Noni and her late mother, Ruby
Noni is the daughter of Idaho onion farmers. Noni is the mother of nine. Noni is Karen Hart who married Rich Winkel. Noni is the matron of the Sacramento LDS Temple. Noni is a beauty. Noni is my mother.
In grade school, I first read "Strega Nona," by Tomi Di Paola. From that, "Nona" morphed into "Noni" and that is what I (and all of her posterity) have called my
mother ever since.
Noni and Baby Mindy. Noni, you look so young, but so tired!
For my whole life I have been a part of the rat race to try and get a piece of Noni. It is one thing to be one of nine children who all need their mother, but everyone who knows her wants a piece of Noni. As a young teenager, my parents were mission presidents in Spain for the LDS church. Hundreds of missionaries, church members, neighbors, parents of school friends and even our nannies wanted to be mothered and befriended by Noni. WHY?
Because Noni's presence makes you feel love like you've never felt before. She is beautiful and I remember how she was often mistaken for one of my dad's daughters. Noni is all grace and loveliness personified. She wants nothing more than for you to know and feel of your worth in her presence.
My favorite memory with Noni is of a day when she set aside time just for me. Together we drove through the picturesque countryside of Spain to the medieval pueblo of Siguenza. We hunted for treasures in her favorite antique shop, visited the castle and had lunch in a village restaurant. On the drive home, Noni stopped on the side of the road to clip some rose hips she spotted from a mile away (she loves rose hips and keeps them in old Mason jars for decoration). I watched her graceful figure bend over the rose bushes as she gently spoke wisdom about the purpose of life and why things are the way they are. In that moment, I felt something magical I have not forgotten.
It can hurt to love someone so much and always have them taken from you. Aside from the whole world wanting Noni, she has also moved around the globe from Mexico to New Zealand serving humanity. Long distance relationships of any kind are hard. There have been times where I have thrown my hands in the air and shouted, "I give up!" I retreat and choose denial over the labor it is to experience my feelings. Then Noni feels sad that there is only one of her, so far away, and a host of children and grand children that want to divide her into shares. Still, Noni gives all that she has to her relationships and it falls to me to let that be enough.
It is more than enough. I can only hope to measure up to the divine woman that is my Noni.
Mom, why on earth are you wearing an area rug?