Reflecting on my remarkable mother’s blessedly long and colorful life, so many memories bubble up. I’m eight years old, sitting in my third grade class, when I’m called to the Principal’s office for reasons unknown. (Betty Grimm wasn’t terrifying for her name alone). When I get there, convinced I must have done something dreadful despite my rock-solid teacher’s pet status, my mother is in the office, chatting up Principal Grimm. Mom says to me brightly, “Sweetheart, you have a dentist appointment this afternoon. I forgot to remind you this morning.”
She signs me out of school and takes me by the hand. (Our dentist, Dr. Joel Kudler, was the kind of gentle, sweet guy whom we all adored. But still, I’m thoroughly confused.) On our walk to the car in the warm sunlight, I ask, “I have a dentist appointment…??” She whispers conspiratorially, “You don’t. I’m taking you to a screening of Oliver!”
My. Mom. Lied. To. The. Principal. To take me, the middle kid… to a movie.
In the middle of a school day. It doesn’t get more badass than that.
(Over 30 years later, my husband and I pay homage to my mom’s example, taking our kids out of school with the ruse that they’re going to the doctor. My husband took it a step further, telling them they were getting SHOTS. Our daughter got suspicious when we passed the exit for her doctor’s office, but as we approached our destination, we played the Harry Potter theme and told them to check under their car seats, where the movie tickets were hidden. They really loved the movie, of course, but they were incredibly relieved about the shots.)
Today marks exactly one month since we lost our mother. Love you forever, my incomparable, brilliant, ingeniously loving momma.
– Eden Ashley Umble, daughter
March 23, 2022