Martha Nell Hardy

Four years ago today my spectacular mother, Martha Nell Hardy, died. I was with her when she passed away, for which I am profoundly grateful. She was unconscious; she had been for several days. Perhaps she didn’t know I was there. I hope she did, but I can’t be sure.

We are not a religious family and I have come full circle from ridiculous Roman Catholic convert steeped in studies of doctrinal development (my graduate school experience) to avowed and crusty pantheist, by which I mean that I revere creation, but do not put any credence whatsoever in the existence of some single entity that invented and now micromanages the universe according to some cosmic game plan. Sorry, guys, but no. So I don’t think she has gone to Heaven. I think she has gone to me. She probably has gone to other people as well, undoubtedly my brother Peter, but I can’t speak of their experience. I can only speak of mine.

In the years following her death, I have become more and more like her. I especially notice this with my children, with whom I increasingly interact in much the same way she did. And I am grateful for this, because I think I wasn’t a very good mother before, so maybe she’s helped me make up for some of the bad years.

Then there’s knitting. I’ve always knitted, but now I knit maniacally. And the way I’m going, I might even challenge her record for dying with the most yarn and, let me tell you, hers was an AWESOME record.

I’ve also taken the torch from her as regards politics. She read several papers daily, listened to liberal commentators on TV and ranted with a vehemence and clarity that I now see in myself. As readers will know from previous blogs, I listen to political podcasts all day long and am more than willing to speak my mind, loudly, and for a very long time, indeed, perhaps ad nauseum — you be the judge. Had she lived, I would have gotten her hooked on podcasts, which she would have enjoyed more than newspapers because she could knit and inform her opinions at the same time.

Some might say that it was inevitable that I become like my mother over time, not some voodoo mystery transformational experience wherein her spirit, upon leaving her body, flowed into mine. She was, after all, my mother and provided me with both nurture and nature. But no. I think her spirit, upon leaving her body, did flow into mine, for which I am very, very grateful. It means I don’t have to miss her so much, because, guess what? She’s right here. And because I loved her so much, it means I like me more.

Mom, I love you.

11 thoughts on “Martha Nell Hardy

  1. Jenn says:

    Someone asked me today to teach them how to knit. I learned the basics as a child, but it was your mom, in 1990, who taught me to make my first sweater.

    She was a remarkable woman.

  2. Bob Ackley says:

    Melissa – I can’t believe I’m just now finding this – Your mom and dad played such an important part in my life in El Paso at Texas Western and at Purdue in the early 1960’s. I was able to act in Summer Stock with your mother in TEA AND SYMPATHY. They were the ones who encouraged me to follow them to Purdue.
    I loved your mom so much and dad so much that, had things been different, I would have followed them to UNC – but that didn’t happen. I send my fondes regards to you and Peter.

    • Great to hear from you, Bob. I told Dad that you had contacted me and he really wanted to get your phone number so that he could catch up with you. He said that you were one of his absolute favorite students and he would love to talk you. He is almost 90 but definitely has all his marbles and then some. Anyway, his number is 919-259-7154.

    • Melissa…………Even though not alert, your mom knew you were by her side and I am sure there was a faint smile on her face also…..I so enjoiyed being part of the Hardy family up on the hill at Cherokee. It was a great two summers in ’69 and ’69. God Bless you and say a big hello to your dad for me, Just say the “Baby Gypsy” says hello……….

      • You know, Dad would absolutely love to hear from you. He’s 90 this March but has every single one of his marbles. Really, he’s quite amazing and he just loves it when he gets calls from people out of the blue. His number is 919-259-7154,

  3. david patton says:

    Melissa…….I loved your mom and dad when we were working with “Unto These HIlls” in ’68 and ’69. You and Peter were great kids to be around and very talented. I was an Eagle dancer. All of us had great fun up on the “hill”. Great times and wonderful memories. I am sure your mom is in a better place….and while I believe in a devine being, I do not really cater to the “middle men” here on earth. Look to the skies and you will see her smiling from among the stars. Keep well and I send you my very best wishes…David Patton….

  4. Jackie Dagenais says:

    Your mother must have been an extraordinary person, as you are a perfect picture of what you painted of your mother. YOU ARE AN EXTRAORDINARY PERSON YOURSELF.

  5. Laura says:

    That was beautiful!

  6. Ken says:

    Martha Nell was indeed a most remarkable woman. I’m reminded of this on a day-to-day basis b/c I agree that her spirit is very much alive within Melissa. And for that, I have to say, I will always be truly grateful.

  7. Terryl says:

    Lissa, you have a way of writing that brings tears to my eyes. That was so beautiful, a great tribute to your mom. The way your words flow is something that always amazes me!
    Love your sis-in-law =o]

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