Monday, July 2, 2012

My Mom's Eulogy

My Mom and Mills.  They had a real connection.

This is for all of my friends, and family, who could not make it to my Mom's funeral.  I know who you are.  Some of you were there, physically, and some of you made it possible for me to keep going, through texts or voicemails, or calls.  Some of you are new friends, and some old.  This is for you, and for anyone who has ever lost a parent...because once you go through what I have recently gone through, you are never the same, and you become part of this "club" of people who have lost a parent, which no one wants to be a member of, but you have that connection, just the same.

Here is the eulogy that I gave for my Mom, and I could not have gotten through it without my Dad and my Husband.  Apparently, I am a much better writer, than I am a public speaker.

"First and foremost, I would like to thank everyone who has supported my Dad and my Husband and I during this difficult time.

Each night of the past week, we would retire to my Mom's patio and discuss the days events, or the future, or make decisions about how we planned to handle certain things, or just talk in an attempt to feel normal, again.

I, personally, have struggled with the idea of eulogizing my Mom for months, because I kept approaching it, as a summary , like some sort of term paper - and it was entirely too overwhelming and daunting for me.

And then one night, when my Dad and my Husband had gone to bed, it dawned on me that the only way to truly memorialize my Mom was to do it from MY perspective, while focusing on specific events to illustrate who Jody was as a person.

I decided to break it out into categories:  Her family, Her friends, Animals, University of Kentucky basketball, Shopping, and Disney World.

In my mind, this is the only way to tackle this huge task, so if I leave something out, I apologize in advance.

A common theme through each of these categories is my Mother's sense of humor.  I think the strain of humor that I most identified with, was of the inappropriate nature.  I promise that I will try to filter each of these stories, so as to not embarrass her Church, and her grandchildren.

Disney World - My immediate family and I went o Disney World every year for summer vacation.   This may seem odd to some, but it is part of my history, so I am nostalgic about it, and when my Mom was able to share it with her grandchildren, she was positively radiant.

Well, the last time we went, our new labrador blew my knee out, chasing another dog around our yard, a few weeks before the trip, so my Mom and I had matching motor scooters to get around the parks.

One day, we were tooling around, and she stopped and motioned me to pull up next to her, and she brought to my attention this kind of overgrown teenager, who had clearly just exited the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique.

She was about 16-years-old (which is maybe 8 years older than the typical patron), and her hair was pulled tightly in a bun, with makeup and sparkles running down her face, in the sweltering heat.  She was in a full adult sized Cinderella costume, and was gnawing on a gigantic turkey leg, sitting on a bench, in Frontierland.  We howled with laughter.

The irony in this story is that there was undoubtedly another Mother/Daughter duo in the crowd, elbowing each other at the sight of us, side by side, in our rented motor scooters, soaked to our underwear, fresh from the Log Fume ride, stopping to take a sip from our Diet Cokes.

Shopping- No one, and I mean , no one could justify a purchase like my Mother could.  I have three girls, and the store, Janie and Jack, was able to be publicly traded on the New york Stock Exchange because of my Mother, alone.  I'll tell you, when my Mom and I, and the girls, would walk into Janie and Jack, it was as if the Royal Family had stopped into a London pub to enjoy a pint.

She was a serious collector, too, - snow globes, Madame Alexander dolls, pill boxes - you name it.  If there was some obscure connection to one of these categories - it was represented in some way in each of her collections.  It gave her great joy to collect things, and my children enjoyed her collections as much as she did.

Another theme here, is that there was a part of my Mom that was childlike, in a way, and that is why she had such a strong connection with her grandchildren.

Kentucky Basketball - My Dad and my Mom took back to back trips to Atlanta and New Orleans this Spring,when Kentucky won the National Championship  When she got back, and really on the way home, really was the beginning of her physical decline.  I was livid.  She wanted to talk to me about her great handicapped seats, and I was having NONE of it.

I was not the only person who loves her, who felt that way.  Well, one night this past week, while we were on the patio, as I have mentioned had become our ritual, my Dad told me that they had had a huge fight when she insisted that they go to both games.

He told us that he consented only when she told him that she knew that she would not be alive to see another Tournament, let alone a Championship, and so he took her.  

I guess what I am trying to say here, is that she knew who she was, and what she likes, and many people go an entire lifetime without really knowing themselves, and I admire that.  In my mind, understanding yourself is a huge strength.

Animals - Growing up my Mom was crazy about her horse, and Rexy, her dog.  I believe that her love for the two of them, set the stage for her pervasive love of animals that wold last her entire life.

At the end, she would talk about various animals she had throughout her life, and even claimed to spend time with some, as she began to fade.

In her most lucid moments, we would talk about the various animals we had, growing up, and the human characteristics they each had, when they were a part of our family.  I would often refer to her as "Dr. Dolittle" because she was always "communicating" with some animal at the zoo she often frequented with my girls, or saving some wounded varmint she rescued in our yard.

Friends - I learned how to be a good friend, and how to choose my friends by watching my Mom's interactions with her closest pals.

Any parent will tell you that it is not what you say, but what you do, that makes the biggest impact on your children, because, believe me, they are always watching.

All of my closest friends have huge hearts, and are an absolute BALL to be around.  I can trust them, and they don't judge me, and they accept me for exactly who I am, and I can say the same about very single one of my Mom's friends, as well.

God bless you all for being here in my absence, and I will be grateful to you all forever.

Family - I think it's obvious through this eulogy, what my Mom means to me and my children, and my husband.

Her relationship with my Father is the real love story.

For the last several months, I traveled back and forth from Columbus to Louisville and truly, I would cry all the way home each time I left.  But, I was able to go back to my children and my life there, with it's distractions and joys, where my Father did not.

He has been in the trenches, here in Louisville, tirelessly attending to my Mom's every need.  He has shown me what love and true strength is, and now my Husband in this last week, has been a shadow of these characteristics.

I want everyone to know that as difficult as this last week has been, I would not trade it for anything in the World.

My Mom was happier for a few days, than she had been in a long time.

As the dialysis treatments and the ventilator fell away, we had some of the best conversations we had ever had, in our entire lives.

My Dad and my Husband and my Mom's friends, and my in-laws, and of course, my girls and I, are closer that we have ever been in our entire lives.  I can only thank my Mom for that.

There is a silver lining to every tragedy, and I am so lucky to have found mine.  I only hope that you can all find yours, too.

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