Since they called me on March 1st to tell me about your passing, it’s been a whirlwind of activity. Dealing with your affairs and estate, as well as executing on your memorial.
I felt that the words that I said at your memorial service weren’t particularly well thought out, or very eloquent. So, in that spirit I wanted to write you a proper eulogy. As always, like at Aquinas, my homework is late. But I wanted to give you a cogent, heartfelt eulogy.
First, and most importantly, you are great mother. From you I was borne, and you took care of me. I remember when I was young and frequently in the hospital for asthma, you were there while I was in the oxygen tent. My tenderest memory, was sitting in the house at 927 Cliffwood Lane, watching TV one night, and you were running your hand along my shin. Somehow, that’s the most comforting memory I have of any sense of physical touch.
And later years I confided in you. You listened and kept my confidences, but you also held your counsel. Sometimes on important items, that in retrospect, I wish I had known. While initially when I found this out I was irritated, I understood why you did it. You realize that by telling me what you really thought would only elicit negative reaction from me. And you knew that I had to make my own mistakes because that’s how I learn. It took me a while to see the wisdom of this position, but as you told me in grade school, I am a late bloomer. So it is with this.
You were so funny. I remember standing in the kitchen at 927 and laughing so hard some days after school that I would have an asthma attack. I love this. I remember the time you came home and said “somebody in the neighborhood has Alzheimer’s but I can’t remember who”. To this day I don’t know if you were kidding or not, such was the enormity of your comedic genius. I will always love the humor that I found in realizing the best picture we had of you in your later years was the picture on your medical marijuana card. I will always remember our trips to the dispensary and laugh. If I, or Emma or Anna, can be said to have a sense of humor, and the love of fun, it comes from you. Our joy is a direct descendent of your spirit.
You were so independent. You had your own way of doing things, and no one was going to change your mind, not even Dad. You did things the way you wanted and didn’t care what other people thought. You started your own shoe store and did it your way. You refreshed your nurse’s license and worked at the migrant health Center in Immokalee. If I or Emma or Anna can be said to have any Independence, it comes from you. Our independence is a direct descendent of your spirit.
You were so strong. No one was going to mess with your family. And when you had your own difficult times you bore them with a steely resolve. I remember the stories you told about you and your father picking through the rubble and being among the dead after an oil well explosion. I remember the story of how you and your family withstood a hurricane, and came home to find fish on the second floor of your house in Galveston Texas. You faced breast cancer in the early 80s, before there was a lot of support, and you did it with strength and Grace. And, it must be said, not a small amount of humor. I remember you being playfully annoyed with someone, and whipping out your prosthesis and throwing it at him much to his shock, but to great comedic effect. I hope that we, me, Emma, Anna, can be imbued with some small part of your strength as we face the difficult task of living without You. Any strength we display is a direct descendant of your spirit.
You showed us what a loving relationship was with Dad. You made it clear that your relationship was the core of our lives and that we were secondary to that. It was hard for me to see the logic in that at first, but as always the wisdom showed itself to me later. Your relationship with Dad will always be a model of a strong marriage. I know it wasn’t easy and yet you bore it with strength and Grace, as you did in most things.
I know it was difficult for you, after Dad died. Your relationship with him had been the center of your lives for almost 60 years. Your sadness was palpable. But in your remaining 18 months you gave me a great gift, one for which I will always be grateful. You let me help you, and you let me take care of you. I took car e of your affairs, and I talked to you several times a week in those last 18 months. They were all a joy. You worried about money, but Dad had taken good care of you, and all I could do was reassure you. Nevertheless, thank you for allowing me to help. We grew closer in the last 18 months, and it was such a blessing, though I couldn’t do anything to ease your sadness.
You died as you lived, independent and on your own terms. While I wish we could have known the full extent of your health issues, I know you wouldn’t have wanted us to worry. And you wanted to meet your eternal reward on your own terms. What else could we expect?
As you travel through the undiscovered country and join the great majority, know that we remember you, and will love you always. I remember how you ended the last phone call we had. I remember you and I laughing at the trouble you gave the doctors. And when I said I loved you the end of the call you responded as you did many times in the last 2 years of your life. You said, “I love you more”. I never doubted that. I miss you and I always will.