Poet. Wild Woman. Mother.
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Claire Lovell — Kirsten was my mother in law.
One of the first times I met her was at Gwyneth’s, memorial. She was one of the kids with me, Robin and Austin, and we palled around all night. She shocked me with how she spoke of her “wench” of a sister until I realized it was a term of endearment for her. At a time when most would be somber and serious, Kirsten was the light in the room. At her urging, the event became an actual celebration of life. We laughed, and cried some too, but it was some of the most fun we’ve all had together, remembering Gwyneth.
Over the subsequent years, Robin and I spent quite a bit of time with her but I never felt very close to her. When Robin and I were first married, all I knew of being a daughter in law was the tired old trope of having a difficult relationship with your mother in law. In our newlywed days I wanted to be the matriarch of our family, and create new traditions. Kirsten was an impediment to that. But then I got pregnant. My mother did not raise me, and all of a sudden I became scared that I could not be a good mother to a daughter without any example of what that looked like. I started to look at those around me and how they had been mothered, Robin and Kirsten’s relationship being the obvious one to look at. I thought about the stories Robin told me of her childhood, and how much Kirsten’s imagination factored into those stories. Kirsten taught her to love unconditionally, to always hug a sad child, and to dream and imagine with children. She taught her to put away grown up things, and play with children. To put aside careers, and money, and spend time with your children. While I can’t say I’ve adopted this philosophy to the exclusion of any other, at the moment we were creating our family, it was just the guidance I needed. We spent more time together and got to know each other very well. We often spent time together, just the two of us, or spoke on the phone. We shared an experience, motherhood, that finally bridged all the differences between us. In teaching me to mother, Kirsten became my Ma, too, and when Poppy was born, she took her job of being a grandma very seriously.
It was a job she excelled at, because the best way to succeed is to show up, and she was very, very good at that. Every important event of Poppy’s life, she was there. Insignificant days too. Phone calls, Letters, Stories, a memento here and there — Kirsten thought of Poppy all the time and devoted her final years to making memories with her. It brought all four of us closer together, and we had many good times these last few years. I’m proud to say Poppy is continuing the matriarchal Hovick traditions because she learned from the best. Although Kirsten may be gone from our world, her spirit lives on in Poppy and all of us. When we miss her, we can honor her by spending time with those that we love, letting our hearts and imaginations roam free.