Today my beautiful and brave momma went to heaven. She is now free from her ailments and can take long walks on heavens shores with her beloved doggy, Susie. She was loved by everyone who knew her and filled any room with light and joy.
It has been said about the challenges we have faced this year in our world, that we need to look to our better angels to get through. My mom was definitely my better angel. She loved the color blue, not because it was her favorite color, but because it made her feel at home. She was the kindest, bravest most deeply faith filled person I have ever known.
Marjorie Snell was the oldest daughter of a midwest Methodist pastor and his wife who encouraged in her a love for hymns and a close walk with Jesus. Margie spent her early years shepherding her two younger brothers, playing the piano and attending summer church camp each year at Eaton Rapids. She attended Taylor University in Indiana where she met a personable athlete on the football team named Dwight who had plans to become a pastor. The two fell in love and got married before they graduated from college. She would play the piano in the first churches they pastored and started a family, which is where I come into the picture 🙂
Life as the wife of a pastor in small Indiana towns kept Marjorie busy organizing women’s groups, helping with the children and teenagers and raising a family now to include a baby brother for me. My mom made me promise to read to him every day which … I dutifully did for at least a week (sorry bro). At the time, pastors in the Methodist churches moved every four years, so we lived in a quite a variety of places, but my mom always made the new situations feel like home and of course … always painted everything blue.
In the mid sixties, when my mom and dad ended their marriage, she bravely moved me and my brother across country to live with her parents in Marina, California. Even though this was a huge challenge for someone with two elementary school aged children, we never saw her worried or ever felt afraid of this big shift in our previously peaceful lives. One of the first things Margie did once we got settled, was to renew her teaching credential and that fall, began teaching English in Junior High and High schools. And … she began dating. At a Parents Without Partners dance, (1970 version of speed dating) my mom met a dashing entrepreneur named Johnny. As awkward as it felt at times to a 7th grader to have your mom dating, again she always made us feel grounded and confident in her care for us on this new adventure.
Her new boyfriend came with a very cool benefit - his kids from his previous marriage, who soon became our partners in adventure. My little brother and I now had two new brothers and a sister. As Johnny and Margie got engaged and then married, the seven of us went on camping trips, Disneyland excursions and laughed so much together. Once again, my mom’s joy spilled over to our now much larger family. Margie got her dream job teaching English at Monterey High school where she taught vibrantly for over twenty years. She also helped her new husband in fixing up and selling the many houses and properties that they purchased. They lived in each one as they were working on them, so really lived in over twenty five homes in Monterey and Carmel and for one year lived in Kailua, Hawaii.
Retiring from teaching did not mean Margie would slow down. She got her real estate license and continued to help Johnny in his endeavors. Though they both loved Monterey Penninsula, they opted for a warmer climate and moved to Paso Robles. My mom jumped right in to help at a small Methodist church and had more time for her growing group of grandchildren. Where I know her as the best mom, her grandchildren each were filled with her special love and care. As her children’s children grow, I definitely see her light in each of them. A wonderful legacy for a world that really needs more kindness.
After a long bout with illness, her husband Johnny passed away but, his encouragement to us to “take a chance” seemed to resonate with Margie as she once again started on a new adventure. She found strength in her faith and her community and seemed to settle into life on her own. But something wonderful happened … she met the new love of her life, the “best of all my husbands” she would say of Dennis. We had already planned an all family trip to Kauai for December and she asked me if it would be okay for her new boyfriend to come along. In the middle of planning the trip, Dennis proposed and so we added planning for a wedding in a little chapel in the middle of a sugar cane field outside of Poipu, Kauai with all her children and grandchildren present.
Margie settled down with Dennis in their new home in Camarillo, joined the local Methodist church as well as attending the local Catholic church with Dennis. Along with her precious dog, Susie, they took many neighborhood walks and sometimes ventured out to the beach. They traveled together to London, Paris, the Great Wall of China, took a Mediterranean cruise and many more fun trips. Her favorite days though, were curled up on her blue couch with her sweet dog and husband reading a book.
My amazing momma was a life long advocate for empowering women, feeding the hungry and encouraging a curiosity to learn in all who came across her path. Some may say that I am biased, but she was a truly remarkable woman who lived what she believed, raised a family drenched in love and in all ways was her own person. She was born on a Friday and went to heaven on a Tuesday where I am confident she is advising the angels to consider the color blue for the heavenly gates. Her legacy of a life grounded in faith and joy regardless of circumstance is a priceless gift she has given all who came into contact with her.
Momma, I will miss your sweet smile, your home made pizza crust, your wise counsel and your loving arms. I will forever try to live as fiercely kind and full of faith and love as you. And yeah … there’s something about the color blue, that will always remind me of you.