A mother’s love is rivaled only by the love her child reciprocates.
A phenomenal friend and incredible individual, Kris, lost his mother this past March to ovarian cancer. The battle for her life lasted just under two years and exemplified exactly what it means to never give up.
It’s not difficult to see how much Kris cared about his mother. There were only a handful of days in which he wasn’t by her side throughout the course of her fight. A special bond undoubtedly existed between the two.
At her funeral, Kris, with the help of his brother Michael, delivered a heartfelt message that expressed their love for their mother.
These are his inspiring words…
Celebrating the Life of Marlys Nelson
Thank you all for being here today. It means a great deal to my family. My mom and dad were real lovebirds and during times when they needed to cheer each other up they would look at each other and say “butterflies, bumblebees, crocuses.” So… if you wouldn’t mind taking 30 seconds or so to turn to your neighbors here and greet them by saying “butterflies, bumblebees, crocuses,” I would appreciate it . Thank you.
My mom felt overwhelmed by all of the kindness shown by so many family members and friends over these last couple of years as she battled cancer. She would say “I have so many people to thank, where do I even start?!” She did not have enough time to send out all of the thank you notes she intended to write, however she did express her appreciation to as many kind people as she could. On my mom’s behalf I would like to extend a sincere thank you to all of the family members and friends who did something kind for my mom during the last couple of years (and last few months especially). Whether it was a note in the mail cheering her up, a phone call, a visit, a ride for her and/or my dad to the hospital, running an errand for them, whatever the act of kindness was, my mom deeply appreciated it. I’d also like to thank all of the health care professionals who cared for my mom these past couple of years. A special thanks goes to the University of Colorado Cancer Center – Anschutz where my mom’s ovarian cancer surgery was performed almost two years ago, the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center Boulder where my mom received wonderful care and love that heals, the Boulder Community Hospital – Foothills location where my mom received excellent care through her last round of chemotherapy to start this year, the Broomfield Skilled Nursing Center who helped prepare my mom to move back home recently, and the Boulder County Hospice who helped our whole family prepare for my mom’s end-of-life journey. Doctors and nurses are special people. It seemed like whenever my mom needed it, a nurse would come into my mom’s room and give her a big hug and kiss and make her feel like a million bucks inside. Love heals is a motto used by the Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers and it couldn’t be more true.
Love has an amazing healing effect.
I would also like to extend a special thank you to three important people who have been amazing to my mom and me over the past couple of years especially and really much longer than that. The first is my beautiful wife Kari. I wake up every day feeling like the luckiest man alive to have her as my wife. My mom adored Kari. She would say “Kari is like Princess Kate Middleton, but even cuter and sweeter.” And she was exactly right. A little over a week ago we were at my parents’ place visiting. My mom was taking a nap in the living room. Kari and I were helping Michael organize some of his stuff in the guest room after his move back from Washington, D.C. My mom woke up and was very agitated and was feeling a significant amount of pain on the left side of her stomach from one of her tumors. I rushed out to try and calm her down and see whatever it was I could do to help her. Mike worked on preparing the medicine to help her feel better and called the folks at Hospice for advice on what to do. My mom was agitated and getting louder and louder for almost a minute when Kari came out, held her hand, gave her a kiss, and told her that everything was going to be alright. My mom looked up, with relief on her face, and simply said “Kari.” No more agitation, no more screaming, pure calm. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen before. Kari had this amazing calming effect on my mom that was so angelic. I love you sweety.
The second person I would like to thank is my brother Michael. Michael and my mom had a special relationship that really took seeing the two of them together to truly appreciate. We have countless great memories together growing up the sons of Marlys and Bob Nelson. Michael was my mama’s baby. I’ll never forget the time about a year and a half ago after my mom had completed her third chemotherapy treatment when Mike flew home from Washington, D.C. to surprise my mom with a visit. We had Mike hide on the back patio and I told my mom I wanted her to open the blinds and look at something outside with me. She opened the blinds and sliding door and started screaming “Michael! Oh Michael! My baby is home!” She then proceeded to hug and kiss him and have him sit down on the couch with her. She was cradling his head like he was a baby. All 6’7”, 240 lbs. of him! It was awesome! Mike had established his young adult life in Washington, D.C. over the past few years. He had a job that he loved as a Crew Supervisor for Casey Trees, a non-profit agency charged with improving the tree canopy in Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland. He had made great friends at work and in the community. He was in the process of interviewing potential companions… a process that is still ongoing, right Mike? He also adopted his dog Oscar while in D.C., who we’ve grown to love. So when I called Mike and told him how ill my mom was in December, it broke my heart to ask him to move home. He never wavered though in his response to me. He wanted to move home, he didn’t feel like he was being pulled home at all. He wanted to help my mom and dad, who had helped him so much over the years. We love Michael so much. Mikey is an uncertified nurse. All of the necessary tasks that come with caring for a person who is seriously ill came natural to him. He has been remarkable.
The third person I would like to thank is my dad. My dad loved my mom unconditionally from the second he laid eyes on her at the Basemar Movie Theater here in Boulder in 1980. In January, my parents celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary! My parents loved each other so much! Their love for each other over the past 30+ years set a great example for my brother and me to follow in our own lives. My dad showered my mom with positivity and love every day they were together. He did everything he could to make my mom happy. We love you dad!
My mom was born in Estherville, IA in 1947 the youngest of six girls. She grew up on a farm that is still in the family today. My mom loved her sweet parents and five sisters dearly from the time she was born, through last week when she left us here on earth, and will continue to love them eternally. There was a special joy my mom received from interacting with her sisters, whether they were visiting in person, talking on the phone, or writing one another. My mom enjoyed her childhood in Estherville. She took piano lessons, developed close friendships that still remain today, performed various chores on the farm, attended church with her family, and had a pretty good childhood overall. After she graduated high school she completed a program at Waldorf College that trained her for medical transcription and secretarial work. For the better part of the following 20+ years of her life, she used the training she had developed to become a phenomenal employee for various organizations in Minneapolis, Denver, and Boulder. Also during this time period, my mom was able to visit family in Norway on two separate trips. My mom is 100% Norwegian and was always so proud of her heritage. My mom loved getting to know her Norwegian family and exploring the homeland of her ancestors. She loved all things Norwegian – crafts, food, culture, you name it.
While my mom had some good times during her twenties and thirties, she also experienced some very difficult times as well. My mom had developed depression and mental illness during this time in her life. For a while she was able to struggle through these illnesses and continue to work full-time, attend church, and plow forward as best she could. However, there were also times when these illnesses debilitated her, sent her to the hospital, and prevented her from working. I can’t fathom how difficult these illnesses were to endure. I think during her darkest days my mom would have traded the way she felt mentally and emotionally for any type of physical pain.
My mom had her ups and downs through her early adulthood and then in 1980 she met my dad here in Boulder. They fell in love instantly. My dad was compassionate and sensitive to my mom’s mental health illnesses because he too suffered from these same ailments. After enduring some tragic events during the early part of his life, depression and mental health illness became a part of him as well. My parents cared for one another, were sympathetic, and loved each other immensely. They married on January 22, 1982, my mom had me in 1983, my brother was born in 1985; our family was now complete. Through the help of my loving grandparents (Ray and Gerry), my parents were able to buy a house in Lafayette, CO which was home to our family for about 25 years.
I was talking with an old neighbor and close friend of ours from Lafayette this past week after my mom had passed and she helped put into words what Michael and I have felt about my mom and dad our entire lives. My mom worried about finances being tight and how her and my dad’s illnesses might impact my brother and I growing up. However, instead of spending too much time dwelling on what she could not provide, my mom devoted herself to loving my brother and me unconditionally. She showered us with love! My mom was such a wonderful mother. She taught us right from wrong. She always kept us fed and well nourished. My mom always made sure we had great attendance in school, and her and my dad always made sure Michael and I could participate in the sports we loved. We didn’t have the prototypical upbringing, whatever that is, but what we did have was a mother and father who put every ounce of love they had into their children. Mike and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Mike and I feel very strongly that all of you can take away an important lesson from my mother’s life. Everyone in this room knows someone who is suffering from depression and/or other mental health illnesses. We encounter these people every day. These people can be helped if we do 3 easy things for them.
One is to understand, the second is to be compassionate, and the third is for you to show them some love, however that may be. This can be as easy as having someone describe their issues to you and providing them with some kind of positive feedback. It could be by helping guide these people towards professional help. It could be helping these people find therapeutic outlets. My mom benefited so much the last decade of her by life by being able express herself through water color painting. Thank you to my mom’s art mentor Merryl Rothaus and everyone at the art studio at Naropa for helping my mom flourish through her artwork.
Compassion, understanding and love. My mom had great people in her life that provided her with these 3 things. With that support she was able to touch so many people’s lives, be a loving wife, and raise two good sons. That’s beautiful.
My mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in May of 2010. While there were many difficult days in the couple of years that followed, there were also some really good days mixed in there as well. Thanks in part to all of the doctors, nurses, and caregivers who helped her along the way and also thanks to my mom’s innate ability to fight for her life every step of the way. We had a stretch of good days last spring and my mom, dad, and I were able to take a road trip back to her hometown of Estherville, Iowa to visit family and friends. While in Estherville we stopped in to visit an old classmate of my mom’s by the name of Evonne Cook. Evonne had a piano and encouraged my mom to sit down and play. We’ve estimated that my mom had probably not touched a piano for somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-15 years prior to sitting down and playing that day. Watching her play with such a tender touch, immense passion, and deep appreciation for music epitomized her as an individual. She was such a wonderful and sweet woman whose spirit and influence will forever remain with me.
We love you mom!