"Life is like a piano-what you get out of it depends on how you play it." Mom played it beautifully. She died November 16th after living 97 years with a joyful spirit and a grateful heart. She loved her family above all else.

Music was a constant in her life. Mother started entire music programs, both vocal and instrumental, in Villard, Minn. and Fertile, IA; taught general music plus chorus for 25+ years, directed choirs at East Side Lutheran Church and introduced folk guitar programs in Sioux Falls, S.D.; and won many awards, incoluding Outstanding Music Educator of South Dakota in 1987. But nothing meant more to her than the cards from former students and parents.

Mother accomplished much in her life, and faced many challenges with strength and dignity. I'm most proud of her, though, by the way she handled her last challenge, living with Alzheimer's disease. Aptly called "The Long Goodbye", it was a series of losses:

- Loss of friends (when it became too much trouble to be with mom and listen to her repeat herself)
- Loss of mobility (no longer driving; confined to a wheelchair after breaking both hips)
- Loss of control (living in a locked memory care unit, where mom and the other residents didn't know how they got there or how they could get out)
- Loss of abilities
- Loss of memory

Mom was kind, humble, had a strong faith and a great sense of humor. Even with Alzheimers, her humor would unexpectedly come out. Once we were holding hands, waiting for an exercise class to begin. Mom looked deep in thought, so I asked her what she was thinking. She chuckled and answered, "I really don't know!"

I'm blessed she was my mom.