After a long illness, my mother passed away in June 2006. Even though we all knew she had little time left, her death still came as a shock.
My brothers helped me write the eulogy, and I delivered it. I almost made it through, maintaining my composure and humor right to the end. But, final goodbyes are never easy. With the last sentence, a poignant and personal message to our mother from my brothers and myself, I lost it. To cry at your mother's funeral is natural and expected. But being an author, and being comfortable with public speaking, I thought I could manage it. I humbly acknowledge grief trumped self-control.
And then there are the relatives and friends, many of which I hadn't seen in decades. Of course, one must always be polite and gracious when someone offers condolences and a sympathetic hug. But, what do you do when you haven't a clue who the devil the person is? Years pass, people change. More than once, I had to discreetly ask a trusted relative, "Who is that?" Then, I had to hide my shocked expression when I realized time has been kinder to me than to others of my bloodline, or to my old friends.
We got through it. At the luncheon after the funeral, I said goodbye not just to my mother, but to many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends – some of which I would see again and some I know I will not. It is an odd experience, looking in the face of your own mortality. My father died ten years ago. And now my mother is gone. It becomes a reality check, to do what there is to do while there is still time.
That being the case, I am writing again. I am happily anticipating the release of my second book, Sins and Secrets. And I am thrilled to be an Aphrodisia author. It is a wonderful rush to jump back into the deep end of my life!
My Mother's Eulogy
Welcome everyone and thank you for coming. We are here to remember and say goodbye to our Mother. She fought the good fight, being as tenacious as a pit bull and never giving up. But finally, after more than thirty years of dealing with various conditions and illnesses, she has found peace.
Mother was the sort of mother who never stopped worrying about her children, no matter what age we were. Were we eating well? Were we getting enough sleep? Were we staying well and not catching colds or the flu?
She kept after our father in the same way, but they were also a couple who enjoyed each other's company very much. Mom and Dad were best friends as well as husband and wife. They had fun together. They loved to dance together, particularly the polka. They also often took us on joy rides to the local woods, sharing their enjoyment of the forest with us and showing us how to spot deer at sunset.
One of those rides wasn't as much fun. Mom and Dad took us on an unmarked dirt road, trying to see some deer. Dad found himself down in a gully. He tried to turn around, and couldn't. We were stranded overnight until lumbermen came to work the next morning and found us. Evidently the road was a logger road, not meant for passenger traffic. As I will explain in a moment, thanks toMother's planning, we were OK. It was scary, but it was kind of fun.
Both my brothers and I were all toilet-trained the same way. Mother's technique was to be with us in the bathroom, run the faucet, and softly say, "Rain, rain, rain." It worked. In fact, the suggestion has lasted the three of us into adulthood. With all the rain we've had the last few days, my brothers and I have needed to stay within easy range of a bathroom.
Mother loved music and sang in the choir. She particularly loved country music, which the three of us hated at the time. The Saturday night ritual was always Country Music Jubilee, then Hee Haw, then the Grand Ole Opry on the radio.
She loved gardening, both for glorious beautiful flowers and for food. Speaking of food, Mother made the best fried chicken. She put the Kentucky Fried Chicken secret recipe to shame. For holidays and family gatherings, she cooked tremendous amounts of food, and still worried whether there was enough for everyone to eat. And while she was cooking, she would sample the food, and at mealtime, while everyone else stuffed themselves, she couldn't eat much more.
Mother had real artistic ability. One of the times she best displayed it was at Christmas. We always had huge trees and many decorations around the house, butMother's crowning achievement was found under the tree. She sculpted an elaborate village there, with mirrors for frozen lakes, pine seedlings, or "crow's feet" for miniature trees, and boxes and props to create multilevel hills and mountains. She would cover the hills with white sheets and cotton to simulate snow. Her village was like Christmas Wonderland to us. My brother continues this tradition in his home.
Mother was the only girl in her family, and she got into hunting just as much as her brothers did. I'm sure a lot of you recall a character Johnny Carson played occasionally on The Tonight Show. His name was Floyd R. Turbo, American, and he would make silly editorial comments on the issues of the day, but dressed differently from other TV commentators. When Mother was going to go hunting, she would put on a red Woolrich jacket and a hat with ear flaps, the resemblance was pretty amazing. I couldn't resist calling her Floyd R. Turbo, American. I think she was somewhat amused. Or else I would call her the Great White Huntress. And she was a successful hunter.
Remember what I told you about Mother being prepared when we were stuck on the logging road? Our Mother made emergency preparedness an art form. No matter where she went, she packed for any potential disaster. On picnics, we packed boxes full of food, enough for a small army, the grill, all the lawn furniture and extra clothes in case one of us fell into the water. When she went to my brother's college graduation, she took the toaster and the coffee pot to the motel. And when she traveled anywhere away from home, we had to lock down the kitchen sink so she wouldn't take it.
Through it all, Mother was motivated by her desire to do the best she could for us. Every night she would send us to sleep by saying, "Good night, sweet dreams, I love you." For the rest of her life, she would continue to send us off with those words. So it is only fitting that now we are able to say the same to send her off.
So, Mother, good night, sweet dreams, we love you.