A Eulogy For Mom

It was the first step in accepting that she was really gone.

Delivered August 5, 2020

“When I first volunteered to give mom’s eulogy, I thought “What in hell did I get myself into?” After all, I’m a writer, not a public speaker, and as outgoing as I am, I’m terrified speaking in front of groups of people. Actually, mom was too. It would give her panic attacks. I guess that’s why we made better writers—it allowed us to hide behind the scenes, where we were more comfortable.    

As I stared at my computer screen wondering how to start this, it hit me that this is that moment where I can get away with talking about all the crazy things she did when she was younger. Then I realized she knows where I live! So, for now, I’m just going say a little about mom, a little about life, and if you walk away with something from it, then I guess I did okay.   

Mom had a good upbringing in a loving home. Gramps was the funny one and Grams was the disciplinarian. Trust me, the stories are legend. Her parents were good to her and she was always loved. She didn’t always understand them growing up, but as she grew older and when she had children of her own, she did, and it brought them closer together. 

Though I’m sure she had her doubts at times, she was a terrific mom. Oh, she had her moments, but so did we. It wasn’t perfect, but looking back, there are nothing but good memories that stay with me. She is a part of her children, her grandchildren, and great grandchildren, and she passed on her very best to us: kindness, empathy, patience, understanding, nurturing, and compassion. We should be grateful and we should be proud. And we should incorporate those traits into our daily lives.

Back in my 20s, mom apologized for the mistakes she’d made with us kids. I thought there was no reason to apologize. There’s no manual for parenting. You do the best you can with what you know. And that’s what she did. She just wanted the best for her kids. The reason she was so harsh on me at times, she said, is because she saw so much of herself in me that she didn’t want me to make the same mistakes she had made in life. She wanted me to do some things better than she did.

I didn’t realize this when I was younger, but Mom was our biggest fan and supporter. She rooted for us; she wanted us to win. She thought we three could do anything we set our minds to. She loved us so much and really all she wanted was for us to be happy. She just wanted to see us living our lives on our terms, doing what we wanted, and truly enjoying it all.

Mom was one of the smartest women we knew and it didn’t require a college education to get there. She raised three kids, ran a household, the finances, and kept us all organized. And she worked outside the home. And she taught us a LOT when we were growing up. We were smart kids because of her. Last year, she applied to college and was looking forward to taking classes. She wanted to write again; it was always her #1 dream. She was proud of me for continuing to pursue my education despite all the responsibilities I had, and she decided that if I could do it, certainly she could, too. Alas, her health issues got in the way. But there is no doubt in my mind she would’ve been great!

When dad died eleven years ago, mom was suddenly a widow after 43 years of marriage. She was on her own for the first time in her life and truly independent. We wondered how she’d handle it. And well… let’s just say that she blossomed. She took charge and made things happen. We never saw her more headstrong and independent, and we were amazed and incredibly proud. We saw a mom we hadn’t seen before, and it made us very happy! Dad had told us in the years before he died, that should something happen to him before mom, we were to let her run her life; she was the boss. And that’s just what we did.

During this time, mom worked outside a lot planting flowers and shrubs, taking care of the land and the animals who lived on it. It was her favorite thing to do besides spending time with us kids. She talked of starting her writing again, taking road trips with her lifelong best friend June, trips south to see her Aunt, taking Grams out to eat, and spending quality time with her sister JoAnn doing things they had never had the chance to do because of family obligations. She was in the next big phase of her life and we were as excited for her as she was.

And then her health got in the way.

When she broke her hip in 2014, everything changed. During and after recovery, she was in and out of the hospital so many times we lost count. And every single time, no matter how sick she was, she always fought back. She fought back hard, too because she had all those things she wanted to do and she wanted that time with us to be great quality time. But those battles became tougher and although she won every single time, it always left battle scars that became more evident each time.  And eventually those dreams she had, suddenly seemed unattainable to her. She would talk about all the things she wanted to do but couldn’t. And I would try to make her feel better by reminding her that yes, while she could no longer do some things, there were other things, she could do.  And so little by little she began to indulge in the things she could do… her cooking, her flowers and plants, her animals… and it made her happy. But you could see it in her eyes that she wanted to do so much more.

Kim and I would occasionally talk about the inevitable— that sometime down the road, there would be that one time that mom would go to the hospital and not come home. We weren’t ready for her to go, but more importantly mom wasn’t ready to go. She made that very clear to us.  And every time she went into the hospital, and every time we prayed for healing, God listened to us. Even this last time. Because we prayed for more than just healing to bring her home, we also prayed for healing mom in whatever way God felt was right. If it was a release from her pain, we were okay with that.  Because this wasn’t about us, it was about mom.

And once again, God listened and here we are today…

No more Procrit injections.

No more oxygen at night.

No more bruises and skin tears.

No more medication.

No more doctor’s appointments.

No more labs, wires, tubes, and procedures.

No more hospitalizations.

No more transfusions.

No more rehab.

No more worrying about falling down again.

No more wondering when that next trip to the hospital will be. 

No more.

Now, I want you to close your eyes for a moment.

Imagine mom walking through a field of tall grass and wildflowers. It’s a warm and sunny day. A few puffy white clouds. A gentle breeze. As she walks, her chin is pointed toward the sky, her lips parted in a wide smile. Her auburn hair is flowing, her skin clear and glowing. And she is surrounded by the animals she cared for during her lifetime– all her beloved pets and countless wildlife who depended on her for safety and nurturing– escorting her to greet the loved ones who awaited her.  

She is happy.

She is free.

You can open your eyes now.

The impact of mom’s presence extends beyond her circle of family and close friends. She was an incredible person, with such a wonderful personality and demeanor. Never a harsh word, never bitter, never mean, never rude. Only kindness and compassion.

Mom didn’t just have a profound impact on those closest to her; there are people out there, so many of them, who never met her in person, who have expressed to us how they feel the pain of our loss because it feels like their loss, too. It’s because over the years we’ve talked about her, shared pictures, videos, and stories, and they feel like she was a part of their life, too.

That’s the kind of person mom was. You couldn’t help but love her.    

Mom wanted us all to remember her. And we will. Always.

She would also want us to live. I mean really live!

So, when we leave here today, and go on with our lives— and we will because that is what we must do, think about this:

Be a positive force in the world. Be good. Do Good. Honor her memory by being kind, patient, compassionate, nurturing, caring, and understanding. Try being kind instead of being right. Do unto others. Help people and animals. Take care of the environment. Make the world a better place.

And finally, find your passion; figure out your life’s dream and live it. Don’t give in to fear or frustration, start saying “I can” instead of “I can’t”, don’t be afraid to try new things, never back down from causes you truly believe in, and always be true to yourself.

That’s what mom would want for us.”

___________________________________________

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