Mom,On Saturday, I stopped by the cemetery to bring flowers and visit with you, but it seemed you were not there. I said my prayers that evening and spoke to you, but was not sure I had your ear. I discussed your absence with Wanda and reminisced about our lives with you, but did not feel you join our conversation. Then on Mother’s Day morning I thought about and prayed for Dad, and there you were. I should have known that would be where I’d find you. That’s where you have always been; there was never just Mom or just Dad, always the two of you. And even after you’d gone, I saw you there. When Dad was hurt and stayed with us a few weeks, I felt you here with us as well.Happy Mothers Day Mom. I miss you so much, but now I remember where to find you. Love, Chris
I cannot allow this date to pass without a remembrance entry.
IT NEVER ENDS!
Lenore had heard these words December 17 from Helen, and she knew this was true because “her mom had said so.” Now her dad says it too.
Years ago, at St. Jude’s hospital the night before Mom was to have open heart surgery, I said something to her when I kissed her goodnight that I shouldn’t have said. It was true and I meant it, but still I shouldn’t have said it. I don’t think she answered me when I said “Don’t leave me, YOU CAN NEVER LEAVE ME.” Later I was ashamed of myself, what a selfish thing it was for me to say. Even though I felt that way, I thought it many many times again but I never said it out loud to her again. At least I don’t think I did.
Last summer, as I sat snuggled up on the couch with Mom, I found myself saying it over and over again in my head and I started to cry. Mom wanted to know what I was thinking about. At first I wasn’t going to tell her but then I thought it might be a good time to apologize for what I had said. I’m surprised she could even understand me, I barely got a few words out before I was crying so hard I could barely breathe.
Through my tears I told her how sorry I was for making her worry about me at a time like that. I told her it was the most selfish thing I’d ever done. I asked her if she remembered and if she would forgive me and you what she did? She laughed! Just kind of a soft laugh, but she laughed… and said “Oh Lenore, I’m never going to leave you.” And she meant it.
Isn’t it interesting that Dad was thinking essentially the same thing today… It Never Ends.
For as long as it took me to write this memory, it was actually just one of so many things running through my head as I watched the DVD. I’ll share just one other, a question really. I was wondering if, in heaven, Mom’s gets to go back and actually be in some of those moments again, the ones that we long for as we watch them in movies or see them in photos… The times that feel like the happiest days of our lives and we had so many.
On October 15, 2007 I wrote a remembrance of Helen titled “Living A Life Of Love”. On October 17, 2007 Helen slipped quietly into God’s waiting arms. The last paragraph of my remembrance was:
When Helen passes on to be with God, I am absolutely sure He will welcome her with open arms. In Heaven she will find a continuing life of love where she will enjoy reuniting with those who have passed on before her and watching over all of us that remain on this earth living with her loving memory.
A year since her passing and I can say with absolute certainty that Helen has been watching over all those She loved and held dearly. During this first year without Helen, we have all experienced a world of emotions. So many times there have been moments when Helen has entered my thoughts or I have reflected on how Helen would have felt about or handled a situation. I have laughed aloud by myself when I do something that we used to laugh about together.
The person I believe She is watching over the most is Her beloved Henry. Her continuing Love from above has given him the strength to carry on. I believe Helen must be at peace knowing Henry has relocated close to several of his children (can’t help thinking that was her doing) and remains continually active with his business.
I pray for all those whose lives have been touched by Helen and who will be remembering her tomorrow with Love, Happiness and Joy at having been privileged to know Her.
With love and God’s Blessings,
This beautiful quilt was made with love for Helen by the dear friends in her prayer group: Doris, Eileen, Loretta and Donna.
I asked Mimi to post this picture of the Healing Quilt which was created, sewn, and gifted to Helen by a group of loving ladies called the Prayer Group. They completed it about three years ago when Helen was undergoing Chemotherapy, and she blanketed herself with it during each treatment.
It carries the names of each of our children and grandchildren, each of the Quilt contributors, and a number of pictures and words that symbolized events and places Helen and I loved.
I offer my eternal thanks to these beautiful ladies whose prayers I firmly believe extended Helen’s life. Their close friendship dating back fifty years brought joy to Helen and me.
This Quilt is so precious a legacy that I’ve already passed it onto my five daughters. They are now taking turns displaying it. Each six months possession rotates from one home to another.
A few years ago I gave Mom a little box that held index cards I had personalized with her name. Apparently she continued to use the box to keep quotes she liked, story ideas, notes about books she loved or that friends had recommended. Dad asked me if I wanted to bring it home with me. What a little treasure box it turned out to be. I gave it to her filled with blank note cards, and she gave it back to me filled with thoughtful little treasures from her heart. Sometimes, when I want some words of wisdom from my Mom, I’ll open the box and pull out a random card to see “what my Mom wants to say” to me today.
Today, I plucked out this one and found it particularly poignant. I thought I’d share it with all of you on her website. I’m sure she saved it in reference to the book she had written called “Dread Autumn.” (or was it called Firethorn?).
Sorrow and the scarlet leaf,
Sad thoughts and sunny weather;
Ah me! this glory and this grief
Agree not well together.
(T. W. Parsons – A Song for September)
The full text of the poem can be found here. But Mom wrote down just that one short verse.
There is another quote that I found repeated on many cards in this box, and also tucked into several books. This one I find particularly powerful, because she had written it so many times and it was obviously (and very literally) ‘words she lived by.”
I am afflicted, but not crushed;
Perplexed but not despairing;
Struck down but not destroyed.
(2 Corinthians 4)
How strange things still are without Mom. The other day I heard that saying “life goes on.” I hate that saying, mostly I hate that it’s true.
We all go to work, the kids go to school, the weekend comes and goes and we do it all over again, week after week. Now here we are six months later. There is nothing we can do to stop the time that passes without her. It makes me so sad but it also makes me realize nothing has changed about my connection with her. I still can’t manage to make her appear no matter how much I beg her to come. But still I feel as close to her as ever.
Mimi told me something she said to Dad, about not hearing Mom or feeling her presence, and it made perfect sense to me. If Mom would come to us at home and we could see and talk to her… why would life have to go on for us? We could just sit at home and be with her. We’d never have to figure out what to do with our feelings or our lives for that matter. Think about how obsessed we’d become with Her. And we all know, that’s the last thing she wanted. Remember her prayer card “grieve for a while for me if you must, then let your grief be comforted by trust.”
I do trust Her. I know she’s with us. Not in the way we want but in a way that is appropriate, a way that let’s us go on and not be stifled by our grief.
Today Mimi, Patty and I went to the cemetery to have a picnic with Mom. After a little praying and a few tears, it was all girl talk, the four of us. I think Mom liked us just sitting around with her, having a conversation that we’d have had if she was sitting right there in circle we mad around her spot.
I really do get a sense that Mom is happy when we are together enjoying each other’s company. I remember a conversation Mom and I had sitting on the cozy little couch in the apartment. Mom talked about how important it was that the family gather together as often as we do. She said it’s not an easy task to get 30 people together. She said sure, every now and then someone can’t make it, but she was very proud of the effort that we all made to make it happen. I know she felt comforted know that tradition would continue.
I still have a hard time when the whole family gets together, because we are incomplete. Her bright loving face was never lost in the crowd. I still look for her, I feel like she could be around a corner just out of sight.
Still, for now the smaller get togethers are easier for me and I know Mom likes that too. We are so fortunate to have everyone so close by. Mimi and I have always been able to spend time together because we live so close, but we’ve made it a point (the three sisters) to spend more time together and Dad has been coming for Sunday lunches. It reminds me of Sunday lunches with Grand-pop and Nannette. I love the Sundays when Dad makes the hour drive just to have lunch with us.
It so nice to be able to laugh and enjoy the family Mom and Dad created. So, yes life does go on… and you know Mom wants it that way.
Of course all I did was think of Mom today. Whenever I think of her and the things she did and said, I have to smile. It’s only when I think of the rest of us, who can’t bear to be without her, that I cry.
I cry the most for my Dad, who can’t pretend that she’s still here and just an hour away. Every moment of every day I know he feels the loss. I know, no matter how much we love him or how much we want to spend time with him, we can’t fill the space that was Hers. I think of all the times he told me “I still get weak in the knees when I see her face.” It’s something I tell my friends when I want to give them a glimpse of the love they shared. I don’t think anyone, even those of us who lived with their love can comprehend the depth of it… and now, the depth of the loss.
But as Mom made so clear to us in her words and what she had written on the back of her prayer card, it was important to Her that our memories were happy ones. She didn’t spend her life, not even in her last months, being anything but optimistic, grateful, courageous and even happy, to her last days. And what I find most amazing is that she wasn’t faking it for us. That was the real Her. Here are Her exact words from an email (9-3-06), when I had questions about her conversation with God.
Dearest Lenore –
Yes – my darling daughter – you’ve understood. When I mention talking to God to you or any of the other kids I’m hoping to open the door to whatever kind of talk you or they feel ready for. Just remember – I promise never to put on a show, to lie or be “brave” for you. On the phone, in an e-mail, when we are alone or with people. this isn’t the time for that. Ask me anything. My answers may bring tears to your beautiful eyes but I don’t think they will make you sad.
We’ll write or talk more in the coming days and weeks. Heart to heart. I just realized what a beautiful expression that is. My heart to yours.
I love you Lenora. And because you are a mother too, you know how much.
She was happy, she is happy and she wants us to be happy.
We miss her, she misses us and still she wants us to be happy.
I know when I’m able to laugh at things when I talk about her, it makes her laugh too.
I hope she knows how hard I try to be happy more often than sad. I know if I don’t try, she’ll be sad.
I was very happy when I got home from work today. I had received good news from my landlord on a repair I’ve been waiting for for years. As I changed, I recalled Mom asking (throughout the years) if it was done yet. I instictively went to the phone and began to dial. I stopped, looked at the phone. I had dialed Mom and Dad’s number to share with Mom it was finally getting done. I could tell Dad. Not while crying I couldn’t. I heard Mom telling me, “I heard you Patty”. When I finally came out of my room. It was a quiet night.
Don’t know why but I’ve been crying all day. I don’t want to work, I don’t want to go out, I don’t want to be cheered up… I just want my Mom.
But I have to work anyway. Luckily I don’t have to see any clients today, so I can cry. And I do, all day. As I’m working I go to my notes in Entourage to look for something and there I see a note titled “Anyway… from Mom.” Below is the email she wrote on August 5, 2006 and below that is the poem she sent. It’s sooo Mom. It doesn’t have anything to do with why I’m so sad today, but it makes me feel good anyway.
Dear Kiddles -I NEVER forward e-mails that are sent me. I tell friends,”Please don’t ask me to forward messages to 5 (6?10?) deserving people. I DON”T forward.” But – I just had to share this one with all of you. The photos are sweet but it’s the words that – well, see what you think.
Love ya -The Mama
P. S. Dad says I say “Anyway” all the time.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; Success anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of being selfish and having ulterior motives; Be kind anyway.
What you spend years building, some may try to destroy overnight; Build anyway.
If your honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you have anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness they may be jealous; Be happy anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it’s between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway.
I was sitting on my couch this evening listening to one of many ipod playlists when this song came on and once again it brought a smile to my face and tears to my eyes…
Over a year and a half ago I went to a Peter Paul and Mary concert… while I was there Peter Yarrow sang a song I had never heard before. He said he wrote it for a woman who was battling cancer. I tuned in immediately with my Aunt Helen in mind. The song moved me so much tears came to my eyes as he began to sing: “With your face to the wind… I see you smiling again… spirits moving within… I know that you’re going to win…”
Once I heard it, I knew I wanted to share it with her. So I did, and sent it along with a note and package. Now I share it with all of you who miss her so much… hoping it gives you a little comfort as it does for me. Although, true that it makes me cry a little, but it also makes me smile, because every time I listen to it, it makes me think about how privileged I am to have not only known Helen Haddad, but I was part of her family and she kept us all connected. She was a gift we were all given… and I know she is still smiling down on us.
WITH YOUR FACE TO THE WIND*
With your face to the wind, I see you smilin’ again
Spirit’s movin’ within, I know that you’re gonna win
You’ve been down this road before
Somethin’ inside tells you what’s in store
Gotta remember what we’re all here for
Ya gotta eat up the apple and spit out the core
You can get angry, you can curse
You can shout it out in rhyme or verse
And you can tell me that it’s never been worse
Then take that old sows ear and turn it into a purse
There are gifts that come like the rain
They make the plants grow, they drench you all the same
And there are gifts that took you years to see
Like the gift of the friend that you’ve been to me
Yes there are hands here to comfort you
And if you need there are tears to cry with you too
And there are hearts that will sing with you
And voices to cheer when you’ve finally made it through
Sometimes it takes the dark to let us see the light
You can’t have that victory unless you’ve fought the fight
Sometimes it takes a winding road to lead us home
While you’re windin’ ’round my friend just don’t go windin’ ’round alone
*If you are looking to listen to the song. It is on the Peter, Paul, and Mary album entitled: “Flowers and Stones.” It goes by “With your face to the wind”
I think Eileen was asking about this photo, so I thought I would post it here. If you click on the photo is will open up the full size file, which would be more suitable if you wanted to make a print.
We have been calling this “First Holy Communion” but I think Mom looks more grown-up than 7 years old here. Doesn’t she? Could it be her Confirmation? Either way, I think it’s a beautiful photo and Mom looks so lovely.
This photo reminds me of what Matt said in his eulogy, about Mom’s First Communion:
When I was getting ready for my first communion my mom told me how close to God she felt at the time she first took communion. She said she felt God’s love so much, that He was so real, that if she died then (as a 7 year old), that it would be okay because she knew she would be with God. So in a sense I think my mom has been ready for heaven for the last 68 years.
I don’t know where this taken. The scanned file is tagged 63 camping. We seem to be in a cabin … which isn’t technically camping! And 1963 would make me about 2 years old at the time.
Those must be Mom’s sunglasses that Henry is wearing. Cute!
This was from a sponsor thank you letter we received from our cousin, (Helen’s niece) Ann Marie, who raised thousands of dollars for breast cancer research during the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer 3-day walk. I asked her if it would be okay if I posted it to my mom’s website and Ann Marie said she would honored to have it posted here:
On October 12-14, 2007, I took an amazing journey and walked 60 miles over the course of three days for breast cancer research and patient support programs in the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Breast Cancer 3-day. I signed up for the walk in honor of my Aunt Helen, who had battled breast cancer for 10 years. I walked for her and for all women who have fought this battle with the same strength of mind, body, and soul it takes to go through breast cancer. I signed up not realizing what a great effect this walk would have on my life.
Twenty miles a day… and I was ready! We walked through neighborhoods with pink ribbons on their fences. There were people and their children out on their lawns every day and through every neighborhood, cheering us on. Women, men, and children on the side of the road showing their support with home made signs that said “Let’s go walkers” and “Thank you for walking.” Some had signs that told their stories of survival. Others had signs in memoriam of those they have lost to breast cancer. Some were women and men who were going through chemotherapy, thanking every single one of the 2,500 walkers for walking for them. In addition to all the people who were along the route daily, there were also “cheering stations,” which were almost a quarter of a mile long of people surrounding us like we were celebrities, cheering us on and slapping our hands, telling us to keep going with their home made signs, candy, tissues, support, encouragement, and stories.
Over the three-day walk, we had an incredible safety crew inspiring us to keep walking by dancing and singing with us while crossing us at intersections, and cheering us up and down those many, many hills we had to endure. They stayed with us through the last day. With my body telling me I could take no more, I kept walking, knowing that I was walking for those who couldn’t… like my Aunt Helen. At the closing ceremonies, I learned that the 3-day I was involved in, in Atlanta, Georgia, raised $6.6 million dollars for breast cancer research and patient support programs!
My Aunt Helen passed away on October 17, 2007, just days after I completed the Walk for the Cure. The experience had such a powerful impact on me, I have vowed to be involved in the Breast Cancer 3-day every year, in her name, hoping to one day live in a world without breast cancer because “Everyone deserves a lifetime.”
More pictures of Ann’s journey
at the 3-day event can be seen on This Photo Page.
Today it has been two months since I’ve seen my Mom. Never in my life have I gone this long without seeing or speaking to her. In fact, I’m sure I’ve never gone two weeks without her. I don’t know when it starts to get easier but I do know it’s not yet and since Thanksgiving I think it’s actually gotten harder. I suppose that’s not unusual for the holidays to be more difficult.
What surprises me the most is that I feel like I’m looking for her and somehow surprised when she’s not there. She wasn’t at our family Thanksgiving, she wasn’t at the baby shower for her first great grandchild and worst of all she not in my room at night when I call for her. She’s not even at the cemetery.
I do understand death and the finality of it but my heart doesn’t seem to get it. I find myself saying almost daily “how can this be, how can she be gone.” I feel like a little kid who doesn’t understand death, I say out loud to her “Mom, where are you?”
I’ve been expecting her, she told me she’d come to me, she promised. I make deals with her. I tell her, I known you can’t just appear but if I close my eyes and put out my hand let me feel your hand. I loved to hold her hand, so delicate and soft. I wait patiently… Nothing!
About a week ago I stayed in bed much too long on a Saturday morning wanting my Mom. I hadn’t done a bit of Christmas shopping or even put up my tree. When I finally came out of my room I saw boxes of Christmas decoration the family had dug out over a week ago. My first reaction was Bah Humbug, I don’t even want to have Christmas this year, not with out my Mom.
I did however want my Mom to have a tree, so I went out, bought a tree and took it to the cemetery. I stayed longer than I’m sure Mom would have wanted me to. Before I left the cemetery I asked her if she like the tree. I heard in my head “yes, now go home and put up your own tree.” Was that me??? It was my voice, but it sure wasn’t something I felt like doing. But just in case it was Mom, I thought I better get home and put up the tree.
On the way home it occurred to me that Mom might not like what I wrote on the card attached to the tree. I wrote; I don’t know how to do Christmas without you.
A few days later I talked to my dear friend Nancy, who lost both her parents. Like me, Nancy was with her Mom when she passed. I told Nancy about what I heard in my head at the cemetery and she insisted that was my Mom. I wanted to believe her, so I did. But still, it was my voice.
I told my Dad and my sister Mimi, and I’m sure like me they’d like to believe it too… but still, it was my voice. We all want to hear her voice, so very desperately want to hear her beautiful voice.
The night before last I was up alone watching a movie, not talking to myself at all, just half heartily watching a movie, when I was interrupted by a voice in my head, loud and clear! What I heard wouldn’t have made any sense expect for a conversation that was happing on the screen. It startled me and I rewound the movie to hear what they said. I don’t care if you believe me or not, my Mom answers a question that was asked by a character in that movie! I was so happy I cried and laughed… it was my Mom I know it was.
Sorry, I’m not going to tell you what it was. But I’ll tell you this, I heard it again as I began to wake the next morning. The same answer, but it felt like it was to a different question.
Today I saw Nancy again, and I told her about it. I told her this time I’m sure it was my Mom. I told her I wish it were my Mom’s voice, I want to hear her voice. And Nancy, bless her beautiful heart, said “Lenore your Mom speaks through you not to you. She has no physical being any longer, no body to see or touch and no voice to hear.” She also said something to the effect that she’s not in a form we can understand and for now this is her way to reach us.
As I think about my Mom’s words and what Nancy said today, on this the second month anniversary of her death, I know now for sure I found her, she’s here and she told me something very important…
How about this, I’ll tell you Mom’s answer but not the question. The question doesn’t matter, because what she said answers so many questions for me.
The answer is “It never ends.”
I know this is true… Mom said so.
Click to see photo full-size
This is a group of my mom’s friends who got together every month for lunch and writing critique-ing. These dear friends are Cheryl Stark, Phyllis Malcolm and Trish Astbury. Speaking to them over the years (at her home, sometimes during hospital visits and eventually at my Mom’s funeral), it was very clear how much they loved my Mom.
I think they said that they met in a writing class at Cal State Fullerton and began as a study group. They just kept on meeting long after the class was over.
This collection of photos was from a trip they took to Coronado together. This framed collage is from a wall in my mom’s kitchen. I think it was a gift from her friends.
Is this wierd, for me post another photo of the gravesite?
I just thought the combination of flowers that people had left for Mom looked so pretty, that they should adorn her website too.
Well, tomorrow it will be a month since Mom left us. I was feeling pretty sad this morning and happened to come across the prayer card Mom picked out when she was making advance arrangements. While she didn’t write the poem, I’m told that she changed it a little bit to her liking. I read the card today and remembered that these were the words she wanted us to read when we were grieving. I thought I would post it here for anyone who hasn’t read it or might want to read it again:
To Those I Love & Those Who Love Me
When I am gone, release me, let me go
I have so many things to see and do.
You mustn’t tie yourself to me with tears.
Be happy that we had so many years.
I gave you my love. You can only guess
How much you gave me in happiness.
I thank you for the love you each have shown,
But now it’s time I traveled alone.
So grieve a while for me if grieve you must
Then let your grief be comforted by trust.
It’s only for a while that we must part.
So bless the memories with your heart.
I won’t be far away, for life goes on
So if you need me, call and I will come.
Though you can’t see or touch me, I’ll be near
And if you listen with your heart, you’ll hear
All of my love around you soft and clear.
And then, when you must come this way alone,
I’ll greet you with a smile, and “Welcome Home.”
I’m always remembering now, bits of advice that Mom has given me over the years. This one pops into my head a lot lately: At one difficult point in my life, I was talking to my Mom on the telephone and she asked how I was doing. I told her I was doing okay, except that I would get very weepy and down when I listened to one particular song on the stereo. My mom gave me these simple instructions: “Don’t listen to that song anymore.”
Problem solved, I guess! She wasn’t being unsympathetic; just optimistic and practical. It makes me smile every time I think of it. It reminds me of that joke “Doctor, it hurts when I do this…”
The granite marker is now in place and the area is looking better. Weekends are a much more serene time to visit because the tractors and workers are gone.The cemetery has named “streets” throughout the grounds. Here’s how to find mom’s site there:
- From Van Buren, turn into the cemetery at Harmon.
- Turn right at the guard shack on Phillipine Street and take that road till it ends.
- Turn right on Meuse Argonne Ave.
- You will see where the grass ends and the new area is taking shape on the right hand side. Look for section 57B. I would say it’s on the West side of the cemetery.
If you bring any flowers or adornments for the gravesite, be sure to read their rules about what is allowed. They say no vases or potted plants. Today, I tried setting a potted Chrysanthemum plant there, thinking it might last longer than cut flowers. I’ll check back and see if they took it away. Seems to me they might cut the family some slack for awhile, at least until the grass is in. We shall see!
Here’s the first draft of Mom’s obituary that ran in the Orange County Register. The photo actually printed much better in the paper.
This is an email I sent to Mom in January 06 when I heard Mom’s cancer had come back.
I have been trying to make you a card all night but I’m just too inept to get it completed and sent as a card.
Words cannot express my love for you but a poem, I don’t know the author, from the movie “Patch Adams” w/ Robin Williams almost comes close. Maybe I mentioned it to you before:
” I love you,
I love you without knowing how or why or from where,
I love you without pride or complexities,
I LOVE YOU BECAUSE I KNOW NO OTHER WAY THAN THIS, . . .
So close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
So close that when you close your eyes I go to sleep . . . ”
Please God let her be ok!
Helen’s novel, Picture of Guilt, was published in paperback in 2002. It won many awards throughout the years, along with rave reviews.
Even after Helen’s death, our family learned that her book was on a university professor’s recommended reading list.
I am sorry to hear the news. Please accept our condolences. I shared the news with my wife last night. It turns out my wife knows your mother-in-law (by name). Helen’s book is one of the recommended books from her professors.
~ This is the eulogy Matt read at Helen’s funeral. ~
What a great life my mom had. A life full of love. A God honoring life. She grew up with parents and brothers who loved her and she loved them. And her marriage to my dad was an example of what God had in mind when he created marriage. Aunt Dotty described mom & dad’s marriage as a marriage made in heaven. I think that is exactly what it was. God put my mom and dad together. They had the kind of relationship and love for each other that people write novels about. To grow up in a home with parents who adore each other was a wonderful thing. My mom and dad never stopped holding hands, kissing each other, or telling each other they loved them. In these last few months when Mary and I would pray with mom, her first words to God were usually words of thanks to God for giving her my dad. It was a marriage full of love. It was a God honoring marriage.
My mom and dad had six of us kids, with the fifth kid born while the oldest was still 4 years old, and Patty was not too far behind. But even with all those babies, Mom was able to let each of us know we were totally loved. We each did not get 1/6 of Mom’s love. We each got 100 % of Mom’s love. And even with mom giving all that love to her six kids, she continued to give Dad all her love. I had the greatest childhood a kid have. I have the greatest mom a kid could have.
When we started adding to this big family of ours with spouses, grandkids, and even spouses of grandkids, my mom continued to fill our hearts and lives with her love. Mom loved Wanda, Mary, Scott and Gary like her own kids. And Mom adored her grandkids, and I’m sure Derek and Angela felt the same love we all did. I think my mom’s friends would tell you they also shared in her love. The wonderful thing about all this is I know that Mom knew we all loved her too.
Mom was more then just a person to love and a person to be loved by. My mom was a child of God. A woman of God. When I was getting ready for my first communion my mom told me how close to God she felt at the time she first took communion. She said she felt God’s love so much, that He was so real, that if she died then (as a 7 year old), that it would be okay because she knew she would be with God. So in a sense I think my mom has been ready for heaven for the last 68 years. God knew he was going to have Mom with Him for all eternity so He allowed us all to be blessed and loved by her for 75 years. Mom used those 75 years to honor God.
For those of you that might wonder if this living for eternity thing is real, ask yourself this. Don’t you still feel mom loves you? Mom did not stop loving us on October 17, 2007. Mom still loves us. I feel just as loved by mom right now as I did as a child, and as I did a month ago. And I still love her. That is because Mom is alive. She is absolutely alive. She is in Heaven with God. A God who loves her more than we can know. There are a lot of things we don’t know about heaven, but I know it is wonderful. And now I have one more reason to get there. Heaven is where my mom is.
I know we all loved my mom and we would do anything for her. So what would she ask us to do now? I think the two things mom would tell us to do is first to love and take care of each other. And the second and more important thing she would tell us to do is to “get to heaven”. So let’s do that. Let’s love and take care of each other, just like mom did for us. And while I know we can’t just decide to follow mom to heaven, God told us how to get there. He told us to follow his son Jesus, and Jesus will take us there. So let’s get to heaven. Let’s get to where mom is, where God is. And just as God told this beloved follower of Jesus, this mom of mine, we will not be disappointed with paradise.
I love you mom. And I will see you again in Heaven.
~This is the eulogy that Lenore read at Helen’s funeral~
I have five brothers and sisters and any one of us could speak endlessly about how much we love our parents, but Thursday night as the family talked about who would come up here and talk today… my name never came up. My dad said who can do it without breaking down. I said to myself, or so I thought, I can’t… and I believe I heard a collective, “we know.”
I’m sure at this moment they are all worried that I’ll fall apart and say exactly what I’m feeling which is “I want you all to go away and for this not to be happening.”
But that wouldn’t be nice so I’m not going to say it…. You all can stay.
When I considered what I should tell you about my Mom, it occurred to me that the most important thing about her you already know… and that is how she made you feel.
The most telling thing about a person is how they make the people around them feel. And we all know it felt great to be around her. You knew she loved you… it was a gift she gave you with her voice her touch, her whole heart and soul and you got it ever time you were in her presence.
For the past year and a half I’ve closed my office on Thursdays to “take care of my Mom.” At least that’s what I told my clients… how could they be upset with me for not being available if I was taking care of my Mom. But what it said on my calendar for Thursdays was “Mom-Day,” with little stars by it. I never came up here to take care of her, I came to be with her. Just to be with her. It didn’t matter that in time we couldn’t go shopping or go out to lunch. I got to sit on the couch all day, and eventually on the bed, on hold her hand and have her all to myself. I was the lucky recipient of her gift, as would be the next person to visit her.
Recently Mimi and I started driving up together to visit Mom. After a few months Mimi said, “maybe I should just see Mom on my own, I feel like I’m honing in on your time with her.” And while we’d have a lot of fun together I know Mimi wanted Mom to herself too. Patty was less subtle, if you stayed with Mom more than a few minutes after she got there she’d say” okay, now your running into my time and that’s my spot your sitting in.”
We couldn’t get enough of her gift. And what’s hard to believe is that it never diminished. Ever time you saw her, when she’d first catch your eye, she’d smile and greet in such a loving way, like she was surprised to see you. This is the greeting you got whether you’d seen her the day before or if it had been weeks since you’d seen her.
I know you’ve all experienced this too; it’s why you’re here. She loved you and you knew it. That feeling will never leave us. And neither will she.
I want to share something she said to me in her last days, when I wasn’t even sure she knew I was there.
She said, “You look sad Lenore” and a moment later “don’t cry, it’ll be nice.”
I love you like crazy Mom.
~This is the eulogy that I read at my mother’s funeral Monday.~
My mom was a creature of kindness, beauty and grace. How lucky a girl am I, to have a mother like this? When we were growing up, she never took us out for “a spa day.” No manicures or pedicures. But she took us places she thought no little girl should miss: to the ocean, to the ballet, the theater. To weekend concerts at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. I really don’t think it was about wanting to raise “proper little ladies.” She wanted to share her love of beautiful things with us.
She was a scholar, an avid reader, a news junkie. An information sponge. She was well-read and well-informed, a sparkling conversationalist … add to that, a good listener. If you met her at a party, and struck up a conversation with my mom … Well, you hit the jackpot. You were bound to have a wonderful evening because she was a delight to talk to. She was smart, unpretentious and fun. Her intellect made her a fascinating, interesting person to talk to. Her kindness and humility made her a pleasure to be around. I was so proud to introduce her as my mom.
She had a sincere interest in and affection for other people. She had many friends. I know they adored her and the feeling was mutual. Her capacity for love was limitless, it seems to me. She never had anything but nice things to say about anyone. And she meant it. My mom was not capable of phoniness. She saw the best in everyone and it was genuine. Over and over again, I hear from her friends, that it was an honor to know her. I believe them.
If I had to pick out just one word to describe my mother; it would have to be “Luminescent.” Her smile really did “light up the room.” She wasn’t a joke-teller, but she exuded happiness. She and my Dad infused our family with laughter. In our family, laughter surrounds everything. Even in the most unexpected circumstances. It made me feel so wonderful last Friday night, to hear laughing and lively conversation at the viewing. I thought to myself “this is just how my Mom would have wanted it. It would make her happy to see this.”
I saw a big red truck on the 60 freeway that night. It had a giant bottle of Bacardi on the side and the caption read “Live like you mean it.” I thought to myself “You don’t need Bacardi to live like you mean it. Well, … I’ll have whatever my Mom was drinking, because SHE really lived like she meant it.” She savored every person and moment in her life as a gift from God. And she fought for every last minute of her life with courage and grace.