled by so quickly through the brush, as if he were on a mission to someplace, I was a little incredulous that it was actually a bear.

My husband made some remark about it being a sign – like it was my mother passing through – you know, as a kind of farewell.

However, I’ve never thought of my mother as a bear. She was a lion – Leo the Lion – strong and confident and could set the dance floor on fire just as others of her zodiac sign are known to do. Spirited and outgoing – she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. I am the quiet type and she would often tell me as a child that I should speak up. I especially remember being instructed on how to conduct myself at the corner grocery meat counter.

When school was out in the summertime, Mom would send me to the store to buy cold-cuts for lunch. She would tell me to get a six-pack of soft drinks and some luncheon meat. Mom wasn’t like other mothers that wouldn’t let kids drink soft drinks. She liked sweets and didn’t deprive my brother and me of candy or soda. I remember picking out six bottles of Big Shots to go with our lunch; cream soda, pineapple, cola, grape, strawberry and of course black cherry, which was Mom’s favorite flavor.

“Get a half-a-pound of luncheon meat”, she would say, “and make sure you speak up when it’s your turn to be served.” “Don’t let the adults get ahead of you, just because you can’t talk up.”

Throughout my life I have heeded her advice to speak up, but have also made sure that I don’t take anyone else’s turn at the counter.

Another lesson Mom taught me was to “give right where right is due”. It doesn’t matter if the person is young or old, rich or famous, or someone in authority; if the person is right, let it be. But if they are wrong, you mustn’t be intimidated. You have every right to let them know. This is particularly tricky when you are a kid trying to deal with an adult that can’t handle the truth from a kid that is smarter than they are. I passed this ethic down to my own kids and I’m sure they would tell you that their grade school career was less than smooth-sailing because of a teacher or two that couldn’t face the facts being given to them from a person half their size.

All of the talking Mom was famous for, she wasn’t much for taking phone calls. As a kid, I remember she could easily take the phone off of the hook without a worry about missing a call. After I grew up, she and I would talk on the phone for hours. It just wasn’t all the time – perhaps every couple of weeks or even once a month. But when she was busy or not in the mood for a long conversation, she would have my dad answer the phone.

“Hello” “Hey Sissy, wanna to speak to your mother?” “Adele, your daughter is on the phone”.

A shout for me to hear, “Tell her I’m busy, I don’t have anything to say, I’ll have to call her back. Maybe next week.”

How fitting it was when I called on the day she died and heard her say in the background, “I don’t want to be bothered.”

Mom always felt guilty about turning away phone calls. But, it really didn’t bother me. I accepted it as her way. When eventually she found time to speak, I could always rely on her straightforward and frank opinions.

Mom was healthy and giving everybody “hell” up until the very end. Today, August 4, 2013, she would have turned 86.

It’s been 7 weeks since Mom died and I saw the bear. And no, I wasn’t seeing things. When David checked his trail cam later that day he had pictures of an adult black bear and a cub that had been on the trail that morning.

Too bad Mom was already gone when I saw the bear. I would have loved telling her about it and hearing her exclaim, “WHAT! You have bears in your backyard!”

 

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Black bear cub in lower right corner of picture. I saw it after sunrise, so it must have been out in the woods with its mother for quite a while.

 

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Adult black bear on a trail in our backyard woods.

 

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The following is the online obituary of my mom as provided to the funeral home.
Adele B. Grose, 85, of Bull Shoals, Arkansas entered into eternal rest June 17, 2013.
Adele moved to the Bull Shoals after Hurricane Katrina. She was born August 4, 1927, to Otto and Margaret Heindl Amthor in New Orleans, LA She married Phillip Grose December 31, 1954 . Adele had a wonderful sense of humor, never met a stranger and had a party every where she went. She spent years working in retail fashion accessories at many places including Sears and finally KMART.
 Adele is survived by husband Phillip Grose of Bull Shoals, AR; two children, Phillip Jr. of Bull Shoals, AR and Marlene Crusta (David) of Montana; five grandchildren; fifteen great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. Her parents, six sisters and two brothers preceded her in death.
Services are private under the direction of Kirby & Family Funeral & Cremation Services.
Source of obituary: Memorial Solutions.com

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