Thursday, July 18, 2013

In Memory of Mom

We will head up to Georgia in the morning for Mom's memorial service on Saturday.  My brother will read a poem, my sister will read a bible verse and I will give a speech.  Mom had already picked out the songs and asked to have a balloon release at the end of the service.  Let me know what you think of the speech.  It is still a work in progress.

I had the honor of sitting with Mom during the last few weeks of her life.  Even though she was not able to say much during that time, I had the privilege of meeting people and through them seeing my Mom through a new set of eyes.  Though each story was different, they all carried a common theme.  They told me how determined she was to beat her disease and how inspired they were by her courage and strength.  

Right before I left the hospital with Mom to transfer to hospice, I talked to her nurses who had gotten to know her during her stay in the hospital, they told be of how bravely she sat in her hospital bed wearing a pink hat facing the most terrifying news with determination to continue to fight.  But they also told me that even then she shared stories and pictures of her grandchildren and how proud she was of her family.  Without fail, each nurse asked the same question, are you Zac's mom?  No ma'am I'd say, I'm the other daughter, and without pause, they would all rattle off the names of my children.  Mom had shared her stories with them, and listened to theirs.  Even though she was so sick, she was still making the personal connections that characterized her life.  

During her last few years, Mom came to live in Barnesville.  As it turns out, most of those years were spent battling the cancer that eventually took her life.  As I sat with her, friends from Sunday school and pastors from church came to visit and they all told me a similar tale; your mom inspired me, they said, with her determination and with her faith.  Though she hadn’t know them for long, they told me what a big impact she had their lives.  They all wanted to know what they could do to help, and I tried to let them know how much their assistance, companionship and prayers had meant to Mom during the last few years.  Though it is difficult to express, finding this community of friends was critical to Mom at a difficult point in her life.  

Then there were the friends from JC Penny's and Ulta who came to say goodbye, and though it was so difficult for them to see her that way, they came to let her know what an impact she had on their lives.  She had mentored them, taught them, shared her stories, and learned theirs.  Even after she stopped working, she stayed in contact with them and kept those relationships going.  That was the kind of life Mom led, forming relationships with people that had a lasting impact on their lives and on hers. With tears in their eyes they let her know that having her in their lives had changed them in significant ways. 

Though it seems like a long time ago, there was a time before she was sick when Mom was a successful career woman.  Several years ago when she won a contest at work called personal best, I was lucky enough to stay with her at the Gaylord Palms hotel in Orlando.  I met Mom's bosses and co-workers, who all told a similar tale.  I am so proud to work with your mom they said. She is such an inspiration in the way she dedicates herself to her job.  Then they all asked the same question.  Are you Zac's mom?  No, I would say, I'm the other daughter, and again, they knew about my family, and my children's names.  They had seen pictures and heard stories and though we had never met, they hugged me as if I were an old friend.  Then they would tell me that they were praying for Zac. They had his picture on their bulletin boards at work or at church and they were all saying prayers for him.  They were all saying prayers for a little boy they had never met because they were inspired by the stories my mom had shared.  

Before she was a successful career woman, Mom spent years as a single mother.  Though I could not see it at the time, years later when I became a parent myself, I began to understand what a struggle it must have been for her to raise us into the competent adults that we are today.  Even with the constant effort and care of two loving parents, the day-to-day challenges of raising children can seem daunting.  Each time my husband goes out of town on business I have a new respect for the years that my mom spent raising us on her own.  How lonely it must have been with just small children as company for someone who loved people as much as Mom. 

Mom moved around a lot, it seemed as if she were constantly reinventing herself, but through each new version of her that I saw, the most important core remained.  She lived a life where personal connections with people kept her going.  I like to say that Mom never met a stranger, and each time she moved to a new city, a new job or a new house, she knew, almost immediately, the names and stores of all of the people she came across. From the lady at the bank to the man who sold her stamps, Mom knew the stories of the people around her.   She took the time to make connections with them because she truly cared about people and wanted to know more about them. 

Mom was something different to so many people,
Single mother
Proud grandmother
Loving Wife
Coworker
Boss
Friend
Mentor
Inspiration

Speaking wasn't easy for mom at the end, but she said two things that I will never forget, first she said, “I love you so much”, she didn’t want to go without reminding those of us that she left behind how much she truly cared for us.  Then she said to me, “I'm not scared”.  She knew that even though she was leaving this life, that the one she had ahead was so much better.  And though she left us far too soon, she left us all richer for the having had the privilege of being a part of her life.  She left a lasting impression that will carry on through her husband, friends, coworkers, children and grandchildren. 
And so, though it is difficult to say good-bye, I hope we will all leave today with a renewed strength and determination.  With a new appreciation for the positive impact we can have on the lives others by simply reaching out and caring about each person we meet.  

34 comments:

Gail said...

What a lovely way to remember your Mother. I had to write my Mother's obituary several years ago and I know how hard it is to put pen to paper and describe a person whose presence in your life will always be missed. I have tears in my eyes for you (and maybe for me.) Blessed be.

Suzy said...

What a beautiful remembrance. I'm crying here, and also remembering writing mine for my husband's passing almost 3 years ago. Rest assured, she IS in a better place and one day you will again be reunited with your loving and giving Mom. Hugs to you and your family during this difficult time.

Vroomans' Quilts said...

You did a lovely job, blessings to you and your family.

sunny said...

What a beautiful tribute. I wish I had known your Mom! So sorry for your loss.

Deb A said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. You wrote a wonderful tribute to your Mom. You are very lucky to have had her and she was very lucky to have you. Hugs.

Terri said...

That was beautiful. I'm sure your Mom will be very pleased. My daughter died last January from cancer, and I recognize her in some of your speech. I'm so sorry for your loss, and mine.

I would look at the sentence that isn't one....
But they also told me that even then she shared stories and pictures of her grandchildren and how proud she was of her family.

It's not right somehow.
Hugs,

Sherry said...

I know your mom would be very happy with your tribute to her. And you have conveyed your message quite beautifully. My continued prayers for you and your family.

Ellen said...

You have written such a lovely, heart-felt tribute to your Mom. I am so sorry for your loss - you obviously loved her as much as she loved you.

Jean(ie) said...

Hugs. I'm glad you to had a chance to be together before she went. May you find peace.

Sheila said...

I am so sorry, Angela. Your words are beautiful. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers this weekend.

Carla A Few Of My Favorite Things said...

Beautiful reflection of your mom, so sorry for your loss!

Jennifer (Recovering Perfectionist) said...

First, I'm so sorry for your loss. Your mom sounds like a wonderful person, and it's just so tragic that there are diseases that can rob so many of years of their lives. Second, the eulogy is wonderful. Tinker with it if you like, but I wouldn't change a thing.

Amy said...

Oh Angela; although we have never met, please know that I am deeply deeply saddened by your loss. Your words are beautiful and bring tears to someone who never knew your mother. By reading them, however, I can clearly see how much she loved her family and how amazing of a woman she was.
My thoughts are with you. (HUGS!)

BillieBee (billiemick) said...

So sorry you lost your Mom. It is wonderful that others were able to share the stories about your Mom.

Margaret said...

It's a lovely tribute. I had to do the same for my mother, aged 87, in January 2004. I miss her still, and your words remind me...

May you always have happy memories...and may God be with you and your family at this time.

Hugs across cyber-space!

Quilter Kathy said...

What a wonderful tribute to a very special person. You were so lucky to have such an inspiring Mom. I'm so sorry to hear of her passing. Sending you quilty hugs.

Angie said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Angela. I hope the happy memories of your mom and family times together sustain you as you mourn.

Amanda said...

Perfect. Losing your mother is the hardest thing, and I also found that writing my thoughts down to be read at her funeral helped me enormously. When the time came for me to read out my thoughts I found it so hard, but I've never regretted that I was able to do it.

Judy D in WA said...

What a special tribute to your mother. Hugs to you and your family.

sara said...

I am so sorry for your loss.
Hugs

Teresa in Music City said...

Angela, your speech brought tears to my eyes, and a sadness that I never had the opportunity to meet your mom. It sounds as though she was one of those truly remarkable people who knew how to be present to the others who shared that life with her - so rare these days!!! I can't imagine the loss you are feeling right now - to have had a treasure and then lose it is devastating. But of course you know that you will have that treasure again one day, and she will be the most beautiful she has ever been, and your love will never be separated again!

I am so sorry that you are having to go through this time of sorrow my friend, but please know that my prayers go with you, lifting you up and filling your life with our Father's comfort.

Sarah said...

It is a beautiful tribute to what sounds like a beautiful person. My thoughts are with you and your family.

katie z. said...

I am praying for you as you face the enormity of your loss (I can only imagine).

Your speech brought tears to my eyes. Your mother was a wonderful woman.

ANudge said...

What a beautiful tribute. My deepest sympathy for the loss of your mom.

Kathy's A Quilter said...

I heard something last night that I would like to share, we celebrate the life lived and mourn the future lost. We don't know what the future holds for any of us, but YOU know what kind of life and inspiration your mother provided for you, your family and community. God bless you in the days ahead. My most profound sympathies to you and your family.

Cathy said...

My condolences on the loss of your mother. Your tribute to your mother brings tears to my eyes. You are so lucky to have had such a wonderful woman for your mother.

Karen said...

What a lovely tribute to your mother. Just reading this makes me wish I had meet your mother. I am so sorry for your loss. May you be comforted by knowing your mother was loved by many people. I will keep your family in my prayers.

Julie in GA said...

Angela, my deepest sympathies to you and your family on the loss of your mother. Your speech is absolutely beautiful, a wonderful tribute to her.

Sew Shabby Designs said...

Very touching! Iam sending my sympathy from Indiana to your family during this time of loss. God Bless!

Deb@asimplelifequilts said...

What a lovely tribute Angela and I'm so sorry for your loss.

Kate said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Your speech is a beautiful tribute.

Amy said...

Angela,
I am so sorry for your loss.
Amy

waqas farooq said...
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Elly D said...

Oh Angela, I am so sorry for your loss. You wrote a beautiful tribute to your mum, so beautiful. HUGS! from Scotland