Please indulge me as this week’s post is the eulogy I will read at my mother’s funeral.
Over the years I have noticed a pattern emerging. Everyone gets together for weddings, births, and finally……. funerals. This is the way it is and will always be. There is a peace to knowing that we are mortal and this journey will end in our returning to our Heavenly Father. Like a pitcher of water poured onto a flower…..the water will return to its source. We return to our source….God.
My mom knew this. And as Alzheimers and other diseases of age stole her mind and her physical abilities……she kept her faith in God and she looked forward to the day when,
as she would say, “Jesus is coming to get me.”
1Cor 13 says:
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
When I asked my wife, Linda, to describe what my mother meant to her she summarized this passage by saying that my mom was an angel on earth. These past 25 years as my mom’s frailties became more pronounced, her spiritual gifts emerged full force. As she lay in the hospital a few days before she passed, slipping into and out of a coma-like state, she was telling all the nurses and doctors how her daddy was a policeman in Alton, and how much God and she loved them and she would kiss their hand and thank them for taking care of her and she would tell them to come back when they get a chance. She would wave at the kids and tell them how much she and Jesus loves them. As St. Paul said, “it is not I that live, but Christ that lives through me.” Everyone that was blessed to be near her these final few days saw the living embodiment of that scripture.
My mom was always the encourager. She would send cards to everyone and anyone she thought needed one. She never missed a birthday or anniversary. I received a birthday card once…….signed Love, Jim, Ruth, Tom, and Dennis. Well, I am Dennis, Tom had passed away, and I never referred to my mom and dad as Jim and Ruth. When I asked her about it, she said she was “on a roll” sending out cards and signed this that way by mistake. So if you got a card from my mom signed Love, Mom and Dad, I’d appreciate it if you return it.
She would answer the phone most times when you call the house. I’d be over there and a wrong number or a telemarketer would call and she would hold a 5 minute conversation with them. She would tell them about what a good job they are doing and how she loves them, and God loves them, and she would ask them to pray for her and then hang up. I would ask her who it was and she would reply, “I don’t know. I think it was a wrong number.”
She used to ask you the same question repeatedly. My dad would always try to answer her accurately. Not me. She would ask where I worked and I would say,”AT&T.” Then she would ask what I do there and sometimes I would tell her that I am the CEO and we are millionaires. She would smile and ask to borrow money.
My mom had beautiful handwriting. If you were ever blessed to receive a card from her, and if you are in this room, it a pretty good chance you did. Then you know what I mean.
She loved animals. Living with her was like living with St Francis. She would have a sticky note ready to remind my dad to fill the bird feeder. She had multiple parakeets that she named Sonny. And dad would bring the bird out to sit with her and she would look out the picture window all day and watch the birds and “the damn squirrels”. One time we went on vacation with my dad and left our dog, buddy, with my mom for the week. All day Sonny was on the table next to her, buddy was lying on her feet, and the Sweet Gum tree outside was filled with birds. Animals know your soul. And when she would come over the cat would sit on the back of the chair behind her and purrr. The other cat would rub against her and buddy would lie next to her.
Here’s a short list of the species that graced our house…….cats, dogs, rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, a chameleon and associated meal worms as food, birds, oodles of unfortunate fish (typically because of the cats), and numerous turtles. Her love of animals has been passed to her grandchildren who have added ferrets and guinea pigs to that list.
My mom’s favorite activities were what signified her as a true Catholic……ice cream and Bingo. My kids would play horse bingo with her and use M&M’s as markers. Her and dad wouId eat the M&M’s as we played the game. We would always get a small bottle of coke when she came over and she would milk that glass of coke for hours by putting tons of ice in it all day. We finally figured out that we needed a 20 ounce coke and four ice trays for grandma. I used to tell the kids that when dad would work nights…..mom would take Tom, Grandma Eichorn, and myself to get ice cream. If we wanted scoop ice cream we would go to Grandpa Mac’s across from the Cameo theater. For soft serve, we would drive to Wood River and go to Quality Dairy. Their ice cream cones seemed to be as big as your head!! If we were short on money, we’d go to DQ and get a Dilly Bar. She didn’t like them too much, so that was rare.
She loved roses and St. Theresa, the little flower. On earth, she couldn’t have real roses because they would make her cough, but I am sure that right now her and St. Theresa are running through the rose gardens in heaven!!
Mom loved movies, especially the disaster movies like Airport, Towering Inferno, and Earthquake. She always told me, “Don’t worry, he is the main character, he can’t die”. She loved James Bond movies, and anything with Paul Newman or Robert Redford in it. We would go to the Starlight drive – in and I would fall asleep in the back seat after eating everything she has brought for snacks. Who wanted to see Dr. Zhivago anyway?!?!
My mom never had an unkind or negative word to say about any one. She would always say that they were going through a phase and that they’ll change. And you know, she was right more often than not.
My mom’s greatest contribution to my character is something that I will leave you with. As Christians, our hope rests in the death and resurrection of Our Lord, Jesus Christ……and because of this……we can celebrate today.
My parents devoted their lives to living according to God’s commandments. I hope to stand on their shoulders and follow their examples of peace, humilty, charity, commitment, and Christian love. This is my mother’s wish for her family.
Thank you all for coming today to celebrate my mother’s life and her transition to heaven.