It’s truly an overwhelming task to write a eulogy. One wants to pen something that encapsulates everything about that person. Their strengths, accomplishments, joys and what their presence meant to those around them. The thing that inevitably happens is it is filtered through the writer’s personal prism and one’s own experiences. As a result, some things get lost or not told at all because of limited knowledge. Or even worse it becomes about the author and how that person effected them. But My mother meant so much to so many people that, to do so, would be a great disservice to her memory. For that, more than anything, I don’t want to fail.
This is my 4th draft. Every time I write one I sit there thinking that it just isn’t good enough or that I’ve missed some crucial part of who she was. Like her undying faith in Christ, even at the very end. Or how she exemplified what it was to be a true Christian. My mother was someone who lived with an open heart and an open hand to to help all who crossed her path.
In one I tried so hard to focus on the fact that while she wanted to be a stay at home mom of 7 kids, like the wonderful woman from which she got her name, she got more than 7 instead. She got them in her nieces in nephews. From the moment they came into her sphere they were everything to her. She took them shopping, trips to theme parks, and was an ear to bend when they felt like no one was listening. And I couldn’t bare to leave out how at times, for some, was another parental figure. When life took very unexpected and cruel turns she moved into their homes to help care for them. Family was of the utmost importance to her. And to leave that out would have been a sin.
Then there was the draft where I talked about how her life didn’t turn out the way she had planned as a housewife. I tried focusing on the beauty that comes in the unexpected. Like when my father noticed her from across a bar. The two hadn’t been what the other was looking for but the two turned out to be just what the other needed. They complemented each other in the most beautiful broken symmetry. She wanted to be needed and he needed to be loved. I wanted so much to impart how much they each loved the other. Even when things seemed so rough. They held onto each other ever tighter and merged that brokenness into a whole.
And with each of these drafts I had to mention her dedication to her job. She started working at State Farm in 1964 and stayed there until she was forced into early retirement in 2005. She would have kept working to this day if she had had the opportunity. Her work gave her such a sense of importance and held so much of her identity. Even when words and thoughts were difficult for her to convey she would somehow manage to talk of her 40 years of work.
And then most importantly I could not leave out how much she had wanted me. But that one was difficult for me to write. I never could include that in any of my drafts. I felt like it took the spotlight away from her and onto me. But I know she wouldn’t have been upset at that, because I was what she had wanted. While I may not have turned out entirely as she had planned, her and my father both never missed an opportunity to tell me how much I was wanted. Or to share how much they loved me, how proud they were of my accomplishments and my sense of self.
But try as I may in each version of this eulogy I could not capture who my mother was. She was so much more than just anecdotes or bullet points. She was love made human. Any would have known that the moment they met her. She may have been shy, but it was only because her love was so great she was worried that it would be dismissed.
I will leave you with some of the words that inspired her:
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says “love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”