Thursday, October 30, 2014

When the Words Finally Came

I’ve mentioned before how hard it was for months to post anything.  My writing was pretty much non-existent.
My mind was so full of chaos.

And then my dad asked me to write something to say at my mom’s funeral.
And the words had to come.

I thought about posting some of what I wrote before and decided against it.
But it feels right now.  For a couple of reasons.  There were many people who loved my mom, and it wasn’t possible for them to come to her funeral.  I thought these words might bring them comfort.

And the other reason is that this week has been a hard week.  And for no other reason than I miss my mom.  Sometimes in this grief, the sadness is so deep.  I want to remember the life that my mom had.  The special person that she was.
So here it is, folks.  I made some edits for privacy reasons and took out the greeting/ending.  Otherwise, here we go.  My mom.

Mom had a life well lived.  She had a life full of family and friends. 

If you had ever been to any of Mom and Dad’s homes, you knew that Mom loved to garden.  When we moved, the house was new and the yard was a bit… limited.  In fact, half of the back yard was covered in straw to hold down the grass seed.  But Mom and Dad knew that it could be special.  Over the years they added trees, planting beds, statues and Dad’s wood working creations.  Mom’s garden statues made her so happy.  When you would visit their home, Mom loved to give a tour of her planting beds.  When she would visit us kids, she was happy to bring her gardening gloves and dig right in to make our homes special too.

Mom was silly.  Mom loved to have fun.  Mom loved to laugh.  A few years ago, some of us were home the weekend of the Kentucky derby.  Mom organized a betting pool for the winning horse.  We printed out pictures of the horses and had to pin a picture of our horse to our shirt, and of course, because it was the Derby, we had to wear a big hat, selected from the vast amount of dress up clothes that she kept for her grandkids.  She would stay up late playing cards with the family.  She loved to win at a game of Scrabble.  She would throw herself right in a tournament of volleyball or ladder ball.  She would worry about you if you hadn’t played your turn yet in a Words with Friends game (and perhaps get a little impatient with you too).  She loved to cheer on the Chicago Cubs, sing during the seventh inning stretch and celebrate with the Go Cubs Go song after a win.

Mom had a way of making everything special.  Mom loved to send cards.  Years ago, Mom had a greeting card program on the computer.  She loved to make us personalized cards.  She always remembered special occasions.  When she was shopping for a gift, she was incredibly thoughtful.  Over the years, Mom would make us special birthday cakes, always personalized with something that was special to us.  For sixteenth birthdays, she would decorate the cake as a driver’s license with our face in it, she might add a special cartoon character or toy as the decoration.  Mom and Dad’s home was filled with Mom’s special treasures.  Souvenirs from trips, inspirational sayings, pictures of family.

For many years, Mom had a career working outside the home, but to be honest, I will always think of Mom as a homemaker.  Mom had a special gift of creating an inviting home and making people feel welcome.  She would prepare special meals for guests-a big pot of her chicken and noodles or lasagna.  She was always thoughtful of special touches that would make people feel welcome.  If you were coming to visit, she would make sure that she had things that you liked to eat.  Growing up, Mom took in our friends and made them feel welcome.  As we grew, she welcomed our spouses as if they had always been a part of our family.

The other night, one of my daughters was talking about Mom and she said, “She was a very special lady to me.”  I’m sure that we all feel that same way about Mom.  Mom was a kind woman who made friends easily.  She was loved by many.  She had lifelong friends who lifted her spirits during hard times.  She treasured visits with her siblings and their families.  She was embraced by my dad’s family and was always seen as a sister, not an in-law.

Mom loved her family deeply.  She provided comfort after a bad day.  When we were struggling, Mom would send an encouraging note (in most recent years through email) to let us know that she was thinking of us. She had a daily calendar full of inspirational quotes.  If she felt the day’s quote would provide comfort, she would let us know.  She cheered us on and encouraged us always.  Sometimes even cheering some of us on during the Illinois Marathon with her signs and cow bells. 

She loved being a grandma.  She liked to pick out a small toy or treasure for them.  She liked to bake with her grandkids.  She would sit down on the floor with the kids and play with toys, dress up clothes, color or work on a puzzle.  These moments brought Mom so much joy.  And as the grandkids grew, she was so proud of the adults they were becoming.

Last year, Mom and Dad celebrated 50 years of marriage.  Their journey together spanned six children and eleven grandchildren.  Mom’s love for Dad was a quiet one.  It was an undercurrent that was present through the ordinary tasks of daily life, like ironing Dad’s shirts, to standing close to Dad during the struggles that we all endure in life.  Watching them in quiet moments, you could catch a glimpse of these two young kids from Nebraska that chose to make a life together and were still in love all these years later.

 Mom was a woman of big faith.  She had a favorite bible verse from Phillippians that we included in the program because it was so important to her.  Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”  She kept it on the fridge as a constant reminder. 

I used to think that verse meant that if we were patient, life would have a way of working out.  But sometimes life doesn’t work out.  And Mom knew that.  What I think Mom was trying to teach us when she would quote this verse is that faith is about letting go of our expectations out of life and appreciating the quiet beauty.  Mom knew that life doesn’t always work out the way we want.  And most times, there is no answer why things don’t work out.  Life has pain and grief.  But we have to carry on.  We have to be grateful of the people around us and those special moments that we are given. 

I hope that we remember that. I hope that we are grateful of the moments we were given with this special lady.  I hope those moments bring us comfort when the waves of grief seem too much.  That’s how we can honor Mom’s kind, loving spirit.


This post is part of my 31 Day series.  To start from the beginning, click here.

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