My Mom

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

This verse was mom’s favorite, and we have repeated it over and over and over again during the last month.

Last Friday, my mom died. It was a peaceful home-going without any pain.

Mom’s heart has been getting weaker over the last few months, and three weeks ago we brought hospice care into her home. That care was so helpful and loving, and my sisters Julie and Lori and I spent the last 10 days of her life with her. We laughed, cried, sang hymns, read Bible verses, stroked her face, and told her a gazillion times how much we loved her.

Although we had plenty of notice that she’d soon be leaving us, these first few hours and days are still filled with sadness and emptiness – and celebration.

Mom was an amazing woman who loved God faithfully and loved her family deeply.

In her honor, I’m sharing these words my sisters and I wrote about our mom, Joyce Nornes …

Our mom, Joyce (Tharaldson) Nornes, died peacefully on January 31, when her heart just got too tired to keep her body going. The handwritten sign behind her corner chair said it beautifully: “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 13:26). She was 92 years old.

Mom grew up on a farm in Starbuck, Minnesota. She graduated from Glenwood Teachers Training and later received her teaching degree from Moorhead State University. Whether it was in a one-room schoolhouse in the country or in a small-town elementary classroom, she deeply loved teaching. For 35+ years she passionately planned activities and studies and used creative ways to make learning interesting and fun for her students.

In 1948, Joyce met the man she would love forever, George Nornes. After they married, they moved to Climax, MN and lived there for 50+ years. Her favorite moments were simply “being with George.” After dad died, she moved to St. Paul to be closer to all of us.

Faith in God was mom’s foundation and sustainer. She wanted everyone to know how much God loved them and that prayer made a difference. She loved her family deeply. She had a playful sense of humor, loved being at home, and was happiest when she was with “her three girls” or her grandchildren. (And boy, did she ever love her grandchildren and great grandchildren.) Deer hunting meant she could spend time with dad; her favorite hunting claim to fame was that she shot three deer with two slugs. She was as comfortable working on a combine as she was in the kitchen canning cherries or making lefse.

Mom was preceded in death by our dad George Nornes and four children – Baby Boy Kevin, Lynnette (2 years), and twins David (5 years) and Danny (9 months); parents Olaf and Gilma Tharaldson; and sisters Sylvia Vindedahl and Gaye Klyve, and brothers Gerhard, Odean, and Dennis Tharaldson.

We three daughters and our families are left with her fingerprints all over our lives, and we will do our best to continue her legacy of faith and family: Gaye and Steve Lindfors; Julie Benedict and sons –  Scott, Danny and Hannah, and David and Rachel (Sophia and Pierce); and Lori and Michael Charron and daughters Kelsey and Julia.

Whether life brought her deep sorrow or great joy (much more joy!), she would frequently quote her favorite Bible verse: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Provers 3:5-6). She always knew that God was faithful.

We are planning a small, private gathering to celebrate and honor her life. Memorials will be given to Camp Joy Bible Camp in Dent, MN.

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  1. Gaye,
    I always connect with your blog postings. I have shared several as our opening devotion at Optimists. This one really touched my heart. Your Mom was something special. I remember those crazy campfire girl meetings; our Moms must have been made out of extraordinary cloth to not only survive but leave us with such wonderful memories. I also remember happy sleepovers in your basement and Camp Joy, interesting coincidence: it’s was on My Dad’s mail route. Please know that you, Julie and Lori are in my thoughts and prayers.

You are Extraordinarily Significant!