Mary Janet Allis Peterson • Oil on Canvas by Kenneth R. Peterson
Mary Janet Allis Peterson
May 24, 1925 ~ February 15, 2014
Oil on Canvas by Kenneth R. Peterson

… for the sadness to go away? I didn’t realize how often I thought of her, how often I called her to chat about this and that. I wasn’t aware of the space she filled in my days. I wasn’t aware. She was opinionated, outspoken and impatient, and I was often upset by our conversations. Even so, I called her frequently, happy to hear the sound of her voice. She was my mother, my rock, and my wake-up call. And she was a remarkable woman.She married the love of her life, artist Kenneth Peterson, in 1948 and their life together was rich with family and friends. He died suddenly at age 49, leaving her with three children to raise on her own. She never re-married.

She created a good life for herself and her children working as an executive secretary, a bank teller, a fabric store manager. She loved fashion. She was always beautifully dressed. She was smart, out-spoken and direct, and while her daughter is prone to fits of day-dreams (‘Kristy, you think too much!’), my mother became softer, more patient with me as she aged. She loved to read; her bookcase shelves were full and piles of books spilled out on the floor around them. She lived with passion. Her retirement was filled with creative projects, many more than she could ever finish. She was insatiably creative. A piece of her embroidery reads, “Busy hands are happy hands.” She loved needle-work of all kinds, cooking, painting and drawing. My father once asked her to withdraw from his portrait painting class, because she was so good, she intimidated his students. (She really was that good.)

Once I told her, “I know the time is coming, but I’ll be devastated when Munch-cat dies.” She grew silent and stared hard at me with steely green eyes. She knew her time was coming and I couldn’t face it. She seemed to push me out into the world, forcing me into a strong role that didn’t fit.

Her picture is next to her number on my phone. I’m keeping her there for awhile, yet. If only we could have a little more time. I still have so many questions and so many, many things to tell you, Mom!


5 comments on “How Long Will It Take”

  1. Dear Kris, Our mother/daughter relationships are so laced with emotion, difficulties, intensities and complexities. I feel the passion in your heart for your Mom and her loss… I’m sure she felt your love, knowing that you were there for her… May your heart find comfort in knowing this, and in knowing that you always did what felt right in your heart, and that it was enough… Heart Hugs – Christine

  2. I’m crying as I write this. Beautifully written. The finality of death can be hard to bare. I finally came to terms with my father’s death when watching a MASH rerun where a 19 year old soldier died shortly before midnight on Christmas day and they chose to delay his actual death until after midnight for the sake of the family. It put dad’s death more into perspective. I got to know your mother well and we loved her. I think of her every time I use her potholders. Take care, Kris, and thanks for sharing your feelings. Take comfort in knowing she knew
    you loved her. Joyce Stepanek

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