Monday, February 07, 2011

Memorial words

My friend Laura asked me to post the words I spoke at Mom's memorial service.  Here you go, Laur.  Thanks for everything.





Thank you for being here today.

When we moved Mom in 2003, she thought she had left her meaningful life behind. Friends, church, community in the Bay Area...it was all she had known for over forty years. Starting over is hard at any age, but at 76? Neither of us could imagine.

But then she came to Faith Church. When we went to look at the two Episcopal churches near our house, Mom decided to come to Faith for one reason: she thought she might not be able to climb the steps outside the church in Placerville for much longer. How many times have I thanked God for those steps? Many!




And so we came to Cameron Park. The first thing she noticed was the lack of kneelers and then the screens on the wall; these were a stretch for a conservative Episcopalian woman. But you loved her. You welcomed her. You drove her to church, included her in your fellowship, shared books with her, visited her when she was sick. And now we are here, in her church HOME, for a memorial service with friends and clergy whom she really knew and loved. I cannot thank you enough.

And to our friends who are here: you've been a rock for us. Thanks for your prayers and for letting us lean on you. It is good to know we are not alone.

And now to brag on my Mama a bit. She was an independent, courageous, hilarious and articulate woman.

She loved with a fierce love. It was a beautiful thing to be loved by my mother; I am so glad I could be her daughter.

What else did Mom love?

She loved books:

Through all my growing up years, I remember seeing my beautiful mother curled up with a mystery as we went to bed. When we lived in Los Altos, she eventually switched over to the Mountain View library; she had read all the mysteries in the Los Altos one.

I remember her reading Charlotte's Web aloud to us when we were little.

I remember Mom bringing me new books when I was sick. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, All Things Bright and Beautiful, 84 Charing Cross Road.

She introduced me to C.S. Lewis. What a gift. And just this year I felt a thrill when I was able to introduce HER to Wendell Berry.

We joked about writing a book together, using the typical El Dorado County property surveying dispute we were having in our neighborhood. We named it The Property Line, but she had yet to decide if she would be the Jane Marple detective, or if she was to be the murderer...it would be a "who dunit" you wouldn't guess until the very last page.

We have made a lot of library trips in the last eight years. With her large bag of books, making her way to the check-out line, one of the grandchildren would surreptitiously grab her bag. And those bags were heavy! She never stopped reading, never stopped learning. When she died, Mornings on Horseback (a biography of Teddy Roosevelt) was on her table, open to the last page she had read.

Mom also loved ordinary beauty:

Things carved out of wood, pottery bowls of all different shapes and sizes and colors, Shakespeare (especially Hamlet, which she saw many times during my childhood, always in search of the actor who would play Hamlet perfectly), watercolor paintings, cut flowers, the faces of her grandchildren, blues music, the clean beauty of a perfectly pressed shirt, the glow of well-polished wood, skies like today's sky. It didn't need to cost money...it was the simple things she enjoyed.

And finally, Mom loved to laugh, and what a laugh she had.

This is particularly difficult for me to talk about. For you see, Mom leaves behind her books, she passed on her love of beauty to us, but that laugh...how can that laugh really be gone from this world? It doesn't seem possible. It was such a glorious song, from a woman who would happily tell you she couldn't sing a note on key.

The laughter was song enough, Mama.

I would like to close by reading a Shakespearean sonnet. I would guess it was written between lovers, but it always reminds me of Mom. It speaks of unconditional love, something she was known for.



Sonnet 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:

O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.

Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

You done good, gal.

--Patty

JSD said...

Beautiful!

Your mama loved words. I remember not too many months ago that you blogged about a word she used, I suppose in common conversation. The word was insouciance. Since then, I've had that word on a desktop sticky so that I will see it often. Maybe when I'm your mom's age, it will have made it into my vocabulary.

I wish I could have known Mrs. Jean personally. She was evidently the Woman!

Thank you for sharing your words and your heart with us, Diane. May the Lord give you that laugh for your children.

Love,
Janie

Alison said...

Oh Diane,
So, so, lovely. You created such perfect word pictures of your dear mother. What a priceless tribute for a life well-lived.

Thinking of you. Thanks for sharing the tribute. Wish I could hear your mom's laugh....

Love,
Alison

Under the Sky said...

And here I am with tears again!
Love to you, Di.

You honored her.
Love,
Kate

MagistraCarminum said...

Beautiful, Diane! Thank you for sharing. Praying for you all in this loss-
Chris Finnegan in NM

elizabeth said...

beautiful words and what a beautiful mother. Continued thoughts and prayers. Memory Eternal, may God always remember her in His Kingdom.

Carrie K. said...

Thank you for sharing, Diane. The internet is such a strange place - through your blog posts, I feel as if I knew your mother (and know you!) and so I find tears on my cheeks as I read the words you spoke about her at her service. I'm sure her laughter is ringing through Heaven.

Susan said...

Beautiful. Thank you for sharing - what an amazing woman.

tonia said...

Oh Di. what a beautiful tribute. You've done so well. Thank you for sharing your precious mom with us.

Linda said...

This leaves me with eyes filled with tears and a full heart Diane. Your tribute to you Mom is just lovely. She leaves a precious legacy.

I must get a letter off to you soon. I thought I would visit you here first.

Carol in Oregon said...

I'm reading blogs for the first time this week and am completely and simultaneously flattened and expanded by this piece.

Like other commenters, I felt like I knew your mom. I loved your mom. And you captured her essence with an economy of beauty that is simply breathtaking.

And, oh!, Di!...I see your mom in you. Those glorious loves. And that is the highest compliment I can give.

I pray for you in the days and weeks ahead. Grief is a journey, one we can't always control. But what a gift - what a incredible gift - that your grief is sweet and not bitter.

Love and prayers,

Carol

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