Jay Rifenbary

Jay Rifenbary's Blog

A Tribute to a Mother's Love


As I sat by my mother's bedside this past week as she prepared to go to her heavenly Father, I reflected on how deep a love can be between a mother and son. She was there when I took my first breath, and it was only fair that I be there for her last. Although so terribly sad, it was also joyful and humbling to reminisce on her life, family, friends and happy memories. Dorothy Rifenbary was a woman of principle and conviction, and had a sense of humor that was with her to the end. As I shared with her that she would be forever healthy where she was going, she responded, "Which way am I going up or down?" Of course laughter was shared as I held her hand, and assured her that it was most likely up. She had a passion for life that included her love of family, service to her community, and enjoying as many rounds of golf as possible. Of course, her day wasn't complete without a little nip of her Smirnoff martini.

Mom was 44 years young when her husband, my father, passed away from cardiac arrest. From that moment, she was determined to not permit the loss of a husband and father to be used as an excuse not to persevere. She dedicated her life to exemplify strength of personal character, and a devotion to her children. Mom was committed to instilling manners in her children, and had an expectation of respectfulness from all she encountered. Her enthusiastic spirit and infectious zest for life will be remembered, and treasured beyond her mortal life.

As the priest administered "last rites" with family at her side, she participated with a faithfulness of optimism and peace that was spiritually comforting to herself, and all who were present. The strength of a family's love conquers all opposition to the goodness of humanity. If you consider intestinal fortitude to be a core value, than my mother was the queen of that personal characteristic. What values do you admire of those you love? Have you ever shared with them your appreciation for those values they exemplify? Every day is a day to be giving, to be thoughtful of others, and to be thankful for the blessings you have. She lived a full life with joy and sadness, success and defeat, confidence and self-doubt, but she never gave up on her quest to make a positive difference in others and her community.

As I reflect on my childhood, I remember my mother supporting me in every endeavor, yet with a strictness of ensuring I was respectful of others, and lived up to what she felt to be the standard of our family. Although I did not always comply with her expectations by my actions, her expectations and what she felt I could achieve, were always part of my mindset. As Mark Twain stated, "My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it." It was that consistency of expectation and belief, that was a catalyst for me in striving to be the best husband, father, professional, and person I could be.

Our final days together were a time of reflection, apologies, forgiveness, smiles, tears, laughter, understanding, respect and most importantly mutual love. During the course of our relationship there were times the past would surface and result in emotional impatience, but the love between mother and son was always present. Our love was strong and genuine enough to endure all that we had experienced together. To say that her children and grandchildren respect her would be an understatement, and her love will forever be part of each of us. As a son, I could not have asked for a better role model in regard to experiencing the strength and endurance of a woman's determination. True grit was truly Dorothy. My memories of your beautiful maternal spirit I will always treasure. Thank you for giving me life, and the opportunity to experience what it means to genuinely live. Please say hello to Dad for me. I know the both of you are already enjoying a round of golf, and are making up for the many years of love that was lost so long ago.

I will forever love you.

Thursday, October 01, 2020

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