A Legacy of Love - Lessons We Learned from our Momma

Tribute to Our Amazing Mother

Sara Lou Shuldberg Blomquist

Born: February 6, 1929

Died: April 17, 2019

Barb: If you go to Google and look up the definition of Love, it says Sara Lou Shuldberg Blomquist.

Sue: Like every person on the planet, by design, our mother wasn’t perfect, but we think she was pretty darn close. What sets her apart from most is that she was the embodiment of love. I’ve always said that if I could even be 10% of the woman she is, and love the way she loved, I’d be happy.  

Barb: Of all the lessons we learned from our mother, we realized that love was at the core of everything. Her strength, resilience, resourcefulness, creativity, determination, confidence, humor, and even her sass all have love at their core.  She simply was love. It’s who she is. With Sally, everything came from love. love, love, and when she had loved enough, just for fun, she would always add a little bit more love.

Sue: Our mother taught us how to love others by showing us that loving others was best done in the doing. And doing love takes a lot of energy. She taught us that we could always get done what we wanted to do, even if common sense would say it was time to quit.  Often she was obviously tired, even exhausted, and yet she kept on going and going, taking little or no thought for herself. Why? Because being tired was optional. Loving others wasn’t.

Barb: As we have been in her home over the last decade, we’ve found a small mountain of thank you notes. It’s a social etiquette not everyone participates in these days, and yet, there are hundreds of them we’ve found in her home, evidence of her love. Many of them written by people we don’t even know who they are. Not only did she receive them, she wrote them. She was grateful for everything. Some of you, like me, may have received a thank you notes for the beautiful thank you note she received from you.

Sue: Because of her love, she was committed, committed to family, neighbors, and friends. Her kindness exhibited itself in the form of cards, treats, pots of soup, quilts, prom dresses, three square meals a day, laundry, laundry, laundry, with even the pillow cases pressed to perfection. Oh, and her BREAD! It became her signature, right?

Barb: It’s impossible to know how many loaves of bread she lovingly baked and gave to everyone in this room. Or how many dollars were raised from the loaves of her bread at Scout auctions.

Sue: And remember the cookies? They were a mainstay at our house, more often than not made with the intention to take the lion’s share, if not all of them, to others. I even remember the DO NOT EAT sign, placed on top of her efforts, in an attempt to keep our little mitts off.   

Barb: And, boy, was she committed to her family! As you know, that commitment meant that she lovingly did everything over the top. She was doggedly devoted. Baby quilts, holiday pillowcases, holiday treats, and Christmas ornaments. She couldn't help herself but show up large. She had an uncanny ability to remember her family’s birthdays. (And lots of others, too.) She was there, with a gift, that was beautifully wrapped with one of her signature bows to celebrate and show her love for each one of us. It wasn’t so much the gift, as often the gift was something very simple, but how she wrapped it, is the way in which she showed you that you were special. She tirelessly sat at her sewing machine making ridiculous amounts of teeny tiny Barbie Doll clothes for her grandchildren. She also gifted each grandchild with a set of Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls that she painstakingly made for each, even stuffing a little heart inside so that her love would always be with them. This made her so happy to know that the people she loved would have evidence of her love.   

Sue: Because of her passion for love, creativity blossomed inside of her. It became her magic ingredient. She never let abundance, or the lack thereof, keep her from doing her best to help others and to help them feel special.

Barb: She loved to create from the simplest ingredients, magic on a shoestring.

Barb: divinity.

Sue: fudge,  

Barb: treat bags,

Sue: a flower for a birthday,

Barb: the perfect tiny bow added to a package,

Sue: brownies,

Barb: a strawberry pie. These were how she showed her love.

Sue: Speaking of brownies and pies, I laugh to think of the day, after I got married mind you, that I discovered that there were such things as brownie mixes and frozen pies that you could actually purchase at the grocery store. Whaaaa? I had no idea.  

Barb: Many in today’s world don’t think it’s politically correct to call yourself a homemaker. For our mother, being a homemaker and having her own family was the bomb, just another way to love and to love hard. She even loved being a mother to teenagers. Funny thing is, she wasn’t a very demanding mother. Regretfully now I realize, the seven of us got away with murder...She did 90% of all the work in our home. Shopping, cleaning, and cooking. The only things I remember consistently doing were the dishes on my dish day, once a week and with my sisters on Sundays. And the boys mowed the lawn. She was so consistent at preparing three meals daily, I was literally sixteen before I had ever eaten pizza.

Sue: And in our home, she expressed her love by making sure everything was special. Having her own family meant everything to her and she made sure that she was going to do her very best to take care of them and give them everything she could think of.  Whether it was a clean butter plate when you got out another cube of butter or a beautifully set table, everything she did came from doing her very best.

Barb: I think Christmas was probably her favorite way to express her love. She would box piles of gifts for each of us, write our names on the corner, and then, on wrapping day, she would instruct us to wrap our own presents as there simply wasn’t time for her to do all of the wrapping herself.  

Sue: For me, I was always SO tempted to peek in my boxes, because she never even taped them shut. But I never did.

Barb: Oh I certainly did. I peeked in every box and found myself stunned to see that what I thought was MY dress didn’t actually show up on Christmas morning. Of course, I couldn’t ask her where it was, or she would know I had peeked. When I got to church that morning, my heart warmed and in that moment I learned who my mother was, when I saw Roscena walk in the door, wearing that dress.

Sue: Our Christmas tree would also be literally stuffed with gifts, to the gills as they say. Yes, often the gifts were socks, underwear, and the necessities of life, but there was always something special.

Barb: When there was an outfit with a skirt and a top, each part would be wrapped separately because why would you wrap one gift when you could wrap two? She wanted to create the experience of being surprised.  The anticipation was as important as the event.

Sue: She was also a bit of an over-planner and as such would pace herself in the giving, making sure she would have plenty at the end to give, which ended up not only being enough but often way over the top. I remember many times, because she could really stretch a dollar, that she would literally start shopping for the next Christmas on December 26th.  

Barb: Not only did she love everyone, but she also exuded a confidence the showed she loved herself. She did take time to take care of herself. She loved a good hot bath and got up early to be able to take a few minutes for herself. It was important to always look her best. She always did her hair, her nails, and dressed up for all occasions. She loved navy blue and black and bright jewel tone colors. Stripes, checks, and polka dots were her signature style.

Sue: Her sense of humor was fabulous. Life was funny and she giggled and laughed from her head to her toes. She loved a good joke, was a tease, and consistently planned and executed the best white elephant at our annual sibling Christmas party. It’s how she showed us that she loved us. Everyone would avoid those deceptively beautifully wrapped gifts because often, they were the real stinkers. However, she liked to throw a surprise into the mix, and often that deceptively beautiful gift was actually the nicest gift of the party.

Barb: For the last couple of years, sharing how much she loved us was almost like a mission to her. She needed to know, that we knew, how much she loved us. And you know what, I don’t think we can really understand how deep that love really was. And to say “I love you” has simply become part of each of our family’s daily vocabulary.

Sue: I can’t count how many times in my life she asked me, “Do you know how much I LOVE YOU?” or she would say, “I don’t think you can have ANY idea how much I love you.” And she said this to everyone she loved. For a long time, I thought I was her favorite, and yet I came to understand that we were ALL her favorite. Her capacity to love was enormous.

Barb: Her love was also very much entwined with her love of the gospel. Her testimony was rock solid.

Sue: I remember walking into her bedroom on many occasions and finding her on her knees in prayer at random times of the day. I would quietly back out of the room, knowing that she was praying for strength for herself and also for other people that she knew needed her prayers.

Barb: Her capacity for love inspired her to act on the promptings she received from Heavenly Father. To me, it seemed that she acted on every prompting she ever got. That may not be true, but it sure seemed like it was because she was so quick to get into action for others. While I have a long way to go she inspires me to look even harder and to really listen to Heavenly Father’s promptings and follow her example to follow through.

Sue: She had a keen ability to help others feel loved. For me, I always knew she loved me, and I always knew that she loved her family. She looked forward to the day she would meet her own mother, who had passed away the day she was born. I always knew that there was no doubt in her mind that she would see her mother again, and to her, it would feel glorious.

Barb: Mom, you finally have your wish. I can’t even imagine what that reunion must have looked and felt like. Your mother and father are proud, I’m sure.

Sue:  We love you, mom. and are beyond the moon grateful that you were our mother.

Barb: Mom. You have inspired us and will continue to do so. Because of you, we are continually in a place where we aspire to be a better people, people who contribute and love as you did.

Sue NelsonComment