The above photograph was taken by John Kelly.
My mother. My beautiful, complicated, brilliant, sensitive, compassionate, loving mother.
She was the middle daughter of Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke. Years ago the Aspen Times wrote a profile about my mother, entitled, Their Generation: Paula Zurcher had front row seat to Aspen’s transformation.
But none of these various articles capture the impact my mother had on those she loved. My mother was a force. She was one of those women who was a beautiful blend of fierce intelligence, wit and passion.
My favorite story regarding my mother was when I was pregnant with my first child. I reached out to her asking for advice. She wrote back saying that she had given this a great deal of thought and then wrote, and I’m paraphrasing now, that the best any of us can do as parents is to love our children, tell them, yes, but more importantly show them, daily how much we love them and one day they will forgive us. Fierce, brilliant, funny, passionate, check, check, check and check. And wise. She was so very wise.
During covid my mother sent videos, articles, stories and photographs, often silly, usually funny, always interesting to help cheer her recipients of whom I was one. I often shared the things she sent me on this blog, using the title, Sh*t My Mother Sends Me. Often those posts were among the most popular and that made her, and me, happy.
In July of this year I went with my son to visit her. She was frail, but her fierceness was undiminished. When I arrived, having lost the ability to speak, she typed, “It’s been too long.” I promised her I would not allow that much time to pass again, unaware that it would be the last time I saw her. I told her about my upcoming trip to Africa that my husband and I were about to embark on mid-August to celebrate my 61st birthday. Africa held a special place for both my parents and the art and stories of their travels surrounded us when I was a child.
Richard and I left for Africa on August 13th. Shortly after, I was told she was failing. Complications related to aging and a life well lived, it became increasingly clear that she would not live much longer. I took to calling in the evening and my sister would hold the phone to her ear so that I could tell her of our African adventures. She died August 27th at 5:30am surrounded by love and her children at home, just as she wanted.
Mom, you showed me how to love and live life with courage, humor and compassion. You led by example and did exactly as you instructed me to do, so many years ago, when I sought your parenting advice. I grew up knowing I was loved. You showed and told me how much you loved me and as a result, no matter what challenges I have faced, every day was a little easier because of you.
What a treasure trove of memories you have of your mom! May those memories make your trip in Africa even more special. So so sorry for this momentous news.
Thank you Liz ❤️
Always know your mother helped your readers through the pandemic, as you did with your blog. So sorry for your loss. What an amazing woman.
Thank you Robin
I’m so sorry. She was a special person I can tell.
Yes she was. Thank you Sandy.
Wow what a legacy! There are those who live and then those who LIVE,
Ha! Thank you Carol. ❤️
Mothers pass on but never leave us. There is never a right time to go and they often decide, themselves, when that time is. You will never stop talking to her. take care
Thank you Paige. “Talking” to her all the time. ❤️
What a wonderful woman! I’m so sorry you lost her.
Thank you so much. Me too. I’m shattered. Just shattered.
Well Ariane I’m weeping ,what an amazing lady, and how she will be missed, I feel you have her intelligence ,kindness and the ability to make people feel they are worthy..
The hole left after a mother passes will be with you fir a long time, I know too well.xxx
I am so fortunate to have such a loving community of women who “know”, really know what it’s like from lived experience and it does help me knowing that there are others, like yourself, who truly know. Thank you. And thank you for being here with me as I go through this. ❤️
I will miss “Shit My Mother Sends Me”. So sorry for your loss.
Thank you Karen. I will miss that too ❤️
This is beautiful Ariane…I am so sorry for your loss.
Thank you Ellen. ❤️
So beautiful Ariane and to get to know you and your mother a bit better. Your mother’s life does sound like a life well lived and from what I know about you, your life is as well. My thoughts are with you and your family. Sandy
Thank you so much Sandy. That’s so nice of you. ❤️
So sorry for your loss, Ariane. Your Mother was beautiful, as are you & there is quite a resemblance. Happy that you got to visit her recently. All those memories, laughter, tears, are yours forever. And the love of art, adventure, talent to stitch , design-gifts to you.
I had been thinking about you because of New York City rains, flooding. Hope all is ok there. I am in Houston area & we just missed the Hurricane, this time.
Take care of yourself. I will be looking for your Blog & videos It will get better. Hugs, Mary Benham (left-handed).
Thank you so much Mary. I appreciate it. All is well here in our little corner of NYC. My husband and I managed to sleep through the worst of it! ❤️
What a beautiful tribute to your mum, Ariana. A life so well lived and so well loved by her family. Sending you heartfelt condolences from Canada.
Thank you so much Taylor. ❤️
What a powerful, beautiful, loving remembrance of the exceptional person your mother was. She certainly lives on in you,Ariane, Sending hugs and thinking of you.
Thank you so much Roberta. That’s so nice of you to say. As you know, one can never be really prepared to lose someone you love. Sending you hugs.
She is the voice inside your head, always with you. My heart goes out to you and your loved ones during this painful time…
Thank you so much Jeanne. ❤️
Gorgeous tribute, amiga. That shot of her leaning against the stump – the look on her face is so many things at once: fierce, intelligent, totally owning her power. I think I miss her without the good fortune of ever having met her Bon Voyage Paula – to the light!
Thx so much. She was a force! ❤️
A beautiful tribute to your beautiful mother. My heart is full of the love you shared. Xxx.
Thank you Bobbie. I love you.
Ariane, I’m so sorry to hear of your Mom’s passing. Take comfort in your wonderful memories. I’ll be thinking of you and praying for you and your family.
Marilyn from Texas
Thank you Marilyn. I appreciate it. ❤️
Ariane, I loved reading this post and seeing all the photos. Your mother was indeed a beautiful, vibrant, and strong woman and your bond so full of life and energy! I love that you blogged about what she shared. I’m so happy you got to see her in July and to share your Africa trip with her too via Toni; that must have been such a great distraction for her when not feeling well. I communicated with Andy and Chris and I send my deepest condolences to you and to Toni as well. Aunt Paula, you had a wonderful life, wonderful children, and I’m glad you joined us on the planet for so long! Hugs from afar, Ariane. As you wade through the grief, always remember that we grieve because we loved. <3
Thank you Louise. I really appreciate your kind and thoughtful words. ❤️
I know you wrote this in complete sentences, but all the words just spelled love.
Thank you Pat. I did and do love her so. ❤️❤️
So glad I found this Ariane.
Aw… I’m so glad to see you here Stuart. Sending love.