My mother’s funeral was held on Dec. 15th, 2017. These are the words I shared:
“When one has the opportunity to be with their most cherished loved one when they are at their most ill, most in need and most vulnerable, it offers the opportunity to reflect, in a deeply profound way, what that person has meant to you. 21 days gave me a lot of time to reflect on my mom, who she was, what she meant to others and what she meant to me. As I reflected, what kept coming up most for me, was how much I am like her…..and how much I am not like her. And I realized, just how much I have learned from my mother.
There are, of course, the tangible things I learned; the daily life skills that my mom taught me with intent. She taught me how to drive a stick-shift and parallel park at the Mt. Angel Abbey; she taught me how to change a tire; how to paint my nails; how to balance a check book; how to follow a recipe; how to write a cover letter; how to edit my writing. The list goes on and on.
Then there are the things I learned from her that I learned just by being her daughter – by watching her, listening to her and subconsciously observing her. I took on mannerisms such as how I take my glasses off and how I use my pointer finger to tap cues on my phone even though I don’t have the long nails she had – and many more I’m sure I am completely unaware of. I learned how to be a good hostess – which mostly requires having a full bar at all times so your guests can have the cocktail of their choosing, or the wine of their pleasure or their favorite type of beer. It also requires knowing how to set a beautiful table and create a warm and cozy atmosphere complete with the smell of cinnamon (or nag champa) and music playing in the background. I learned that “Alice’s Restaurant” is a Thanksgiving tradition. I learned to appreciate diversity and to love people truly and deeply. I learned how to be kind. Kind to the person at the DMV who is bluntly telling me I cannot achieve my goal because of a minor technicality – kind to the person on the other end of the phone who is telling me they are going to transfer me to another department….again. Kind to the stranger on the street, kind to those I can relate to and kind to those I can learn from. Kindness extends to everyone.
I learned that it is okay to be different and to be myself…and to stay true to that.
Finally, there are the things I’ve learned from my mom that I aspire to. The characteristics and qualities that I’m still developing. I could stand to have more patience. She was so patient. She was determined and perseverant. She had the most positive of attitudes – even in the most challenging of circumstances – she would find the good in it and a reason to smile.
She was so accepting of all people without judgement. She truly lead with love, kindness and acceptance for everyone over everything else. She made you feel warm, safe, appreciated and loved unconditionally.
I cherish all of these things I have learned from my mother and I hold on to them so tight, because by holding on to them, I feel I hold onto her.