Posted by: erinmelissa | December 12, 2008

My Famous Mom

I didn’t realize how far my mom’s legacy had spread until Tim’s work party.  Here I was, sitting among a table of complete strangers, when one of the guys asked, “Hey Tim, do you know the Koth’s?”  Tim doesn’t, of course, but I do.  So, I said I went to church with them growing up.  Evidently, Maureen, one of my mom’s best friends, had put together that Tim worked at this company with her neighbor, the man across the table.  I said, “My mom must have told Maureen where you worked.”  The man’s wife then said, “Who’s your mom?”  This is the first time I’ve been confronted with whether to say, “My mom is,” or “My mom was.”  I had a sneaking suspision this woman knew my mom, or at the very least, known of her.  If that was the case, I didn’t think at the table was the appropriate time to explain that she was gone.  So, I went ahead with, “My mom is Ellen Burns.”  She nodded and said, “You look like her.”   She followed up by asking how the family was doing, and expressing her condolences.  It was very sweet and gentle, and I appreciated the quiet way she did that, so that the whole tables attention wasn’t drawn to a hard subject.  But, I thought, how funny that someone 15 miles from home knew my mom.  But, actually, it happens a lot.

I grew up in a church of around 1000 members.  It didn’t strike me as strange that my mom knew every single one of them.  Literally, every person.  But, now that I’m in a church of a similar size, and know maybe 20 people, I’m realizing my mom was quite popular.  She was in the limelight even before she got sick.  The church was her home.  She loved being there and ministering to people, especially youth. 

I knew that, after she got sick she had doctors nation wide meeting solely to look over her files.   She had an impossible surgery that removed her sternum – one that, to my knowledge, had never been done before.  I found out after she died, that someone was writing a book about her experience with cancer, and the graceful way she handled it.  But, the reality of how far she her testimony reached never struck me until recently.

It doesn’t help that I’m her spitting image.  People have actually come up to me in public places and said, “Ellen?”  That’s a strange experience.  Anyway, all that to say, my mom touched lives in the medical field, the church, the schools we went to…everywhere she went.  And it becomes more apparent everyday.

Sorry, for taking such a solemn turn, but my thoughts are on her as the holidays approach, and it’s easier to write then to talk about her.  So, I’m using this forum to get my thoughts out in a coherent manner.  If you knew her, I would love to hear a story from you.

Enjoy your families this holiday.

The whole family (except Mitsuki)

The whole family (except Mitsuki)


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