the last day of creation.

a eulogy given earlier today at my mom’s funeral:

this was difficult for me to write because, in school, my mother wrote all my papers, so please excuse the grammatical errors and poor word choices.

when i would call my mother from charlotte, ten or fifteen minutes into the conversation, after she had told me every minute detail about the changes in my parents’ and sister’s lives and given me updates on the neighbors, she’d pause briefly, before going through a list of my friends, some that i hadn’t seen in years and listen with genuine interest as i passed along all the information i had. i spoke with one of these friends recently and he said that he couldn’t, after only meeting my family once, several years ago, pick my mom out of a crowd, but that he’d always remember how she was unquestioningly nice to him, just because he knew me. and she was an amazing cook, he added.

it would be easy to recite a few anecdotes from her life to illustrate why we all feel she was so wonderful, but because my mom worried that my sister and i especially would only have memories tainted by her illness, i wanted to talk about a couple of things that i will continually tell people about the past few months when asked about my mother.

someone once said that you cannot truly calculate the worth of someone until you see how they react when times are bad, when one is struggling.

after a fourteen-hour surgery, the first thing my mom wrote to me was to tell me to go back to work the next day because she didn’t want me to use my sick days when i wasn’t actually sick. the second thing was to convey her apologies to a friend who was staying with me because the house wasn’t as tidy as it could be. i will remember that.

when someone new entered her room she would sometimes fake a heart attack and pretend to pass out. a few seconds later, as the visitor stood panicking, she’d open her big blue eyes, smile, and put her hand over her face in feigned embarrassment. she was saying, this is not a serious place, cancer will not control me, laugh and celebrate my life with me. i’ll tell you that story repeatedly.

i would tell you how she was sorry she didn’t have scones for me when i arrived home.

i would tell you how, when i entered the room, she would force me to drink from my sister’s water bottle. she became sort of obsessed with keeping me hydrated. at the hospital she would ask one of the nurses for juice and then tell me to hurry up and drink it so she could order me another.

i will remember her, once the cancer had entered her hip and she could barely walk, being helped by two people, and how she lifted her leg to kick open a door, then looked back over her shoulder to me to give me a smile and wink.

on the day of a red cross blood drive, she woke up intermittently and, without fail, asked us to turn on the television or check the computer to find out how many units were donated. when her coworkers visited later that night, she wouldn’t let them ask questions about her health until they first answered the question she had written: how many units?

virginia woolfe once wrote that you cannot find peace by avoiding life. i’m pretty certain the author never met my mother but she was able to sum up her way of thinking nonetheless.

i will add this (and then, dad, i promise i’m done): today we are celebrating the life of my favorite person in the world. her life cannot be defined by her illness, but it emphasizes, rather than overshadows, her courage, selflessness, humor, dignity, and love.

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One Response to “the last day of creation.”

  1. Nancy Says:

    Life is worth living in context of the life and the people around it.

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