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Mary Carole Hoyt. 1938-1983.

Today marks 29 years since my beautiful mother left this planet. Taken from us way too soon, we barely had time to process that she was sick and then she was gone.

It amazes me that although I’ve lived more years now without her than with her, I still miss her so very much. Mixed with the sadness is this anger at the cruelty of her life cut short just as she began to experiment with spreading her wings.

But I don’t want to write about all the grief and angst surrounding her untimely death. I want this to be about honoring her life – and the amazing gifts that  Carole gave to all of us, to everyone who touched her life. People flocked to her because of her sparkle, her shine, the love and zest for life that spilled forth from her eyes.

I didn’t wait long to become a Mommy myself, and although I was too young and wounded to know much about  how to mother, the one thing I did know was how to give that baby love. This is what I learned from my mother. The ultimate importance of love, affection and knowing how to show it.

What I most admired about my mom (and the quality I longed for) was her passion. She lived in the present and gave each moment her all. She danced like no one was watching and got everyone in the room and up boogeying too. No one knew how to throw a party, or break the tension in a room like Carole did.

Although brought up to be a well-behaved woman too, Mommy broke the rules and spoke up for what she believed to be true. She had a fearless quality, a way of not worrying about the consequences. She just didn’t care if she got in trouble – and trouble she did get into. Her parents attempted to tame that wild spirit by sending her off to Catholic boarding school, but she got herself expelled by running off to dance on one of the first American Bandstand shows. And that’s just one story.

Fluent in French and Spanish, Mommy picked up languages easily because it gave her that much more connection with others. As a child living in Belgium, one of my most prominent memories is listening to her jabbering away in French to friends and neighbors. And laughing, always laughing.

She was a talker, my mom was. It didn’t matter what language. She’d get anyone to open up and share their story and ultimately get them laughing. Maybe even dancing. I don’t think too many people ever walked away from an encounter with my mother without feeling better.

Mommy had a habit of taking in strays – and I don’t mean animals. She wanted to help anyone who was hurting, and she’d invite them into her home and nourish them with her words, her cooking, her wine and her stories. She gave and gave and I don’t believe she ever gave a thought to what she might get in return.

Barely a day goes by that I don’t miss my mom. But each year on March 9th, the loss feels a little more piercing. I wrote about Mommy’s vibrant spirit a bit more eloquently last mother’s day. But today I’m just feeling sad that she’s not here with us.

Sometimes I feel guilty that I’ve been given so many more days on Earth than she was allotted. It somehow seems wrong. And I wonder how many more are left.

But mostly I know that that I need to make each of these precious days count. Our mothers always live on inside of all of us, and I know that Carole lives on in me. It’s time to harness some of that passion and make a difference in the world.

Dancing in the kitchen with some neighbor, circa 1977