Eulogy for Mother
It is hard for me to believe she’s gone, my primary influence, sustainer, supporter and wisest counselor has left me physically. Mother was such an active participant in this world right to her very last breath. I am so grateful to have been with her on her last day. At his point she was struggling to form words and get them out, but her mind was alert, caring and compassionate. She was still worried about me, a mother to the end.
During our conversation I mentioned that when I left her I was going to have dinner with my cousin Alison
and friend Keith and she told me, albeit with some degree of difficulty, to VAMOOSE. She wanted me to be off enjoying myself. We had a wonderful visit talked about upcoming events in both our lives. I asked her if she was discouraged and she replied, “no”, a trooper to the end. I left her feeling optimistic, not aware that I had given her, her last kiss
. What an honor!
I have never had any trouble singing my mother’s praises. My friends and family know that I always appreciated and admired her. I never hesitated to include her in my activities or gatherings, knowing full well that she would probably be the most interesting person there. A testament to this was the wide variety of age groups and people she had as friends.
Very few people knew mum’s age, and this was for a very good reason. She felt if people knew her age they might just write her off, as simply another older lady, those of us who knew her never made that mistake. She was so adamant about keeping her age a secret that she wouldn’t let me throw her an 80th birthday party
for that would clearly let the obvious out of the bag.
Mum was first and foremost our mother, a job she took very seriously, we were always her primary concern and like most mothers she continued her watch right up to the end. One of her expressions was, “you didn’t grow up by accident you know!” At first I didn’t know quite what this was supposed to mean… but I came to know that this meant she had devoted her life to our stewardship and she had worked hard to instill her values and qualities.
Her most notable qualities were her fierce loyalty to all of her family, her personal poise, elegance, grace, talents and wisdom. Mum was forever a student and thankfully, I think I can speak for all her children, when I say she blessed us with her curiosity and thirst for learning. She considered the CBC to be her personal university. She knew more about current affairs and the issues of the day than most. Because of her keen personal interest in all things, she wasn’t great at hiding her surprise when I would tell her I didn’t know anything about something or other! She expected all to be as interested in everything as she was, at times a tough act to follow. She was a remarkably intelligent woman. And sense of humor… well she had one of the driest wits in the land, a very funny woman! And it seemed to me this gift got keener as she aged. She had the canny ability to drop a word or phrase at just the right moment that would crack everyone up or illustrate just how with it she was. She was a master at the comedic value of good timing.
Mother loved her cooking and entertaining as well. She started at an early age with her Betty Crocker Cook Book making her delicious desserts for her entire family. Her love of cooking was I believe an extension of her artistic gift. We were always instructed to look at the plate as an artistic offering, no drips on the edges, arrange the vegetables to be pleasing, not two green or white vegetables side by side. She set high standards for us with her wonderful cooking and elegant hostessing skills.
Mother never left the house without taking the time to make herself presentable- her presentable was my gorgeous. And she only seemed to become more elegant and gracious as the years passed.
We also grew up with Florence the artist and musician. How lucky can you be to grow up surrounded by her art and to wake up in the morning to hear mum playing one of her favorite hymns or musical selections on the piano. Her grandchildren were serenaded from early ages by grandma on the piano too.
Mother the artist encouraged us to look at the world through her artistic eyes. An eggplant, (one of her favorites), or a shinny apple became magical as she would point out the lights and shadows and the myriad of colors she could see in what we only moments before had thought was simply an apple. Through her eyes and her canvasses we discovered the subtle gradations of color that separated her beautiful mountains from the horizon. Who knew the mountains were purple and pink? Well sure enough, if you looked long enough you would see it too. She gave me this gift of heightened awareness, to look and appreciate the beauty and wonder of all that surrounds us. This gift has and will continue to sustain me more than she could ever have known.
Mother was also a remarkably wise counsel. She surprised me over and over with her balanced thoughtful advice. Why was I surprised? Because as one of my staunchest supporters, which she was, you expected her to fall in line right behind you and see it all your way. To her remarkable credit she gave loving thoughtful and very balanced advice. I would like to think this was also a result of the very honest and open and strong relationship we shared.
Her energy for life was boundless, she was aggravated by her visual problems but nothing stopped her. I can remember talking with her on the phone and she would tell me she’d been to the reading club, played the organ at the church, gone to Montreal to host a luncheon at the Arts Club and that she and dad were off to hear Roberta Bondhar at the Canadian Club. I would hang up and ask myself what I had done of interest lately and draw the obvious conclusion that she was living a more stimulating life than I was. Her interest and determination to attend all these functions and stay connected with her many wonderful friends kept her young and vital.
Mother the Font, if I needed to know the meaning of some obscure word or expression I would call mum. As recently as last year, Emma asked me for an idea for a school project and I said, “call Grandma, she’ll have some good ideas.” Even my friends would say call your Mum, she’ll know and she usually did.
Her gifts, unwavering love, support and humor. Her talents, an outstanding cook, wonderful musician, and fine artist. “Yes Mum, I know clearly now that I didn’t grow up by accident.” As the days, weeks and years pass I know my gratitude for these gifts will only grow.
You will always be my loving mother, my dearest friend. This is only a goodbye to your elegant dignified, worldly body. Your gifts will continue to sustain me until we meet again. I love you my darling mum. Thank you so much for being you.
I have some very important ‘thank yous’ to extend; first to Dr. Smith, mum’s eye doctor, he took care of mum as if she was his own mother; and to Micheline, who gave Mum her much needed independence by providing her with transportation to get around. This in turn allowed her to continue to live in her home surrounded by the people and things she loved. Thank you both. And “thank you” to all of you here for being such wonderful friends, it was all of you that helped to keep her so vital and happy right to the end.