*******On May 15, my mother passed away. Two days later, I wrote her eulogy, and delivered it at her memorial service the following Sunday. Some of you who were at the service expressed interest in reading it again, so I am posting it here for you. The thoughts are worth sharing anyway, even if you weren’t there, or didn’t know that she had passed. She was an incredible lady, and I wish you could’ve known her.*******
Hello, everyone. In case you don’t know me, my name is Melissa. I am Candy’s daughter. I wanted to share some things about my mom with you. We have had such an incredible journey together, so much so that I scarcely know where to begin. She was a kindred spirit; a woman of immense strength and passion. She cared about people with every fiber of her being. If someone she loved needed a table or chairs — or anything up to and including the shirt on her back — whatever she had was theirs. My mom poured out her life for everyone she loved, and she loved no one more than me. Sorry, everyone, if you thought you were a contender for that top spot, but it’s been filled since the ’80s, which truly says more about her than it does about me. She was special because of how she loved, not because of who she loved.
When I tried to pull together my thoughts this past Tuesday as I was writing this, the overall word that described my mother’s life was love. Closely related to that is the word sacrifice. She somehow possessed the knowledge innately of how to live a life of sacrifice and love. I don’t think she realized this, as she was consistently giving and self-effacing, but she lived out the words of Jesus to love your neighbor as yourself, and I hope He is as proud of her life as I am.
She made great sacrifices for me, and did everything she could to give me a good life. She was my mother, my father, my sister, my friend, and often, my accompanist. She was also my disciplinarian, my lecturer from time to time, my teacher, my hero. She was the water in my hands, chasing me out of my shadowlands. She was a wildflower, a deep sea. She was strong yet vulnerable, independent, sharp, witty, musical, and possessed a deep-seated love of her Norwegian heritage, as well as a deep hatred for blueberries. You’ll have to ask my Aunt Cherie about that one.
Her greatest wish would be for all of us to live well. She tried to live as best as she knew how, whatever she felt that entailed. She did what she could to care for herself, though she was always far better at taking care of others. Care for others does not come as innately to me as it did for her, and I wish I had done more to show her my care. Why is it that mothers especially are appreciated so little until they are gone?
The tapestry of beautiful memories that have built up so steadily over the past 31 years that I have known her will be treasured forever. In 2011, she took me on a European cruise as a present for graduating college and beginning my graduate school journey. We were both so excited to see Norway, the mother country, and she was happier than I’d seen her when she was there. We both were. On our first night, I remember standing with her on the deck of the ship, steaming full blast into the most beautiful sun I had ever seen. She was a few paces away, having her own moment of enjoyment in the cool evening glow. I remember singing a Beatles song with her at the airport in Copenhagen on our way back. People were looking at us like we belonged in an asylum, but we didn’t care. We just laughed and sang and had a grand old time.
I remember when I was little, I had my tonsils out the same week she had foot surgery. We spent the whole time in her room, sitting on her bed and playing board games. I would write her notes because I couldn’t talk, and she would have me do all the running around the house collecting stuff and (heaven help us) cooking, since she couldn’t walk. I remember a lot of microwaveable pancakes with bananas and chocolate sauce. I didn’t have any complaints.
A few years ago, I was in the hospital and had just had a spinal tap, which is about as fun as it sounds. The doctors had told me to stay perfectly flat on the gurney or I would have a terrible headache. When I got back to my hospital room, my mom was there, along with lunch. She actually had to spoon feed me while I was flat on the bed, and I started laughing at the ridiculous picture it was creating. I felt like a baby bird, or perhaps a toddler who hadn’t quite learned to feed herself — not exactly the most flattering picture for a then-27-year-old. Then she started laughing, and I started shaking my whole body as I do when I’m laughing hard. She tried to calm us down but it was too ridiculous and funny, and we couldn’t stop for what felt like ages. Had I ever gotten that headache I’d been warned about, it would’ve been worth it for the laughs. We had so many moments in which we lost ourselves in laughter.
There was a lot of laughter because we shared a similarly random, quirky humor. There were some hard memories too, but even when we went through hell, we bore the pain together, just as we soared together on the wings of the joys of life. I know my mom is soaring now, and I’m so glad to have such assurance that she has found the purest happiness and bliss — and rest — in the arms of God. Nobody is more deserving of that than she is.
Whatever life brought, we went through it together. I wish more people had that. I wish more people had the family that I have, because my mother’s spirit of care lives in all of my family members, those that are here with me today. God created us for relationship. The truest happinesses in life are only real when they are shared, and I hope that if nothing else, you come away from today with a real desire to invest the precious and short time you’ve been given into the people God has placed around you. Of all the things to do in this wild world, nothing you do will be more important than loving others well. My mom would want nothing more than to leave behind a legacy of love and caring. She would’ve made the world brighter for everyone, if she could have. All of us together can make that light just a little bit brighter. We are all promises. We are all possibilities. What we do and how we live matter immensely. As we remember her life, may we all remember to live and love well. Thank you all so much for being here to celebrate my wonderful mother today. May God’s love be with you all.