(Photos by Gail McNeeley)
Our mother, Jennifer Gibson, was kind, loving, smart, beautiful, talented, and caring. She was loved by everyone and adored children as well. We took her off life support on her 39th birthday, and on January 17, 2003 our mother passed away.
Kassi was 12 years old, and I was 14. This was a very difficult time in our lives. We were barely teenagers, and we were entering into the years when it was critical for teenage girls to have their mother, because dads don’t really know about those womanly details. We had a lot of questions, and even though there were female figures in our lives, it wasn’t the same as having our mother around.
Some things we learned on our own and other things we were taught. It didn’t get any easier as we grew up. We’re at the age now where we are getting married and starting our own families. It hurts to know that our mother won’t be there to help us pick out our wedding dress or to help us get dressed on our wedding day. She won’t be there to hold our hand and tell us to push when we have our own children. We will never take for granted the times we got to spend with her. It may not have been long, but we cherish every bit of it.
“One of my biggest memories of my mommy was Knott’s Berry Farm. We would ride the rides together and she would hold my hand.” Kassi says. “I distinctly remember walking around looking for a bathroom and seeing a booth that had toys and stuffed monkeys; the kind that hang around your neck. I became super excited because I loved monkeys at that age. Mom took me to the bathroom and when we were walking back, she stopped and bought me that monkey. I was filled with joy that day. She was such a wonderful woman.”
Every summer, our cousins would come from Phoenix to spend a couple of weeks with us just to get away from their families. There were always kids from the neighborhood at our house doing homework or just playing. Our mom was very involved in our lives whether it was a choir concert, coaching our cheer team for Pop Warner football, or helping me pick out my dresses and doing my hair for my eighth grade graduation and freshman homecoming. She always knew what we wanted or needed without being asked or told. I remember when I was in sixth grade, I fell in love with this ring I had seen in a store catalog. I never thought I would get it.
It was a 14-karat gold ring, with a heart and diamonds in the center. On Valentine’s Day, mom picked me up from school, and in her hand was a little velvet box. Inside that box was the ring that I had been looking at in the catalog. She had surprised me in front of my friends with my first diamond ring.
She always knew the right thing to say too, especially when kids at school were being bullies. She was my best friend and my mentor. I couldn’t have asked for a better mother.
Kassi recalled that,”It was in the 6th grade when mom became sick. I stayed home from school all the time claiming to be “sick” because I wanted to spend time with her. We would play card games and watch movies together. Our favorite card games were Uno and Skip-bo. I still remember the day she was taken to the hospital and the day the doctor talked to my dad about taking her off life support. I was devastated. I knew exactly what the doctor was going to say. My best friend, my mommy, was leaving me. To this day I can’t watch videos with her voice or listen to a specific song. It was hard not having her at my wedding and helping me plan it all out. She will always be in my heart forever.”
When she got sick, we did everything we could to help her. I remember the morning we got the phone call telling us that she had passed away. It was 4 a.m., and I remember feeling that my mommy was never coming home. My best friend was gone forever.
“I am very thankful that I got to meet her and spend 12 years getting to know her.” Kassi said.
Note from Nikki: One day I bumped into Krystina at the grocery store. In her hands, a spray of purple irises sat and her eyes looked a little glassy. She said it was her mother’s birthday and Kassi was meeting her at the gravestone. Roses, Krystina said, were her mothers favorite flower, but since they didn’t have any, Krystina later explained she picked the prettiest flowers she could find in the store.
If you would like, please leave a short prayer in the comments section for these two girls and for the amazing woman that mothered them and their family. If only we could be so lucky as to leave a legacy such as this!