My beautiful mother lost her battle with a very long-fought illness (Cortico Basal Ganglionic Degeneration) on December 26th, 2013. Her whole family surrounded her on Christmas to say our last goodbyes. We know she waited for us to all be there with her. She was gone the next day.
As is the case with anyone watching a loved one go through a long illness, we could never have been prepared to lose her but we know she is finally free.
When she was told of her fate many years ago, she was asked if she would be interested in talking about donating her brain to research. Without hesitation, she said yes. She was quick to add that if anyone else could be saved and not have to go through what she was about to, she would do it without question. The research team of doctors at the Neurological Institute in NYC have her brain now and will be using it to discover new things and hopefully start to find a cure for a rare disease they don’t know enough about yet. Even in her death, she is giving to others. That was just her way.
We celebrated her life with a beautiful memorial service Saturday, January 4th.
My family was so blessed to see all the love in that church. It was wonderful.
I spent days with feelings and words on my heart. I wasn’t sure exactly how to express what I was feeling about mom and wanted to take my time to do it justice.
I gave the eulogy at her service and I wanted to share it with those who weren’t able to be there. I want to share her with you. Whether you knew my mom or not, I want you to meet her. She was one of the most beautiful people I have ever known, in every way.
And I will do anything to carry her legacy on in a way that would continue to stand for what was important to her.
One of the last things she was able to to say to me besides a confirmation in sounds that she loved me was when I asked her if she was proud of me. She answered me with a very clear and very loud “YES.”
I carry that with me in everything I do and the person I want to continue to become. It is with every ounce of my being that I want to be my best self for the world. It is what mom taught us.
It is who she always gave us.
I will miss her terribly. Even though she wasn’t really “here” with us for some time now, not being able to go hold her hand when it was all I had left with her makes my missing her grow deeper.
I hold her in my heart now. I always will.
The following is the eulogy I shared yesterday.
I invite you to meet my beautiful mom, Marilyn:
My attempts to find the right words to share you in just these few minutes was harder to do than anything I have ever written or said.
So I asked my sisters and brother to give me one word that best describes you to them. And while we can’t possibly thank you for everything in just a few words, What we came up with is a thank you for what you gave us and who you taught us to become.
These are our five words:
1. Amazing. Mom, even in the face of adversity and hardship, you never flinched and you never backed down when it came to what you were passionate about. Your children, your husband, your love of humanity, your God, your yearning to fight for those who couldn’t fight for themselves. Your calm nature in the face of fear and your ability to give when all others had turned their backs. You loved the underdog and often times you were one. Your passion for life left us in awe of you. You didn’t always have the life you deserved, but you handled the negative with grace and with pureness of heart. You were and always will be amazing in all ways and in every way.
2. Loyal. You were the epitome of follow through. Your word always meant something. You trusted until you were given a reason not to. And you gave the same in return. To your children, your husband, and those who put their trust in your hands, knowing you would never break it. You were a confidant of the highest regard, you were the one that people wanted to share with. You always knew when to just sit and hold us as we cried. You knew when to talk and when to listen. And You knew exactly what to say when you did. You were as loyal as they come.
3. Strong. After losing your first husband when you were 24, mother of two young girls and pregnant with the third, raising five headstrong kids, living the role of the wife of a priest and later Bishop, waiting for retirement and then ending up living with a long, drawn out horrendous disease that eventually took your ability to do anything for yourself. You lived twice as long as the average with this illness and even after a bought with pneumonia 4 years ago, the dr said your heart was stronger than most he has seen. HE was right. Your heart was strong. The strength you showed as you navigated through these last 12 years was a testament to who you were deep inside. You radiated a strength we are proud to have seen and only hope to emulate.
4. Stylish. You loved nice things. Your home was always beautiful. We would watch as you walked around and looked at each painted tea cup you owned, and examined stacks of books on the coffee table that were laid in just the right way. Your linens always ironed perfectly, your lace always draped on tables at the exact right angle. Your love of all things that made you pause and reflect was beautiful to watch. You always cared how you looked and never left your bedroom without lipstick in your pocket. You knew how to throw a party, how to light the Cherries jubilee so they burned perfectly and decorated the dining room table right out of a magazine. You never left anything out. Your attention to detail and your ability to see beauty in everything you looked at was something we watched and admired. You were style captured in everything you did and everything you touched.
5. Love. You gave love with everything you were. You received love in any way we gave it. And without question, you were love. In every way, you wanted to love the most unlovable in people and situations. You gave. You never shut anyone out. You loved, even in the face of hardship and disagreement. You loved anyway. You taught us there is no other love greater than the unconditional love you embraced us with. Even with all we threw at you, you continued to love deeply and truly. Your love never wavered. You always told us there was nothing any of your kids could do that would make you love us any less. We felt it even when you couldn’t tell us. Even when the words were no longer there, we felt it in the spirit you wrapped around us.
You never walked away from an opportunity to share love with a stranger. To reach out to someone who was in need you may have never even met. You loved your family deeply. You loved your husband passionately. You loved your God definitively.
You gave us all of this and more. And as we let you go as a physical presence in our lives, you will never leave us. You have loved us well. You have taught us well. We will be ok. And we can rest easy knowing you are finally free.
Go and decorate the heavens as beautifully as you did the earth. And when we see those beautiful sunsets we will know you are once again creating your magic. You fly with angels now. And without a doubt, you are the most beautiful of them all.
Until we meet again, you will be here in our hearts, and in our thoughts and deep in our souls forever. Your legacy will live on in each of us.
And we will love you always.
Amber, Judy, Rebecca, Timothy and Jennifer.