Last Saturday, May 11, 2013, I attended my mother’s funeral and gave this short eulogy.
I will start with an apology. I hope to make it through this without crying. There is a reason husbands, sons and daughters are not encouraged to give eulogies; we don’t always make it through them. Never-the-less I am going to talk because if there is one thing my mother loved it was talking to her children, her family and her friends. I have probably spent more time talking to my mother than any other person. Many of you here today have fond memories of talking to my mother. She always engaged with relish, gusto, enthusiasm, intelligence, wit and most importantly respect.
My mother treated everyone with respect. She had only one class: human being, and we were all invited in. Of course mom was aware of social standing, rank, professional achievements and all the other distinctions we sort ourselves with but she wasn’t going to treat you differently just because you’re the CEO of an oil company or shot par on the Old Course, and, in Mr. T’s immortal words, “I pity the man,” and it was usually a man, that expected her to fawn over such trivialities. If I where to design a coat of arms for mom it might say Bane of Bullshitters – in Latin of course.
I loved talking with mom and her words shaped me in ways that I am still discovering. Of all my teachers she was the greatest. She laid my moral keel with reason. She always provided good reasons for me to stop being a moron and seldom resorted to the, “because I’m you’re mother,” edict. After learning of mom’s illness I have spent a lot of time thinking about her. I vainly thought I might go through my memories and craft a biggest hits montage. Where do we get such dumb ideas? Every nook and cranny of my mind is filled with mom. My best qualities are largely her doing — my worst — well, that’s my own work. I will never separate out mom because so much of who I am is due to her. Mom is gone but she lives on in the people she influenced.
A few days ago Sharon, an old friend of my sister Aileen, sent us a message about my mom. Aileen, Sharon and my mom basically hung out when Aileen and Sharon were teenagers. This is some of what she wrote:
I remember Evelyn as a beautiful, extremely intelligent, witty and gracious woman. I am honored to have known her in my younger years, when she accepted me into her family and her heart as if I were another daughter. Those times that I spent visiting with Evelyn and the whole family sharing adventures with them in Scotland, Denmark, Barbados and lastly Frank and Evelyn’s 50th anniversary celebration in Toronto at the Royal York Hotel are forever etched in my memory as special highlights in my life.
When Evelyn said goodbye to me at the end of that evening in Toronto, over ten years ago, she gave me a hug and said, “Have a good life Sharon.” I’ve never forgotten her words of good wishes and love and they have stayed close to my heart over all of these years
Thank you Evelyn, your wishes and loving spirit followed me and yes, I have been fortunate to have a good life. You were one of the person’s who I looked up to with admiration when I was younger and wanted to be something like you. Although I could never be as good as you, haven’t lived the life of high adventure and I haven’t been the world explorer and traveller that you were, I was deeply influenced by you. I always wanted to be someone who wasn’t afraid to try new things, wanted to be adaptable, wanted to experience the world, examine the world, understand different cultural and geographic perspectives, know things that you just don’t learn staying in one’s own back yard, and embrace the whole world in all of its idiosyncrasies and wonderful beauty. You led me to those desires and I think my life has been better because of you. I always loved your wittiness, humor and intelligent perspective and enjoyed our many talks about almost everything. You were like a mother, but even better!
I’d like to think that people who really got to know my mother feel the same as Sharon.
Ours is a culture of things. We’re not encouraged to think about the people in our lives as our most precious gifts but at the end of a life our things do not matter. What matters: who we love, and who loves us! Mom loved all of us and that’s why we all love her. Good bye mom.