3/6/24

A Letter for My Mom

A letter to all of you, my mom's beloved readers and dear friends, from her daughter Abbey:


 I am heartbroken to write this.  Our beloved mom, Sarah, passed away peacefully and was received into Heaven on an uncharacteristically warm and sunny evening in March, five days before her 55th birthday.  She was a skilled baker, a talented writer, and a treasured art teacher, but more than anything, she was the best and most fiercely dedicated mom in the entire world.  She felt that being a mother was truly her vocation.  She was cherished by everyone around her: parents, siblings, cousins, friends, students, and especially by her six children.  

    First and foremost, I would like to thank you all sincerely for your endless support for my mom and our family all of these years.  When my mom wrote her first blog post in 2008, she could have never foreseen the millions of views and thousands and thousands of people she would touch.  She started a community larger than life.  She cherished “ordinary days” and preached that living simply and slowly and finding beauty in every small moment was the key to a meaningful life.  Needless to say, she was an inspiration to so many.  Your support for my mom - your readership, letters, emails, and comments - all kept her going and uplifted her in her times of hardship.  All of my siblings and I feel so incredibly blessed that we can turn to this space for the rest of our lives and read about my mom's thoughts, passions, favorite memories, advice, and guidance.  What a blessing it is that we will always have pieces of her to help us through every path of life - especially as we navigate having children of our own.   We will miss her every minute of every day for the rest of our lives.  I will always be so proud to be Sarah's daughter.  

    I cannot do my mom's writing abilities any justice - so please show me some grace - but wanted to share with you what my siblings and I wrote in memoriam of our sweet, incredible mother.  


Sarah was born and raised in a “little house in the big woods” at the bottom of a long, steep hill and often shared stories of her childhood with us kids.  She spoke of playing with baby dolls and picking buttercups down by the creek with her two sisters, doting on (and dressing up) her two little brothers, and sledding down the big hill during long Cleveland winters with her best friend, RenĂ©e. Her siblings and parents described her as sensitive and nurturing: a sweet, gentle soul who loved pretty dresses and her pet bunny, Myrtle.  She lived very simply with her siblings and was proud of her upbringing -  Her Mom, Patty, and her dad, Tom, worked hard to make ends meet. Our mom’s resilience, discipline, and work ethic all came from her parents.  She was raised Catholic and was dedicated to practicing and passing on her faith to all of her children. 


During her high school years, Sarah worked at Patterson's fruit farm and told us kids many stories of burning her hands on pies that came straight out of the oven.  She also worked at the Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop.  It is only fitting that our mom always made the biggest bowls of popcorn with lots of salt and butter.  Sarah nannied throughout her years at college, where she obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Communications and met our father and her former husband, Jeff, whom she was devoted to for almost 30 years of marriage.   They married in 1993 and welcomed their first child in 1994.  Sarah’s lifelong dream was to become a mother, and she adored her babies.  She had five more children over the course of the next eighteen years.  The same day that she dropped off her eldest son at college, she came home and gave birth to her youngest daughter that very evening.  


Our mom was extremely organized and ran her home like a well-oiled machine. She loved her calendar, was never a minute late to anything, and felt that making a list could solve any problem (especially if it had cute stickers on it).  Mom’s house was spotless.  She practiced “less is more” and didn’t care to have many material possessions.  She coined an organization method known as “40 bags in 40 days,” in which she would help her friends and family declutter and simplify their houses.  She wasn’t afraid of hard work - or delegating Saturday chores for us children. Whether it was mulching the yard, cleaning the windows, or vacuuming the whole house in one afternoon - she got joy from checking off her to-do list. 


Growing up, our mom had a home-cooked dinner on the table every night at 5:30 p.m. sharp, even during sports seasons, where she hardly missed a game for any of her four sons or two daughters.  Spaghetti with meat sauce and homemade garlic bread was her favorite meal ever - we ate this once a week as kids.  If you didn’t like what was for dinner, your choice was cereal or starvation.  She made many family favorites (feta dip, meatloaf, calzones, and apple pie to name a few) and transcribed her most beloved recipes into a cookbook for us kids.  She was an incredible baker and made the greatest chocolate chip cookies of all time. (Add extra butter, and take the cookies out a minute early!)  We had no fears of consuming raw cookie dough in our house.  


Our mom made every holiday special for us kids, and felt that traditions were very important.  She would sew all of our Halloween costumes, and set a beautiful brunch for Valentine’s Day.  She took us to pick strawberries every June, and took us to the apple orchard every August (Macintosh season) to get donuts before school started again.  Our mom also loved making New Year’s Resolutions.  All of us kids, including her many nieces and nephews, would line up with a note card in hand, ready for Mom to help us fill it out with colorful gel pens.  She always gave the best advice, and if you didn’t know what you could improve on, she could give you some very insightful feedback.


Mom loved being outside, especially on hot summer days. She would wait as long as possible, until all of her children complained, to turn the air conditioning on in the summer.  She also made the biggest ice cream cones you could imagine, and snuck them to the neighbor kids, even if their parents said no.  She infamously believed that a suntan would cure any ailment - her home was her favorite place in the world, but Seaside, Florida was a close second.  


 She enjoyed riding her bike around our little town, and sometimes would put our family dog, Sammy, in her bike basket.   She also took lots of walks.  She would walk so fast, and if you wanted to join her you had to promise her you could keep up.  She kept a small garden and made our backyard an oasis filled with ferns, hostas, and hydrangeas.  She also loved storms of all kinds: blizzards that turned into snow days, cozying up on rainy nights, and she especially loved tornado weather.  If we were all taking shelter in the basement, she was probably outside on the front porch enjoying the chaos. 


Sarah was very artistic.  She would paint murals on our bedroom walls when we were little, and loved working with many mediums. She was also a skilled photographer, and had an eye for interior design.  In her brief time teaching art at the local Catholic elementary school, she quickly became a favorite of her students, who would look forward to her attentiveness, care, and structure. She would come home and tell endless stories about her students (her “kids”); which ones were naughty, and which ones she would absolutely die for. Some students fit both categories. 


Sarah was a bookworm and loved historical non-fiction, especially stories of people overcoming hard times.  She always had a deep appreciation for old things in general.  An elderly couple’s love story, restoring antique furniture, and going to the estate sale of a house she always admired. 


Our mother was not only a beacon of guidance but also the voice of unparalleled wisdom, the one whose advice could help navigate any path of life. She loved a good conversation, and had a witty (sometimes even dark) sense of humor. She kept her circle close, including her dearest book club girls. She surrounded herself with only the most genuine people. She was the shoulder to lean on during moments of despair and often the first person you would tell of an accomplishment because of the praise she'd offer.  She made everyone who knew her feel seen.  

We will always feel as though our time with our sweet mom was cut short. As she liked to say, “fair is a place where pigs win ribbons.” She never wasted time feeling sorry for herself through tragedy or through her battle with cancer, and made the most of every day. 

Our mom always said, “Heaven is a good book on the beach.” We know you are enjoying the sunshine, Mom, and we can’t wait to see you again.



47 comments:

  1. I am so so sorry for your loss. I didn't know your mom personally, but read her blog for many years, admiring all the wonderful things you wrote about her through her blog posts. Every spring I think about doing 40 bags, although I'm never quite as successful as Sarah was in cleaning out. I also use many of her recipes that she shared on the internet. Again, I am so very sorry. I will pray for your family when I remember Sarah and all she taught those of us who loved to read her blog. Blessings.

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  2. Sarah has been on my mind and heart so much in the last week or so, and I am so sad to hear this news. Sarah and I both started blogging at the same time, when Patrick was a baby, and became penpals with comments and emails. The first time she became sick, I sent her a little gift basket in the mail with some comfort items. The second time, we exchanged emails and she was so determined to fight it again for Abbey's wedding and the birth of her first grandchild. I have been so inspired over the years by her wisdom and grace, and like you said, we are all so lucky to have this recording of her thoughts and memories. I will continue to hold Sarah and all of you kids in my prayers. Much love from Massachusetts!

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  3. Abbey, thank you and your brothers and sister for thinking of us, your mom's readers, at this most sorrowful time in your lives. Please accept my deepest sympathy on the loss of your beautiful, heroic, caring, and talented mother. This space here, her lovely blog, was one of the first I ever read, and one that inspired me to begin my own. I was drawn here, as were so many others, by your mom's genuine love of her vocation as a mother and homemaker. I never met her in person, but was blessed enough to communicate by email with her a few times. I have prayed for her, and will continue to pray for her greatest joy, you, her children, as you carry her with you in your hearts. May her soul rest in peace.

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  4. Abbey, my heart goes out to you, all your siblings, and Sarah's wider family and friends as you share with us this news. Thank you for telling us, as I know there are many readers of many years, decades even, who loved Sarah even though we knew each other only through blog or email, and were hoping this would not be the news we would hear.
    If we could tell how much of a gem Sarah was even though we had never met her in person, how much more can we imagine you were blessed to know her as your Mom, and of course how great a loss you all have without her here. I know she is the strength behind you every day for the rest of your lives.
    Your Mom took time to encourage me by email and pass on wisdom when I was a young Mom over a decade ago, beginning my family with one son. I too had hyperemesis gradivarum and know how much she endured to go through her pregnancies- for each of you! I now have 5 kids and am so grateful for her sharing her life and convictions, as they truly did serve as a beacon to me- that I could pursue the good, traditional and 'ordinary' life, without shame: though truly it is not ordinary at all- to be loved by my children, to know them, has been the greatest gift, and I know she would say that was the treasure of her earthly life too.
    Our hearts are all with you.

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  5. Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord,
    and let Your perpetual light shine upon her.
    May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed
    rest in peace.

    Amen.

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  6. Thank you so much for letting us know. I am a better mother because of your mom. Praying for you and your siblings as you deal with this grief.

    I can't wait to meet your mother in Heaven.

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  7. This beautiful tribute brought tears to my eyes. I never spoke with Sarah, but have been a devoted blog reader for many years. I struggled with miscarriages several times, and her words and shared experiences helped me feel less alone and more hopeful. I went on to have three more children after this heartbreaking time in my life, and seeing the joy that Sarah took in being a mother has truly been an inspiration to me. My heart and prayers go out to all of you, and please do share if there's a go fund me or any other way to offer love and support. I am deeply sorry for your profound loss.

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  8. I'm so sorry. I've read your mom's blog for years. I always appreciated her confidence in the importance of mothering and creating a calm, predictable space for children. Prayers to you all as you figure out life without her.

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  9. Oh Abbey--I am so heartbroken for you and your siblings, and also so touched by your descriptions of your incredible mother. She shared so much with so many and taught SO many of us how to cherish our role as mothers. I found her blog when my children were very young (probably right after she began writing!) and it was such an incredible guide to me as they and I grew older. I am so grateful for her light--it was obvious how deeply and fiercely she loved her children. May her memory be for a blessing to you all.

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  10. I am so very, very sad to read this, Abbey. I feel so fortunate to have found your mom's blog many years ago; and, though I'm 71 years old and well beyond my child-rearing years, I learned so much from her. She was delightful in every way! She raised a beautiful family and the tributes from you and your siblings are beautifully written; I've read them more than once. My very deepest condolences to all of you who loved her so much. This is a great loss and she will be very, very missed.

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  11. I am so sorry for your loss. I have followed your mom's blog from almost the beginning and always looked forward to popping onto the blog and seeing how she and your family were doing. She always gave wonderful advice and I admired her practical and calm approach to parenting and home-keeping. I also loved many of her recipes...the feta dip is now a family favorite! For some reason she was on my mind today and I am saddened to read this. You have written a lovey tribute to her. She was truly an amazing lady! You and your family have my sincere condolences.

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  12. This was a beautiful tribute. I loved learning from your mom since I first discovered her blog about 12 years ago. She was amazing, and this brought me to tears. Her parenting advice changed my life. Hugs and prayers to you as you mourn her loss.

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  13. Oh Abbey, I'm crushed to read this! I was planning to text your mom today to see how she was doing as I hadn't heard from her in about a month. She was such a good friend and mentor to me over the years, and will be deeply missed by so many.

    Thank you for this wonderful tribute to your amazing mother, and blessings to your family as you celebrate a new baby, your upcoming wedding, and many other milestones without your strong and faithful matriarch.

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  14. I am so very sorry for your loss. I have been reading your mom's blog for many years. She was such an inspiration. When I started reading her blog I had one little baby boy. She inspired me to make my dream of staying home a reality and I went on to have four more boys. Every blog post was like a little treasure. Her words felt like she was a close friend giving advice. She was simply amazing. Your tribute was beautiful and I will continue to pray for your family as you mourn this terrible loss.

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  15. I am weeping for a woman I’ve never met, but who so tangibly changed my life. I found Sarah's blog early in her writing. I was a mom of four and frankly, felt drowning most of the time. There was hope, simplicity, calm, and most of all, refuge in her posts. There are innumerable ways Sarah affected my life, then and now, but she always felt like a friend, even if she didn’t know it. Practices I picked up from her are woven through the fabric of my life and my now adult children’s lives. Gosh, I still make my apple pies using a stained printed blog post recipe I printed. It's like six pages because I printed it with all the pictures from the post as she illustrated each step. I appreciated your mother's life updates, even after her blog was less regular and Instagram wasn’t her favorite. Your tribute is lovely and perfect; you and your siblings honored her so well. Sending my deepest condolences over the loss of such a great woman. I know she will never be forgotten by any of you, but she won’t be forgotten by me either. Rest well, beautiful Sarah.

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  16. There are no words to express my sadness for your family at the loss of your sweet mother. She touched so many around the world with her words and her wisdom and her example of devotion to her family. Thank you for thinking of her readers around the world at this most difficult of times.

    Prayers for your family from Arizona. Rest well, sweet friend.

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  17. I am so very sorry for your loss. your mom was a beautiful person inside and out. What a wonderful legacy she has left for you kids. I hope you all find comfort in knowing how much she loved you and in the love you all have as siblings. My college aged kids lost their dad last year to cancer so if any of you need someone to talk to, please don't hesitate to reach out.

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  18. Abbey, your mom is a beautiful soul and her words have impacted my life and motherhood as they have for so many others. She faced everything with intention and made it seem simple to live a life centered on the most important things. She will be greatly missed!

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  19. I'm so sorry to hear about your mom and loved this beautiful tribute. Sarah was such an inspiration even to those of us who only knew her here. Thank you for the update as bittersweet as it may be.

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  20. I am so sad to learn this news. I started following your mother's blog about 14 years ago when my own little ones were babies and I gained so much from her wisdom and the joy she found in motherhood. I know you will all deeply miss her and I pray you will feel her close by.

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  21. I am so sorry. I have cried and prayed on and off all day long, for each of you (Sarah's children). I found your mother’s blog some years ago when I was looking for inspiration in my own mothering/homemaking journey. SO many times her voice of simple, practical counsel, especially in contrast to the many other strident, often false voices of our day was VERY much appreciated. Even though I never met her personally I will miss her terribly.

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  22. I am so sorry for the loss of your mom I've been following your mom since she started her blog in 2008, after having my third daughter. Her writing and her ability to convey thoughts and ideas in a way that just resonated with me, was so meaningful over the years I teared up seeing this, because I was so hoping she would pull through this cancer again, and I know she wanted to be here with all of you. I know you will never stop missing your mom, however, I hope you find comfort in all of your memories and all the love she had for all of you Your tribute to her was beautiful I want to thank you all for writing here and updating all of us readers who treasured your moms words and kindness. I'm sure it wasn't easy, I was so sad to see this and if I could say anything to your mom I would say, Thank you Sarah for all of your kind words of encouragement over the years, for your honesty, for your ideas, and for giving me time to reflect on what is really important in this life Its meant a lot to me over the years I wish I could've met you in person, but in a way your words touched me and helped more than you probably realized. I hope you are at peace, and I'm sure you're smiling down on all your beautiful children and the kind words they wrote in your honor.

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  23. I am so very sorry for your tremendous, deep loss. I've been reading your mom's blog for years, though more as a lurker than commenter. I was always moved by the depth of her love and dedication to her children. I found her love of simplicity and the ability to see what's important to children to be quite inspirational.
    I would love it if you chose to share how you were doing over time, but understand if that's not something you wish to do. Please know many of us are thinking of you with care and concern. My heart goes out to all of you.

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  24. Dear Abbey (and to your siblings), I am so saddened to read this news all the way from Johannesburg, South Africa. I've read your mom's blog for many years, as long as I've been a mother (14.5 years!) and have always LOVED her way of looking at the world and creating a simple home full of order and love. We have all followed along with all of you growing up and it has been a delight to share common experiences across the many, many miles! Much, much love to all of you! Your mom was always SO proud of each and every one of you. How's Janey coping? I hope and pray that the Holy Spirit is comforting all of you! xxx

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  25. This is so sad and I'm sending love for you all. We have seen snippets of you growing up on here over the years and my heart goes out to you. I found Sarah's blog at a time of great overwhelm, exhaustion and desperation with young children - it was an oasis of calm, strength, beauty and wisdom. I clung to it like a life raft. I am so very grateful that she took the time to send encouragement out into the world. Like a message in a bottle, her words landed and made our lives and mothering better. This blog is a global treasure. What a truly amazing woman. Her words have directly benefited me and I am thankful. I'm sure her children are as wonderful as she was and I wish you all well through this difficult time and into the future. Sending love xxxxxx

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  26. Dear children of Sarah, I am so saddened to read this post. The world has lost a great treasure. I loved this space she had here and learned so much over the years. I will forever keep all of you in my prayers. I am so very sorry for your great loss.

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  27. I am so saddened to see this update. Like so many others, I never met Sarah but instantly felt a connection when I stumbled upon her blog so many years ago. I will truly miss her presence and am so thankful for the ways she touched my life. I will continue to honor her by savoring my ordinary days just a little bit more!

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  28. She was a treasure and I felt a connection to her instantly, a gifted writer and touched so many with her words. Prayers for your entire family, you have her gift, this is a beautifully written letter, and captures her so well. She will be so missed by her readers.

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  29. Your mom was the definition of strength. I'm so sorry for your loss

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  30. So very sorry to read this. I was just thinking about her and thought I’d check in. I’ve been reading her blog for years and she has inspired me over the years. I will miss reading her blog very much. God bless her family!

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  31. I am so very sorry for your loss, and so grateful that you and your siblings wrote this beautiful tribute. I have six children as well, and I have been inspired by your mom's wonderful perspective on motherhood.

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  32. My heart sank when I saw this. I'm so sorry for you kids. I'm a long time reader and admired your mom's outlook so much. I recently lost my own mother to cancer (although I'm close to your mother's age), and it has been very difficult. Prayers and thoughts going out for you!!

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  33. What a legacy Sarah left this world through her beautifully lived life and the parts of it she shared in this space. Like so many, I've been reading her wise words since I was a new mom and have derived a deeper appreciation for and joy in my role as a mother and homemaker because of her noble example. My heart is full tonight. I'm so grateful to have been touched by Sarah's influence. Your family is in my prayers as you carry on while she watches over you from above.

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  34. I was so sad to learn of Sarah's passing. Like so many others, I have read her blog for years and learned so much from her including to really appreciate the "ordinary days", a delicious breadstick recipe, and, in the last words she wrote on here, to remember "Light always wins". She leaves a beautiful legacy in the lives of each of her children. Prayers of peace and comfort for each one of you.

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  35. You wrote a beautiful post for your mom. Thank you for taking the time to tell us the news in the midst of your grief. Lots of love to your whole family.

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  36. I just want to say that your mom taught me how to be a mother. Her blog was lovely, calm, and full of all the wisdom I have needed for more than a decade raising my 3 kids. I will truly miss her words and I'm so sorry for all the grief that your family has gone through and is going through now.
    And Abbey, you are a beautiful writer, you must take after your sweet mama in that way. Thank you for sharing her with us all these years. The world has been a much brighter place because she was here for all of us.

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  37. I am so very sad to read this. What a beuatiful tribute, Abbey. Your mother inspired me in so many ways. I participated in 40 bags, 40 days many times. I've made her recipes. But mostly, your mother gave me the courage and peace to embrace a simple, peaceful home and motherhood. Even as my children have flown the nest, I've come back to reread her words of wisdom. Prayers for your family. Surely, your mother is among a communcion of saints.

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  38. Devasted to read this. Prayers for her beautiful family.

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  39. Oh Abbey, my heart is so heavy with sadness. I have been checking back here regularly hoping to find news that things were going better. I've been a devoted reader of your mom's blog since about 2009 shortly after she started it. I too had children and was a stay at home mom and loved so many of the things your mom loved that I felt she was a kindred spirit. Her insights on parenting, homemaking, and thoughts on life in general were inspiring to me. I wished so often that we lived in the same town so we could be real life friends. Her writing was beautiful and touching. One post in particular was entitled, "How I became undone at an estate sale" and I actually printed it out and still have it in a binder of favorite essays because it was just so poignant and touched my heart. I am going to miss hearing about her "ordinary days" and family updates. I feel like I know all of you kids and have seen you grow up and become such amazing people. I am happy to know you plan on keeping this special place. I will come back again and again to read her thoughts and insights. Maybe you could even post once in a while if you feel like it? I would love to continue to see the highlights of your family as the years move on. You are all in my heart and my thoughts, Abbey. Thank you for writing and sharing this beautiful tribute to an extraordinary mom and human being...our friend Sarah.

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  40. I am so very sorry for your family's loss. She was such a special lady here in Blogville. She will be missed. Her lessons of simplicity always resonated with me and her faith was always a bright light here as well. I pray comfort for y'all as you navigate this time. Thank you for letting us know. The tribute was beautiful.

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  41. Your mom has been a guide for me in my mothering. Her toy and game suggestions helped me make our Christmas mornings magical and the days after fun. Her recipes are some of my "go to" things to make. She validated the beauty of mothering and I am so grateful for her influence on the way I loved being a mother.

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  43. Abbey, thank you so much for taking the time to post. I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your mom. I've been wondering how she was doing. The world has lost a bright light! I've been reading her blog for many years and I always felt inspired and uplifted by her. She helped me as a young mom in so many ways. Even though she had so much on her plate, I remember that she took the time to answer to an email I sent when we were re-doing our kitchen and I wanted some of her advice. We make her shortbread Christmas cookies nearly every year and her pulled pork recipe is one of our favorites. You and your siblings have been on my mind. I am sending love and prayers to you! Best wishes for your upcoming wedding!

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  44. Beautiful words. My deepest condolences to your family on your loss. A long-time reader since nearly the beginning, I learned how to be a better parent because of your mother, truly. I felt a kindred spirit in clearing stuff out of the house in trash bags with her. Her readers never "knew" her as you did, of course, but I believe we felt she was always championing us as mothers and stewards of the home. Take gentle care.

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  45. I'll never forget learning about life on Clover Lane. We are all better people thanks to your mom. God bless you all.

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  46. I cannot express enough how sorry I am for your loss. Your mum's blog was a bright spot in my life. I learned so much from her about kindness, how to slow down, how to appreciate the small things, how to value what I have and how to love myself so I can love my children. It's been a pleasure watching you all grow up. My thoughts and prayers are with you all as you continue without her. May she rest in peace, and rise in glory and may light perpetual shine upon her. <3

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  47. Abbey, my deepest condolences to you and your brothers and sister. Your mother will live on in the wisdom that she shared with everyone who knew her, especially those of us who read her blog. You have honored her so beautifully with your words. Yes, motherhood and homemaking were her vocation. My only regret is that I didn't have her blog as guidance when I was raising my own children. We shared so many of the same beliefs and principals. But, my grandchildren and my children's families benefitted from much of her wisdom. I loved sharing her ideas with my daughter-in-law. Sending prayers and love to you and your family.

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