My mother’s funeral service was this past Friday, September 5, 2015 at Fairhaven chapel in Maryland. My brother sang “It is Well with My Soul” in a voice that can only be described as angelic! I then delivered her eulogy, as follows:
“On behalf of my brother and me, thank you for being here today to join in the celebration of Mom’s life. I want to share our special memories of our mother and also what the Fairhaven community meant to her.
Mom had a caring and gentle spirit. As I look back, it was the everyday moments that are etched in my mind:
- Sitting on her bed as she taught me to tie my shoes
- Sitting in her lap in the church parsonage as she took committee meeting minutes
- Walking beside her to school during 1st and 2nd grade, a total of 6 miles each day which she walked in high heels!
As the years went by and I became a young mother, states away and often feeling overwhelmed and alone, she supported and guided me with long distance phone calls, most everyday.
Allan experienced her unconditional love and support during and after his divorce and job loss.
She was our rock.
As our families grew with spouses, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, she had an amazing knack of keeping up with each family member despite the distance, with family living in Chicago, Denver, Seattle, Richmond and Atlanta.
When possible, she traveled to visit each of us and our families to enjoy everyday moments and milestone events. Despite health challenges, she attended every graduation and every wedding of her 4 grandchildren. At the age of 78, she delighted in finally getting her first computer. She quickly learned to Skype and view photos from her Facebook friends. She loved to say she had entered “the world of technology.”
Let me share what Fairhaven meant to her. In 2008, after a health and life crisis, she chose to sell her home and move to as she called it, “that place on the hill.” She said she felt like she had finally gotten to college and was living in a dorm. She was blessed to have her lifelong friends, Jean and Sarah, stay with her to the end. But, at Fairhaven, she found a new family, the residents and the staff. She told me she learned so much from talking with and getting to know others. She especially enjoyed mealtime, truly the highlight of each day. Mom would invite Allan, Jan and me to join her at meals when we visited. We were stunned to hear our quiet mother engage others in conversation. We knew she had found her “home.”
As cancer began to take hold, she chose to fight. She told Allan that she would fight to the end with every fiber of her being, and she did.
In retrospect, we truly believe she fought to continue impacting lives. The wonderful aides, nurses and staff were so loving, caring and professional. But they were more than that. They became her “true friends.”
Mom came to Fairhaven, physically ill and broken in spirit. She departed, an integral part of the Fairhaven community, feeling loved and respected.
As I think about the way in which Mom lived each and every day, I am reminded of the quote by Mother Teresa, “Do small things with great love.”
If Mom could speak to us today, I know she would simply say, “love you and thank you.”
We love you Mom!