Remembering Rita

mother's dayIt’s Mother’s Day this Sunday, the time of year when we honor the most important women in our lives. In the past, I’ve used this platform to celebrate my mother and my wife, Amy. This year, though, my wife, my girls, and my family are going into Mother’s Day weekend with heavy hearts.

My mother-in-law, Rita Walker, passed away one week ago today. I had the privilege of knowing Rita (or “Reet” as my father-in-law, Jim, called her) for 25 years. Folks who knew Rita would describe her as “one-of-a-kind”. I think my brother-in-law, Don, put it best when he dryly stated: “She didn’t have much of a filter”. You always knew where you stood with Rita – whether you wanted to or not! Her mind was as sharp as her tongue, and her quick wit never faded.

Amy’s parents, Rita and Jim, were married for 57 years and they loved to dance. This picture, which hangs in our home, shows the incredible couple at the beginning of their lifelong courtship – full of youth, full of life, and falling in love. It looks like they were ready to get started on those six kids, doesn’t it?!

Working and raising six kids would be more than enough for most people, but not Rita. She was an active volunteer leader in both the Shriner’s Club and the Elks. She was also a constant presence at the kids’ schools, helping with fundraisers and school activities. This was greatly appreciated by the staff and faculty, even if it wasn’t always appreciated by her kids!

Jim and Rita hosted many a pig-pickin’ at their Raleigh, NC home, and everyone was invited. The Walkers’ door was always open, and I mean that literally. I don’t recall the front door ever being locked!

Jim and Rita were hard working, generous, and fun-loving folks. I am very thankful to have known them, and I am very proud to be part of the Walker clan. This Mother’s Day, we’ll be saying a final ‘goodbye’ to one of the great women in our lives. If your mother or grandmother is no longer with us, I encourage you to use the time to share favorite memories and stories with the next generations. In our family, 14 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren will be hearing “Rita stories” for years to come. And, if you’re lucky enough to still do so, make sure you…

Hug your Mom this weekend,