Tribute to My Mom

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Tribute to My Mom from Debbie Zipp her daughter

I was not able to be by our Mother’s side, hold her hand and speak softly to her when she passed.  I know I am not the only one unable to be by a loved ones side because these are unprecedented times. And there will be no immediate Memorial to celebrate her life where we can reminisce, hug and be a comfort to one another.  No family will be there with her as she is laid to rest next to my Dad which breaks my heart. And so, we will remember and honor her in the best way we can with sharing these details and the written tributes along with a video of her life. I hope, wherever you are, you will take a moment to read about Virginia Zipp and watch the 10-minute video about her life to take the place of an in person memorial. I want the heavens to be overwhelmed with loving thoughts of my Mother.

Virginia Lee Geysels Zipp, my Mother, was a gem of a human being and was a supreme survivor.  She struggled and fought so hard to live during the last few months of her life, even though there was no hope she would.  Her life force and her strength during the final days of her bed ridden life boggled everyone’s mind.   Through her  entire life my Mother was a tough woman who survived all the challenges and overcame whatever life threw at her. 

I would say my Mother found the biggest joy and the greatest source of her happiness when my Dad, Wilbur Eugene Zipp stepped into her life.  My Dad loved my Mother the minute he saw her crossing the street in his car with his brother after the war.  He told his brother Claude, “I’m going to marry her”.  And he did! Wilbur was her everything to her. He was her soul mate, her protector, her knight in shining armor. Virginia loved him beyond all measure and was deeply dedicated to him as he was to her.  It was the kind of love affair they write movies about and that love affair lasted 63 years. My father once said, “that he only loved her more with each day.” That kind of love between partners in life is only to be cherished and admired. 

My mother and father were so lucky in the love department with each other and with the 2 wonderful children they raised that adored and admired them. After a lifetime of sharing their lives together, Wilbur, my father, passed away in 2011.  After my Dad’s death, Virginia had to give up her home and move to a new state to be with me so I could take care of her.  This move took a tremendous amount of strength and courage to survive. But, as I said, my Mother was one tough and strong person. So, she forged a new life in CA with me and my husband, Mike, my kids, my friends and my dogs. 

Virginia was always a stunningly beautiful lady…Movie star beautiful.  Despite the scars from her childhood, my Mother was full of compassion, sweet charm, with a wonderfully contagious smile and at all times she was one classy and great Lady with a capital L.  She loved the little things.  The small treasures in life we sometimes take for granted.  Her joy for the simple gifts’ life offers, like watching the bunny’s scurry, the cardinals, the meadow larks and the blue jays light on a branch, in the yards of wherever we lived in the Kansas City area, were true sources of happiness  and wonder for her. When she visited the ocean, touched an orange hanging on a fruit tree or saw a palm tree swaying with the wind, here in CA, she’d go positively giddy. It was a truly touching thing to watch her reaction.  And it was contagious.

Her appreciation for the little things in life taught me a great deal and so I, too, became a fan of the simple treasures and blessings in life.  I owe that to her as well as my love for animals.   Her love for animals knew no bounds, she loved and adored all creatures great and small, especially her and my Dad’s doggie, Schnoodles. In CA, my Mother turned her great love for animals to her grand doggies and they loved her back with all their hearts. Her open deep love and dedication to her children, myself and my brother, Cary, was profound.  We could always feel how she cherished us.  Her other great passion was…Hallmark Greeting Cards (I kid you not) and sending the perfect card with just the right message to a loved one.  Yes, it’s true. She scrutinized the Hallmark Cards like a wine or art aficionado.  The hours she would spend in a Hallmark Card Shop perusing each and every card…or so it seemed at the time… tickled me pink.

I have memories of such good times and, yes, a few bad ones, but we made it through, she and I, with the bond of a Mother and daughter’s love intact and I celebrate that today. As Paula Finn says, “I will focus on all the great memories. I will always reflect, with smiles and grateful tears, on our moments together.  As with every Mother and her child, the child eventually grows up and you walk side by side bonded forever as friends and equals.  And eventually the roles reverse as the child becomes the caregiver.”  That was how it was for me and her.

There are too many memories and stories to share now, so I hope the video I created, in honor of my Mother, will give my family and friends and those who knew and loved her a glimpse of entirety of her 91 years of life.  I hope you will take 5 minutes to watch.

I truly believe she is with all of us today in some way. Not the way we want her to be, but her sweet & lovely spirit is in our hearts and she is surrounding us with love and comfort. Virginia Lee Zipp had a very long and full life.  Besides her 2 children, myself and Cary, she had 7 amazing grandchildren and 4 super great grandchildren. And… after an entire life without a true best friend, she finally found a best friend and a new soulmate with “Patty” in Memory Care.  They held hands, always sat together , laughed together and simply adored one another.  It was such a long overdue and miraculous gift for my Mother that I am so grateful for.

Mother, you will always be a part of me and in my heart. I will love you forever. You deserve to finally rest in peace and be without pain of any kind.  Your memory will live in your family’s heart and the hearts all those who are lucky enough to have known you and love you.  I  remember what Helen Keller said: “What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”

As my Mother embarks on a new journey, she takes all the love she has known with her. I know she is surrounded by the love of God and finally is in the arms of my Daddy, her precious husband.  She is whole and happy and free and enjoying the company, once again, of her mother, father, sisters, sister in laws, brother in laws, her beloved dog Schnoodles and my dogs Petey, Porshee, Vinnie, Fido and Essie. I like to think of my Mother being reunited with all her loved ones, from the whole Geysels and Zipp clan, sitting together in their recliners watching a Kansas City Royals game and eating lots of vanilla ice cream with Hershey’s chocolate sauce.  I Love You Mother. You were a great wife, mother, friend and a really truly great Lady and you will be greatly missed.


  • The Three Tomatoes LA Life editor, Debbie Zipp is your friendly guide to the best of everything in LA with a tomato style perspective. Debbie is an actor, producer, and writer. She is best known for her recurring role as Donna on the CBS series "Murder She Wrote" starring Angela Lansbury. She has had many other TV and stage roles and has starred in over 300 national TV commercials. As head of In The Trenches Productions, Debbie produced, directed, acted in many short films for her company. Her book, The Aspiring Actor's Handbook: What Seasoned Actors Wish They Had Known was recently published. Buy her book: The Aspiring Actor's Handbook: What Seasoned Actors Wish They Had Known

4 Responses

  1. Tulis says:

    This is a beautiful tribute. I’d like to think of her reading it over your shoulder.

  2. Teresa says:

    You are a beautiful writer. You are a beautiful film maker. And your mother sounds like she had a big part in making that happen. Sending love to you….

  3. Oh Debbie, I’m so sorry. Your mother truly was beautiful, and she had such a warm smile. How sad not to be able to say good-bye, but from what you’ve described, it surely was not needed. She knew she was loved, that you would all have been there if you could have been, and that you all will miss her. Thank you for sharing her story.

  4. Susan Morgenstern says:

    What a beautiful tribute – both the film and what you wrote. Debbie, truly Virginia was so blessed to have a daughter like you. And she lives on in you forever — so much of what you wrote about her applies to you! You are a light in this world, and I know she was so proud of you. Keep shining on, dear heart. Deep, deep condolences and much love.

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