Tuesday, August 5, 2008

In July we hosted a memorial celebration of my mom's life. It was a wonderful party held at the Newport Art Museum, upstairs on a stormy Sunday afternoon in July. Friends came from all over. We had framed photos of her up on the fireplace mantels and 3 large photo boards of her filled to overflowing with snapshots. The caterers provided a feast including her favorite chocolate cake with white icing and frozen Dells Lemonade!

I spoke a few words about my mother on behalf of myself and my siblings. I thought I'd publish that here, for posterity.


I’d like to take a moment to thank you all for coming today. I would also like to thank you all for the out pouring of support and love you have shown my mom, dad, and family during these last 14 months during my mom’s illness and after she passed away. Your words of encouragement, gifts, food and acts of kindness have been greatly appreciated even if we did not have the clarity of mind in the haze of this ordeal to write or say anything at the time.

When I think of my mother I am reminded of Jann Arden’s song about her mother. The song starts out “I’ve got money in my pocket, I like the color of my hair, I’ve got a friend who loves me, got a house, I’ve got a car, I’ve got a good mother and her voice is what keeps me here.”

When I hear those words I think: Hey that’s me! And Mike, and Kate. We’ve all turned out pretty well. We are all happily married to our best friend. None of us are in the poor house. We own our own homes. We all have generally reliable transportation, and only one of us has begun to resort to coloring our hair. (I won’t say who…)

Our mom, taught us to take care of ourselves. She was not the kind of mother who got up early to make us bacon and eggs. There were a few reasons why she did not do this. The first reason being that she was not really a morning person. (Truth be told we were all generally happier to have her stay in bed out of our way so we could decide ourselves if the temperature in mid February during a snow squall really did require a coat.) But she also did it so that we would learn to make our own breakfast and get ourselves to the bus on time and that if we did not take the coat and were cold it was our own darn fault. She believed that a parent’s job was to teach their child how to succeed with out them. Planned obsolescence was her goal I suppose.

And like the song she taught us to “face forward and be ourselves”. I often marveled with mom at how different each of us turned out to be. We each enjoy different lifestyles, hobbies, and personalities and we are each happy with what we have, who we are and the lives we have created. That is no small feat in today’s world. In the end she was an undeniable success as a mother.

But she did not do this alone. In the end Jann Arden says of her father “I’ve got a good father and his strength is what makes me cry.” I would be remiss if I did not point out Mom’s final parting lesson to us. She did not do any of this alone. Dad was always by her side, never more so than during her illness. We watched, as he took tender care of her. In the end her suffering provided us with an opportunity to witness what true love really is.

In the Bible 1 Corinthians 13 reminds us that in the end three gifts abide: Faith, Hope and Love. The greatest of these is love.

1 comment:

Haley-O said...

Oh, beautiful, Anne.... Thanks for sharing with us....