Lois H. Simon

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Remembrance by Joan Simon Shirley

The Day I Heard a Nightingale Sing

Lois Simon, my Mom, has been so much more than a Mom to me. She has been a constant and true friend. Was our relationship perfect? By no means! We had our squabbles and we had our differences of opinion, and because I inherited her gene for being stubborn we each had a tendency to stick to our guns when we remembered things in a little bit of a different fashion. I don’t think anyone knew me quite as well as Mom did and somehow she still liked me. What a gift!

For the last seven years Mom has lived in my hometown of Wrentham. When I first started my campaign to get her to move closer to me she dismissed the idea saying that she always wanted her obituary to read: Lois H. Simon: Born Lived and Died in Westport. I suggested that being born, living and dying in a town that began with the letter W was good enough and she laughed. When I persisted, as I’m known to do, her objection was that she wouldn’t know anyone in that town except for me and my husband, Dick. I responded that there was a retirement village only a mile away from where I lived that looked to be really nice. She countered with: all the people who live there are probably snooty. I replied that I knew some of the people who lived at Pond Meadows and that certainly wasn’t the case. When she told me she was reluctant to leave the Congregational Church that she and Dad had actually helped erect in Westport. I told her there was a fine old Congregational Church located right up the street at the Common in Wrentham. It was my church and I knew how nice those people were.

Mom often told me that once I had an idea in my mind I was like a dog with a bone in its mouth. I ask… how many of you have mothers who compare you to a dog. Her final argument was that she would miss her friends in Westport. This one took a little doing on my part, but I managed to break into her Monday night card game that she played with ladies I have come to think the world of. Dick has since nicknamed them the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. I promised Mom that we would drive down to Westport every Monday night to play cards with her friends and we could visit other friends in the Westport area Monday afternoons. After three years of my persistence I won! For seven years we have driven to Westport almost every Monday to visit friends and play cards with the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

There are sidewalks at Pond Meadows, and both Mom and my dog Willoughby share my passion for walking. Willoughby has many admirers there, and people often greeted him by name before they spoke to Mom or me. For seven years the three of us have taken daily walks from her home to get her mail. I loved it every time my Mom told me how much she liked living at Pond Meadows where everyone is friendly and no one is snooty! It was Willoughby that lay by her side until she was found after her fall last Friday night. My brothers tell me he was barking in a strange way trying to get someone’s attention.

Mom has a plaque on her living room wall that reads: “You mean my grandson is a dog?” Willoughby loves and misses his Grandma. He and I will continue our walks at Pond Meadows and I know Mom will be with us in spirit each time we do.

When my soul is troubled, I have always opened my eyes and ears to what some people call coincidences and others of us call God incidents… which I define as tiny miracles that bring me great comfort. Mom was very aware of this. On the day she passed away, I heard a nightingale sing in London. I have always wanted to hear a nightingale sing but I don’t ever remember mentioning that to Mom. On our way home from the airport Saturday I saw a rainbow. Mom knew I love rainbows and she would call me every time she saw one so that I might be able to photograph it. Sunday morning as I was calling friends and family to tell them my sad news I saw a bluebird trying to get into my living room window. It would attach itself to the screen and look into the house as if he had a message to tell me. A little while later as I was checking my phone messages I listened to the old ones to see which ones could be deleted. Imagine my surprise when I heard my Mom say loudly and clearly in a message I had completely forgotten about: “Joan… I’m home.”

I am so fortunate to have eyes that see and ears that hear so that I don’t overlook the tiny miracles, and my brothers and I are extremely fortunate to have had Lois H. Simon as our mother.

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