Tuesday, February 17, 2009

how this was my eulogy for my mom

I’ve been writing this eulogy since my plane ride, and I have to admit, by this morning, I felt that it was about 87% there. But something just happened that completely pulled it all together. And, as usual, Mom, you were the one that did it. I’ll get to it in a minute.

I’ve been to too many funerals. And usually, when someone gets up to speak on the deceased’s behalf, they always talk about how wonderful, generous and loving of a person they were. And half the time, I get the feeling that the speech they give is really meant to convince everyone else of that. Like they’re presenting that person’s case to misbelievers.

This is not one of those times.

I don’t have to convince anyone of anything about my Mom, your wife, your aunt, your grandma, your mother-in-law, your sister-in-law, your cousin, your friend. She was truly the best at all those roles.

She made us happier even when we were already happy, lifted us when we were down and did whatever we needed even before we knew we needed it.

And she made us laugh.

When my wife and I were sitting in the airport, waiting to take off to come here, she told me a funny story about my mom. Lisa had put a little mirror in Wyatt’s room, and my mom asked her why. Lisa laughed, and revealed that the light in his room was so good, that she placed the mirror in there so she can see the chin hairs that she needed to pluck. How did my mom respond to that? By telling her that the light’s just as good in the car and that’s where she plucks her own chin hairs.

Endearing. That’s my mom.

The first concert we went to was to go see Michael Bolton. Mom told us that we had to meet one of dad’s clients in Philly, and he was a big Michael Bolton fan, and it was really important to Dad. So we hopped in the car and started driving north on the Turnpike. Which, as you all know, is the opposite way. It wasn’t until we got to Giants Stadium that it became clear. Michael Bolton wasn’t playing. The Rolling Stones were. And none of the 90,000 people rocked out any harder than she did.

Thoughtful. That’s my mom.

The night before she passed, she was somewhat drugged up, but still very lucid. My family sat around her and they watched “American Idol” – just like any other Tuesday night. And my mom was being my mom, just like any Tuesday night. Suddenly, the nurse came in and asked her, between 1 to 10, where her pain level was. She struggled to say “5”. The nurse took that in and walked out. As soon as she left, my mom turned to my dad and said, “It’s not a 5. It’s like a 2. I just want more morphine”.

Jokester. That’s my mom.

Hearing her sing completely off-key to Green Day songs, which no sixty-year-old had any right to know the lyrics to. Being completely unable to stay serious while scolding us for every stupid and funny thing we got in trouble for. Spending a quick vacation in Baltimore, the crab capital of the world, and watching her only eat cheeseburgers. Never driving on highways, for some reason she never really explained to us. Being the go-to person for all things pop culture, like gossip and trivia. Choosing to ignore every Oscar-nominated film to watch a monster movie instead. Her laughing fits that took her ten minutes to get three sentences out.

Quirky. That’s my mom.

And here’s where it all ties together. After we said our final goodbyes at the funeral home, we waited for dad at the bottom floor. But he wanted to take the elevator down, just like Mom would have done. And we waited. And waited. And then, suddenly, here comes Dad, walking up the stairs. He pressed the wrong button and it took him to the basement.

I could hear my Mom laughing from heaven.

The prankster. That’s my mom.

But we all laughed even harder when we realized that Mom had a hand in that. Just like, whenever something else funny happens, we’ll think of her and know that she probably had a hand in that too.

Whenever we laugh, from here on out, we’ll think of her and know that she was in the mix somehow.

I can stand here all night and tell stories about how she made us laugh and reminisce about all the wonderful things about her. And I’m sure we all have our stories.

Her quirkiness made us laugh. Her tenderness made us happy. Her thoughtfulness lifted us up.

That was always her responsibility that she was happy to take on.

And now, that responsibility falls to all of us.

When my grandparents passed away, my Dad and Uncle and Mom lamented that they weren’t able to write down all the stories their parents told them. I remember many of them, but I’m sure there’s just as many that fell through the cracks.

My mom left behind three amazing grandkids. Nicky and Ava Rose got to know her. Wyatt’s too young. And as time passes on, so will, unfortunately, their memories.

But I’m not gonna let that happen.

Right now, I’m gonna ask you all to think about a moment when my mom made you laugh. Made you feel better. Made you happier. It shouldn’t be too hard. This is my mom we’re talking about.

And sometime today, sometime this week, once you come up with that story, just like any one I told you about, I’m gonna ask you to tell me. And I’m gonna record it.

Nicky, Ava Rose and Wyatt won’t be able to feel their grandmother or hear her. They won’t be able to be held by her. They won’t be able to smell her or be kissed by her. And that breaks my heart.

But I do want them to be touched by her, just like how we all are. I want her to make them laugh, just like how we all did. I want her to make them feel good, just like she always had. I want her to forever be an important part of their everyday lives.

And she will.

This is my mom. How could she not?