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  • Writer's pictureMakenzie Finks

To a Very Special M.O.M.

Yesterday was a very special woman's birthday. Someone who I hold near and dear to my heart, who had a big influence on a part of who I am today, someone that made millions feel loved, welcomed, and cared for. Her name is Elizabeth Atwood, or Liz for most people, but to me, she was my M.O.M. (My Other Mother) . Liz even called me M.O.D. or (My Other Daughter) and nothing made me feel more accepted than when she did. 

You see her daughter, Tori, has been my best friend since High School. She was my go to person, the one that cheered me up when I was sad, told me I was always good enough, and when she left for college promised we would always be friends no matter what. And she held true to that promise and I love her forever for that. What's even more exciting is she just recently asked me to be her Maid of Honor in her wedding and seriously there will be more posts for that to come because (STILL CRYING FROM EXCITEMENT). 

I used to thank Liz all of the time for raising such an amazing friend and for being such an awesome mother. When Liz passed away earlier this year, I didn't know what to say or do. She was my second mother. She held my hand while I cried, she listened to my high school struggles, she bought us endless pizza and Pepsi, and she even took us prom dress shopping to a far away store that we just HAD to go to. She was a part of so many important moments of my life and knowing that she was no longer there, not only as my other mother, but not there for Tori, my best friend, it just didn't feel real. Cancer is a shitty thing and I have nothing that can make it sound better but what I do have are memories and that is what I wanted to share in honor of my beautiful other mother's birthday. 

I am laughing out loud just thinking about some of them. I can even hear her laughing and say "Kenzie, you crack me up." I was always such a goofball around Liz because her family brought the best out of me. She accepted me for the crazy, wild, silly girl that I was and I will always and forever be thankful for that. Are you ready to hear some of my favorite memories of Liz, because they all basically end up as a funny story and I don't think she would want it any other way. Liz had the most beautiful laugh and smile. I wish you all could see it but I will try to convey it in words and maybe you'll get a glimpse of her.

1. Thanksgiving with the family

I know it has been said a thousand times by most people that knew Liz, but it's true, so if you knew Liz you KNEW she loved all holidays. Especially Christmas. I was always in love with her decorations and I will strive to be just like her when it comes to decorating. She planned and hosted all of the family gatherings and she even made them super fun and exciting. They weren't your average family party. They had games, karaoke, and even a talent show with a trophy and all (2 year champs with Tori I think haha I don't know I can't remember but I remember it being a big deal (; ) Being the amazing second family that they were I was always invited to all of their family parties and holiday's but the first one was one for the books. I used to be obsessed with British accents and I would talk in them all of the time. I remember Tori and I were laying in Liz's bed one morning and I was making her laugh per usual and side note she was also obsessed with Harry Potter so she would go on and on about how good she thought it was. Well her and Tori got this crazy idea that I should trick her family that I was a British exchange student and they invited me over for Thanksgiving dinner. We planned it all out about where in Britain I was from and how long I was there for. We thought it was great and the best part they believed it!!! Everyone wanted me to talk for hours with the accent asking questions about what it looked like over there. It was hilarious but ultimately someone figured out who I was so it was ruined but it was a good joke while it lasted. (Another important laughter from this Thanksgiving: while stuffing the turkey we danced around with it on our hand and I made up a song about it and we named it Bill. THE TURK NAMED BILL).

2. Bubble Bath in her Bathroom

This one is small but so funny to me. So Liz was a clean freak. She had a place for everything and she even vacuumed in lines which was one of my favorite things about her and I tried doing that in my room at home but it was never as good as Liz's. Anyway, they had a huge soaker tub in Liz and Brian's bathroom and Tori and I decided we wanted to soak in it with bubbles. We got a little to crazy on the bubbles and they were everywhere. When I say everywhere I mean you couldn't see us sitting in the tub, you could't see the floor, it was even on the counter. We were a little scared for what Liz was going to say but she wasn't mad at all we just laughed and laughed at all of the bubbles. She didn't care when it came to our happiness. She loved that we were having a good time. She was such a kind person and it was very fun night. 

3. Universal Studios

The family tells this story all of the time but that's because it's just so dang funny! We were standing in line for a ride at Universal Studios and sometimes I have a short attention span so I have to do some weird things to keep me occupied. Well in this rather long line, I decided it would be a good idea to cluck like a chicken. Yes, you heard me right, I clucked in a little boy's ear and when he turned around and his parents turned around it was just the funniest thing I have ever witnessed. Liz thought so too. I think she might have been a little embarrassed at the time hahahaha. But afterwards she would try and imitate me and she just never got over the fact that I quite literally clucked in a boy's ear. 

4. Dances

Another memory that is of her beautiful laughter is yet another time of me making a fool of myself. Tori and I liked to learn dances. We would memorize them for hours and then perform them for Liz. Now, for someone who was in musicals and took dance lessons for years you would think I would have rhythm but that is just not the case. I suck. Ask Tori, she can attest to that. I tried and tried to be as good as Tori but it just never happened. Well, one time it was a mix up of dances and Liz was recording us. One of the songs was Cotton Eye'd Joe and it is the line dancing part that goes with it. I couldn't, I repeat COULD NOT do it. My foot looked broken and I would swing my leg at the entirely wrong part every time. I never lived it down. I am seriously laughing out loud right now. Tori and Liz would rewind that tape over and over and over again and we would just laugh forever at how awkward I looked. Liz would just be saying "Kenz" holding back laughter. I loved how she said my name. She just understood me. It was endearing and caring. 

I could go on and on with awesome memories but my favorites are the ones where I could make her laugh. It was my way of giving her something when she had given me so much. Liz is one of the best people I have ever known. She blessed the lives of everyone she met. I hope she had the best birthday up in heaven and felt all of the love from her loved ones down below. I know that even though Liz is no longer here to send me birthday cards, or laugh at my silliness, or call me her other daughter she is still doing those things in heaven. I can feel her hugs sometimes and her laughter is always with me. 

My other mother, thank you. Thank you for showing me grace, strength, and beauty. Thank you for giving me a second family. I love Brian, and Grandma Sandy, and little B, and Aunt Sherri, and Uncle Shayne and all the grand babies and Jase and Heidi and especially TORI!!!! Your family is better because of you. I am better because of you. The world is better because of you and now heaven will be better because of you. 

Happy Belated Birthday my other mother. 


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