Happy Mother's Day
Posted: May 10, 2013
I have been wanting to write this editorial for the past three years, but, for whatever reason, I have never been able to put my thoughts down on paper. I suppose I was afraid that a column like this could open old wounds. But I'm pretty sure it will be therapeutic.
My mom, Arty, passed away three years ago this past March. She battled for 20 years after she was first diagnosed with cancer. She was in remission for about 15 years before the cancer took her life.
Arty was an elementary school teacher for many years after serving as a substitute teacher until all three of us Ropa boys were going to school full-time. She received awards for her teaching ability and enjoyed making a difference in a young child's life.
My mother enjoyed music, which is why I would buy her a contemporary music CD each Christmas. She liked to dance and she loved to entertain. Growing up on a small lake in Northern Illinois afforded Arty the opportunity to host her students, their siblings and parents to the lake for an afternoon of boating, swimming and fishing.
Arty was a professional hooker. Of course, I'm talking about rug hooking. (She hated when I told that joke). My mom started a rug hooking guild in two different towns in Illinois and was part of a national association promoting the art of rug hooking.
But most of all, Arty had a deep faith. I never fully understood her beliefs until after she had passed. I often wished I would've spent more time trying to understand why she could smile, joke and help others when she was in so much pain. Only now, a few years later, do I have a better knowledge what it means to have that type of faith.
When my girlfriend, Lisa, came back into my life nearly four years ago with her two teenagers, I wasn't sure how to balance my old life and new family. Arty was all about family and was truly the matriarch of the Ropa clan. As the oldest of three boys, things came relatively easy to me and I probably didn't cherish the important things in life like I should have.
I think Arty would be proud of what I've done, where I hope to be and who I share my life with. When Lisa and I have a disagreement, she reminds me that she's not my mother. But it dawned on my a few weeks ago, that Lisa is so much like Arty: Committed to family, her faith and unconditional support for those she loves.
I miss Arty every day. But I know I was blessed to have her as my mother. Happy Mother's Day to all - especially Lisa.