Mom passed away on October 8th, 2015. I had the task of giving her Eulogy at her funeral. I thought I would share it here on my blog since some have asked for copies. Before mom passed, I had the opportunity to sit down with her and record some of the important events of her life.
Pamela Susanne Isaacson was born December 8th 1955 in Kansas City Kansas. She was the youngest of four children with three older brothers. Her family lived in a house that her father built in Bethel city which was later annexed into the greater Kansas City area. It was nestled among rolling hills with lovely views, however they were close enough to the City stockyards they could be smelled in the air on occasion down by the Missouri river. At the time, her father worked for Colgate/Palmolive as a draftsman. As a young child she lived through many tornado warnings. In 1964, 9 year old Pam moved with her family to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania when her father got a new job. They only stayed two years.
Tragically, during their stay in Pittsburg, mom was kidnapped by an unknown assailant but released the following day. She stayed calm during the whole ordeal. The man was never caught; mom seemed to think he was a long haul truck driver. The family decided to move away after that, and during their trip back to Kansas city, Pam saw the man at a gas station and he walked up to her car. She quickly locked all the car doors and remained safe. But she was so scared she didn’t talk for the rest of the day.
Pam’s mother Betty was active in the Relief Society for the LDS church. She made wonderful divinity (chocolate covered Easter eggs) and once sold them to help with the church building fund. Pam’s father Melvin was a World War 2 veteran. He was strict and hard on his children at times, but he bought mom a horse when she was 14 years old. Mom loved horses, and her new palomino “Sunny” was stabled at a lovely pasture that overlooked the Missouri river. Mom kept the horse until it was sold for college money. Mom always missed him and dreamed of owning another horse someday.
As a child, mom broke her wrist from a bad fall. She was playing pretend on a mattress that was placed on top of clothes lines out in her yard. One of the wires broke and she fell, causing mom’s arm to compound fracture. (That’s a really bad break.) She said she ran into the house, shaking her broken wrist, and shouted to her mother, “Look at that; look at that!!!”
In August of 1964 Pam’s brother Preston left to serve a mission for the LDS church in Reno Nevada. This would be a life changing event for her whole family, but not in the way they expected. About a month later, a phone call home informed the Isaacson family that Preston and his companion had been in a terrible car accident. They were driving down the road when a drunk driver plowed into their vehicle. Preston’s neck was broken in three places and the family was told he would be paralyzed from the neck down for the rest of his life. My Mom remembers the look on her dad’s face when he heard the news. Her father told her mother and they both sat down on the couch and cried. Mom said she had to leave the room. Preston required many months and even years of recovery time. He spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair; but he did regain some use in his arms and hands, and was able to drive a modified car, get married, and lived a long and blessed life. I can only imagine that these experiences along with many others helped guide my mom later in life into a career of Nursing.
In 1969 mom began junior high school and a bit of a rebellious streak. She had a “best friend” whom she just thought the world of and shared her heart with. However, this friend was dishonest and liked to shoplift, encouraging mom to participate also. Well, eventually this girl was caught stealing but blamed the theft on mom; they had a confrontation with their mothers later and Pam found out this young lady had not in fact been her friend at all, but just used her as a scape goat and had been spreading untruthful gossip around school about mom. She felt so betrayed, and was extremely cautious ever after in extending her friendship to other ladies.
In 1973 she graduated from high school and immediately traveled to Provo, UT to attend BYU as a major in vocal performance. She always loved singing, had a lovely voice, and enjoyed playing the piano too. Her parents moved from Kansas to St. Paul Minnesota shortly after. One thanksgiving, she wanted to surprise her parents by coming home for the holiday. She travelled through three snow storms, an ice storm, and got stuck overnight in Rawlins, WY and had to stay with an LDS family to weather the storms. When she finally made it home, her parents were nowhere to be found! It turns out they had travelled out of town to spend thanksgiving with her oldest brother Art and his family. She had to have thanksgiving alone. And her parents weren’t too happy with her either.
While in college she struggled with bouts of homesickness, but tried to enjoy herself by learning how to canoe, ski, both cross country and downhill, and ice skate. She also traveled a lot when she had breaks from school. She was very pretty and enjoyed the dating scene, even being proposed to twice! And accepting twice! But neither of those men worked out. Well, as many often do in college, when you run out of money you go home to work and save up more so you can go back. In 1977 mom moved back to Minnesota to do just that and got a job working as a secretary for the LDS institute of religion at the University of Minnesota campus. This is where she met my dad. They had heard of each other prior, as my dad was working there as the janitor. Mom said, “You don’t want to go out with me because I’m too tall.” And dad said, “You don’t want to go out with me because I’m too short!” Mom said, “Do you want to go see Close Encounters of the Third Kind?” Dad said “sure”. They married a year later in 1978 on July 15th in the Manti Utah Temple.
The next few years were hectic for my parents, moving several times to different states looking for better jobs and trying to continue their education. I was born in Seattle, WA and two years later we witnessed the eruption of Mt. Saint Helens. Then they moved to Missouri, Minnesota, back to Washington State and then settled in central Utah. Mom and dad both attended Utah tech where mom majored in nursing. Both graduated in 1986. Mom started her career as a nurse working hospice and private duty home health care.
In 1987 Mom had a surprise pregnancy and my little brother Joseph Eric came into the world in November. My parents, finally having graduated and obtained decent work, wanted to settle down and find a nice house for their little family. No more moving around. They bought their first house in Payson Utah and just as they finished remodeling it, my Dad was laid off. They were pretty scared at first, but then the opportunity came for my dad to transfer down to Albuquerque New Mexico to continue to work for the same company (Signetics at the time). I remember mom flew down alone to Albuquerque to look for a new home for us. With help from the then Relief Society President of the Star Heights ward, picked a home at the western end of Northern Blvd. in the high desert. Boy did the rest of us have a surprise when we drove down and saw where our new home was! We didn’t stay there for long, but lived in a total of seven homes while in the Albuquerque area, including in the Academy Heights ward, Bernalillo Ward, and High Range ward boundaries. Always looking for the slightly better house in a slightly better neighborhood. Mom was always able to find work as a nurse, but for a time had to work nights, while I watched Joey during the day when we weren’t in school. In 1994 Mom had jaw surgery to fix her jaw that was slightly crooked from healing incorrectly. She had fallen in college while playing a silly game. A few nerves were severed that shouldn’t have been and the surgery left the side of her chin and lower lip permanently numb.
My parents moved in 1998 to a lovely home they had built just for them on Acapulco Ct. just off Northern and Highway 528 in Rio Rancho. May 5, 1999 mom was driving down the road not two blocks from home when someone ran a stop sign and t-boned her car. She sustained spinal cord injuries that left her with severe chronic pain for the rest of her life. She always walked with a cane after that. Despite her disability, she offered to take in her mother-in-law, Virginia Larsen, and care for her in her last days of life. My Grandma Larsen lived with my mom and dad for about a year before she passed, mom taking very good care of her.
In 2003 mom ended up taking in a pet rabbit someone was trying to get rid of. She always had such a love for animals, and soon found she was collecting additional rabbits that had been abandoned or no longer wanted by their owners. Mom became the “crazy rabbit rescue lady” (those are her words), and it opened up a whole new world for her; meeting other animal rescue people from all across the country. It was challenging at times but she continued to have great compassion for these animals and continued her nonprofit organization until her cancer diagnosis in September of 2013.
Mom and dad made their final move together in 2005 to the home on Rancher loop after my dad got laid off again from Phillips Semiconductors! He was able to find other employment but not at the same rate of pay and so they had to move. Mom continued working despite her disabilities, and tried several times to go back to school and obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing so she could be classified as an RN instead of an LPN. Each time things didn’t work out and she was very dissapointed that she didn’t achieve that accomplishment.
Mom was always a very selfless person giving freely of her time, money or whatever she could to help people. In her last few years she worked with children and young people who had severe medical disabilities. She always wanted to do her best to follow the example of service given to us by Jesus.
For as the apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Hebrews: “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees. Despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth…” Hebrews chapter 12.
On behalf of my mother I want to thank all of you for the friendship, kindness, love and charity that has been given to her and my family. She will be missed. We look forward to that glorious day when we can all be reunited as a family again.