PARK RAIDS, Minn. -- Pam Roberts of Park Rapids left behind seven daughters age 17 to 35 when she died from lung cancer at age 56 in 2000, but what they learned from her has shaped them into the women they are today.
Their oldest daughter, Connie Carmichael of Park Rapids, said she thinks of her mom often. “Her birthday was May 10 so she would have been 76 this year,” she said. “She loved the fishing opener. It was her favorite holiday and she would start planning a couple months in advance. Back in the day my mom and dad's boat was named the ‘Lucky 7’ after their seven daughters and people call us that to this day.”
Carmichael, is the director of the Living at Home program of the Park Rapids Area. She and her husband Russ have three children (Logan, Asarae and Andrew) with four grandchildren and one on the way.
“My kids probably remember my mom the most as they were 16, 13 and 10 when she died,” she said. “They talk about her often. Russ and my greatest joy now is spending time with our grandchildren. Russ just bought a boat and named it Grandpa's Pride and put all the grandkids' names on it including the grandson not yet born. I secretly think he wants me to love fishing as much as mom did.”
Carmichael said responsibility and resilience are the greatest lessons she learned from her mom.
“My sister Debbie and I did a lot of babysitting, especially when mom and dad went fishing or hunting,” she said. “Russ and I have tried to raise our kids with the resilience, responsibility and logic that mom instilled in me. Any adversity or problem she faced she handled with dignity and respect, even her cancer diagnosis.”
As in all families, there were disagreements from time to time.
“My mom was not one to hold a grudge,” she said. “I remember as a teenager having an argument with her, usually over something silly, but as soon as it was over we were going to the DQ or the A&W for a treat and then a ride around the lake. I still love a good road trip. Mom loved a good joke and loved to kid around with our friends.”
Debbie Lamb, the second daughter, lives in Detroit Lakes with husband Tim. “My daughter, step daughters, and grandchildren all live close enough to carry on the family traditions,” she said.
Lamb learned canning by helping her mom, a skill she uses every year. “I am the one who supplies everyone in the family with dill pickles using mom’s recipe,” she said. “My daughter and husband wash and slice the cucumbers while I man the stove. I learned canning from helping mom when I was growing up. I remember her shelves and shelves of canned goods from corn, pickles, peaches, pears, beets, the list goes on and on. Although she tried canning peas every year, she didn’t get very many because with seven girls eating the peas out of the garden there were not many left.”
Lamb said she has also carried on her parents’ traditions of hunting and fishing with her family.
Kari Smith is the third daughter. She and husband Eric have two adult children, one grandchild and another on the way. She is a family child care provider and met her husband in Calif. where she was a nanny and he was stationed in the Navy.
“We moved around with the military for a while and finally settled back in Park Rapids in 1997,” she said. “My favorite memory growing up was Christmas time. We had what could be described as a Charlie Brown tree some years as the tree was whatever my dad cut down. We always had a big surprise from Santa and a lot of the relatives would come over for Christmas dinner.”
She said the most important lesson she learned from her mom was to always have a sense of humor. “My mom had a great sense of humor,” she said. “Whenever people talk about her it is always with a funny story that makes us laugh.”
Nikki Rogers is the fourth daughter. She is married to Dale Rogers Jr. and they have three children, Bethany 21, Alexis 20 and Rodney 13.
She said one important lesson she learned from her mom is never to miss curfew.
“One of my favorite memories is my mom always decorated for every holiday, with Christmas being her favorite,” she said. “We had a chimney fire one Christmas morning, and she was determined to get everything cleaned up after the fire department left and still carry on with our Christmas dinner!”
Andrea Morgan, the fifth daughter, works as an office manager. She and her husband Joe live in Park Raids and have three children. Hannah is 17, Brandi is 12 and Tysen is 7.
“The most important lesson I learned from my mom is that family is everything,” she said. “My kids are the most important things in my life. I will be there and do anything for them. I am very involved with our kids’ sports, and have been running our youth basketball program for six years. I am on booster clubs for girls’ basketball and track. I love being at every game and track meet, cheering on my kids. There really is nothing better.”
Shanna Amundson is the sixth daughter. She lives on Height of Land Lake with husband Bryan and three sons (Gage 19, Chase 16 and Blake 12) and works in Detroit Lakes.
Chris Moe, the youngest daughter, was just 17 when she lost her mom. “She taught me to listen, be respectful and work hard,” she said. “I work at the Great Northern Cafe in Park Rapids and have three kids.”“I am always reminded of my mom when it’s summertime and I’m working in the yard,” she said. You could always find her in her garden, bent completely over in ‘mama shorts’ with no care in the world, and I do that same thing. My husband has also carried on the same Mother’s Day tradition that my dad had done for as long as I can remember by taking me fishing! And I’m proud to say that I can out fish my husband and three boys!”
Bradly is 16, Brandon is 14 and Emily is 8. “I have been married to Danny Moe for almost two years,” she said. “I would have loved for my kids to be able to meet mom. She died the summer of my senior year, and I miss her every day as much now as then. Mom was really all about us girls and dad.”