This is the eulogy that I read today at my Mother’s funeral. What a hard piece of writing to do as I wanted to say so much, yet keep it short. I’m rather proud of what I wrote.
On behalf of my mother’s family, I want to thank all of the people who have shown her kindness over the years. We knew that she had a lot of friends, but didn’t realize how blessed she was with how many people knew and loved and “Miss Milly”. I also want to thank all of the families that were part of her and for all that you’ve done for her over the years and the love that you showed her.
My reflections are those of a daughter looking back on the 62 years she was my mother. Growing up, I don’t remember when she didn’t tell me several times a day how special I was and how loved and wanted l was. It would get to the point where as a teenager, I would push her away and say “Mom, knock it off!” as only that age group can do. It wasn’t until later in life that I began to realize that not everyone’s childhood was filled with love like that. As a result, it made it very easy for me to love others as I went on through life.
My mother often said that she only ever wanted to be a wife and a mother, and she certainly accomplished that. The sacrifices she made for her family were countless. Dance lessons, driving us around to sell Girl Scout cookies and baseball practice are just some of the daily tasks she took on willingly before there was even the concept of a soccer mom. She did without so that her children would be able to do the things that she thought were important for us and spoke to the values she wanted for us to have.
She taught me how to keep a house, as she was very proud of her own. In fact, she was proud of every new thing that she got. “I’m proud of the new woodpile”;…… “I’m proud of the new air conditioner”… I think you get the picture. Having grown up during the Great Depression, she never met a sale she didn’t like, and my brother, his wife, and I have been cleaning out some of her vast treasures this past year. She had a lot of treasures, having lived in the same house for over 50 years.
If you’ve ever been in her house, you know of her extensive collection of books. It started when her mother would have a box of books delivered from one of the downtown department stores for $5. We all three children had our own library cards when we were little, and were expected to finish out the summer reading program each year. To her credit, she never censored what we read, and we were exposed to the breadth of knowledge that was to be had in the 60s and 70s.
She taught me to “Do things right. If you’re going to do something, then do it right!”, she would say. So, she taught me to use good materials when I sew, and not to stop on one of my pieces of art work until “it looked right.” She was very proud of the framed art quilt that I gave her for Christmas and it hung across from her bed in the nursing home. The last good conversation that I had with her over the phone two weeks ago, I reminded her that all she had to do, when she was ready, was to go through the window square in the art quilt, and the column of Light was on the other side that she could use it to cross over. I taught her a prayer to say when she looked at it, and could hear her voice relax over the phone. Her last words were….”I’m so proud of you.” My brother and sister-in-law who were with her that next to the last morning, when she was still lucid, said that she kept saying, “I have to look at the picture; I have to look at the picture!”. I’m glad that it gave her something to focus on at the end which was my intent.
We picked out the dress she wanted to be buried in at back at Christmas, but it had short sleeves, and she didn’t want her “old lady arms to show”. I promised I would make her a stole she could be buried in and showed her the fabric only three weeks ago. She loved it, but wanted some beading on it. I agreed and went back home, thinking I would have more time to work on it. 20 yards of hemming later and one side of buttons and beads finished, she has something really pretty to wear to dance around on the floors of heaven.
One of Mama’s favorite comments was “Everything is going to turn out all right”. She would say this even sometimes when I don’t think she had a clue as to how things would evolve, but she would plunge forward anyway. Another she got from her mother… “Keep your thinking straight” which for her meant that don’t get distracted from your goals or be led astray by the unimportant.
The day she died, as I sat by her bedside, still sewing on the shawl, many of the staff came in to see her. They all talked about how proud she was of all 3 of her children. She told them many times that we were her proudest accomplishments. Well, I’m proud of you, Mama, and honored to be your daughter. When she found out only a week before she died that she had pancreatic cancer, she said on the phone that she was tired of fighting, and then said, “I fought a good fight” almost asking me if I thought that she had done so, too. Yes, you did Mama. You fought a good fight and died with a smile on your face, holding the hand of a minister, and your heart filled with the Love of the Lord. May you rest in peace, or dance in heaven, or whatever suits you, because this is your time now. We love you so much, Mama as we turn you over to the Lord!