My tribute to my mom:
Kathleen Wallace Bisbee
February 2, 1942 - June 11, 2012
February 2, 1942 - June 11, 2012
One of the first things I learned during my first semester of college at BYU was that I took my mom for granted and that she really did know more than me. This knowledge continued to grow as I married, moved to California, and gave birth to my daughter....my mom was the smartest woman on earth...AMAZING!!! I even named my first born after this amazing woman (Sarah Kathleen). When I divorced I decided that I didn't want to stay in California, instead I wanted to bring my little girl back to Arkansas so she could know her grandparents....many years later I realize it was one of my best decisions. Sarah's wedding was one of the last major events my mom was able to be at before she passed on June 11, 2012. I was blessed to speak at her funeral and have decided to include that talk here in my blog more for journaling than entertainment. (I will eventually get back to my regular blogging at some point).
Kathleen Wallace Bisbee, 70, of Little Rock, passed away June 11, 2012. She was born on February 2, 1942 in Gillett, AR to Leo Richard and Ella Florine Cook Wallace. Kathleen married the love of her life, Frank Walter Bisbee August 28, 1959.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Frank Walter Bisbee, daughter, Robin Freeman and brother, Jack Walton Wallace, she is survived by daughters, Dr. Connie Bisbee Tollett (Cecil) and Marnita Bisbee; sons, Robert Bisbee and Christopher Bisbee; sisters, Dorothy Ritter, Anita Trimble (Eugene), Karen Lee (Roy), Barbara Starks, Lisa Weilacher (Jerry) and Mona Wallace; grandchildren, Joshua Tollett (Erica), Sarah Ratliff Jensen (Nathan), Caleb Tollett, Bryan Bisbee, Bailey West Bisbee, Kristen Bisbee, Brenden Bisbee and Taylor Freeman; and great-grandchildren, Hayden Tollett, Gracie Tollett, Devon Jensen, Ethan Jensen and Jordan Jensen; and a host of nieces, nephews, family and friends.
One of the things that I remember most about my mom as a child was how well she could sew. She had 3 daughters to sew for and she actually loved sewing for us. I remember the one and only time as a little kid actually buying clothes from a store….I was about 6 years old and getting ready to start 1st grade, so my mom took me to Sears to buy new dresses for the school year….after that she didn’t buy clothes…she sewed them. She was a very talented seamstress….everything she made for us looked as though it had been store bought…as I got older my friends would ask me where I bought that dress/shirt or whatever and I would cringe and say “my mom made it”….they were so impressed but I really wasn’t ….I would beg for a store bought clothing item of any kind. By the time I was in 6th grade and getting ready for junior high, I really wanted some real blue jeans (not the kind my mom made for me)…so she told me if I could save for at least half of the cost she MIGHT help me with the other half….I eventually made enough money with some help from her to actually buy that first pair of blue jeans. She eventually had to give up sewing due to the loss of eyesight. However, she loved to watch Marnita and I sew our quilts and things. She wasn’t shy about telling us that a quilt block looked terrible b/c of the colors chosen but she would also tell us which blocks she liked.
It was through her abilities as a seamstress that she could really disguise the fact that we were really poor while growing up. We always had something new fairly often through her sewing or she always managed to scrape up any money needed for special occasions to do things with our friends. Growing up I never knew I was poor and it wasn’t until many years later that I realized all that she sacrificed so that her kids could have something. My mom LOVED Elvis Presley, and had an opportunity to attend his concert when he came to LR. I remember her talking about it years later and I asked her why didn’t she go when she could have, she replied that the ticket was $10 and if she spent the money on herself she was afraid that it might be needed for the family and then she wouldn’t have it….so she choose not to go.
My mom started working outside of the home when I was in the 1st grade. She would work in the evenings so my dad would be home with us at night and eventually she switched to working days. She never taught us to use an alarm clock…she was our alarm clock. She would walk into our rooms singing to us each morning to get us up for breakfast and school. And she was a phone call away in the afternoons when we returned home….the phone would start ringing as we walked through the door….she would ask us about our day and then instruct us on what chores we needed to complete before she got home. There were many times she would come home extremely tired from being on her feet all day and one of us girls would meet her in the doorway with a request for a new outfit that we absolutely had to have by Saturday for some kind of dance or super Saturday or whatever it might be. Usually our requests were made on a Tuesday or Wednesday of the same week. She never said “why didn’t you tell me this last week” instead she always would say, “let me see what I can do” and then she would bring home a pattern and some fabric then begin cutting out and sewing. I always knew that outfit would be finished in time for me to wear on the day needed but what I didn’t know until much later was the price of that outfit…..my mom staying up late at night then getting up early to go to work --- standing on her feet for 8 hours----coming home to finish cooking dinner that I started ----then setting up that sewing machine and going at it again into the late hours.
My mom grew up in the small town of Gillett, AR. At some point she met this marine who was on leave visiting his own family in this small town. She and the marine started dating and eventually fell in love. She was a teenager and had to wait for the marine to complete his service and once he did he came back to this small town and swept her off her feet….this is the sweet shortened version, but this small town girl and the marine decided to elope. I could say they lived happily ever after and basically they did, but there were some bumps in the road and sometimes there were huge potholes in the road, but they met the obstacles with determination and continued on and their love for each other continued to grow deeper and deeper. My dad was my mom’s best friend. They did everything together and went everywhere together and they held hands while doing so. My dad always told me that “mama comes first”.
My mom faced many trials during her lifetime. And for the most part I think she handled them with a somewhat positive attitude. I don’t remember her ever laying her head down and giving up. She always did what she had to do to get through them. One of the biggest trials she faced was when my dad had a motorcycle accident which put his leg in a cast for a very long time. Because of this he couldn’t work for over a year or longer which really affected our family finances and dynamics. In the beginning my mom worked her 8 hours then went to the hospital to spend a couple of hours with my dad who was in tremendous pain, and then she would come home to her kids and all the things that went with having 5 kids at home.
Although my mom worked full time she always managed to be on the sidelines for our activities. She spent many days watching her kids play ball of some sort. As each grandchild came along she continued sitting on the sidelines cheering them on in their sports.
My mom had a love for travel combined with a love of history. Since we didn’t have money for vacations she did the next best thing…we traveled Arkansas and learned Arkansas history in the process. When we actually were able to go on a real vacation she didn’t take us to Disney World….we went to places of historical importance and learned more history….one time we were going to my cousin’s wedding in Illinois…..this was not a simple trip to a wedding…she managed to squeeze in more American history and church history with a side trip to Nauvoo (which wasn’t the Nauvoo it is today). Eventually my mom was able to travel to all 50 of the United States and DC. There is a lot of history across this country and she managed to show a lot of it to us as we traveled with her. AND, we finally went to Disney World with her but we were adults at that time!
My mom loved spending time with family. We spent many holidays in Gillett with her sisters and parents. Later in her life she and her sisters would plan a “sisters weekend” where they would usually go canoeing together. They also traveled Arkansas together and eventually went beyond the state line to other places.
When someone passes this world, we have a tendency to focus on all the good things about that person. My mom had many good qualities about her but she also had her own share of faults as well. She wasn’t a perfect person but in our eyes she was the closest thing to a perfect mom.
I feel truly blessed that I was able to spend so much time with my mom. As adults we became friends. We laughed together, we cried together, we commiserated together and we enjoyed her life together. Just this past Saturday morning as I was at their house (sewing and watching college baseball) my mom shared a dream that she had the night before. She told us that she dreamed she was dressed in white and was with my dad. She said there were many people there in white as well and that she and my dad were getting married in this big ceremony. She told us that my sister Robin was there with them but she couldn’t understand why we weren’t there for this big day. I think my mom was being prepared in some way to make that cross over from life to death. I know that she is at peace now. I know she is with my dad and my sister, as well as her parents and others. I know there was a celebration of her homecoming there just as there is sadness here of her leaving.
Mom, you are missed so very much. Thank you for all the life lessons you taught us. Thank you for your support when we screwed up. Thank you for laughing with us and for crying with us. Thank you for the sacrifices you made for each of us. We love you always.
For now the doctor is out, remembering what a wonderful mom she was blessed with.