It was just a year ago tomorrow that the family and friends gathered for a memorial service to my mother. I made some remarks at the time and have waited until now to post them. I don't think that anyone has forgotten - it may be that I'd just like to reread them.
After this service we will be getting together at the GAR Hall on Country Way for a reception – Parking there is limited but there is a big lot across the street at the Masonic Hall – we hope you are able to come. As my mother would have said there will be some “nice sandwiches” and some “nice juice” for you when you get there.
I was told me earlier in the week that I should keep these remarks short and I will, but only after I get a few things out of the way.
Teachers have a strategy – it is called activating prior knowledge – to do this I will need a little cooperation from you.
By a show of hands – how many of you were ever on a beach with my mother? How many of you stayed on that beach when it began to rain because, and I quote, “There is a little sun just over there.”
Again, with a show of hands, how many of you had my mother help you with a family party, or an anniversary, or a wedding? How many of you knew how much she enjoyed those events, how much pleasure she took in having that day or night be a success.
How many of you ever heard her order a hamburger burned beyond recognition at a restaurant? How many of you saw her heat up food until it was the temperature of a nuclear reactor core?
Since we have the chance, let’s settle something here. How many of you heard her say that Kenny was her favorite? Lee? Chris? Me? Okay, how many of you heard her say Haley was her favorite? I thought that would go that way.
How many of you ever had a piece of her double decker fudge? Don’t worry about that Ken has that figured out now.
How many of you knew of that she used a fork to eat ice cream in the middle of the night or that you could count on finding at least one cracker when you helped her change the bed? Or that song lyrics were entirely optional - la, laing and who, whoing and gathering up the cheese she went.
How many know of her genius with bleach? A true maestro - unparalleled - the Arthur Fiedler of Clorox. Proctor and Gamble sales are plumetting as I speak.
One last question – how many of you came a way from a phone call or a night around the table at Turner Road or from running into her at Charlies (How does he do it) and felt better going away than you did when you started? I thought that might go that way too.
And that is the lesson for today – we have a lot to be grateful for –
My mother was a serious, complex, often disappointed woman – lots of things in her life did not turn out the way that she wanted –she had more than her share of struggles - when a doctor would ask her for a medical history he would have to cancel other appointments – and despite all that, she had a ton of fun. She traveled when she could. She kept in touch with everyone. She was kinder than most and no one was more patient. She was trusted implicitly and as a result she was connected to more people than Kevin Bacon. You could play 6 degrees of Jeanne Gallagher and never quite be finished. She laughed a lot and she made more from less than anyone you could think of.
And we have it all still – we remember it all and we pass it on –
I told Haley the other night that Grammy wanted us to work hard and to be honest –
No one hated a sneak as much as my mother –
and if I had thought of it at the time I would have added one more thing – My mother wanted us to have a laugh once in a while – she loved the clever line, the play on words, the cutting reply, and she was not above the pratfall – Aunt Barbara fell one time – I think it was at the Clipper Ship – I don't think I have ever seen someone laugh so much trying to tell the story.
John Turner reminded me this week of how many times a group would be in the house and a conversation would begin and suddenly there would be chortle, a guffaw, from that middle room.
We would all turn into mimes - “She’s awake!!”
“Only since 1938” Because she didn’t miss a thing – especially if there was some humor in it, no matter how bleak things might seem, no matter how tough, there was a laugh to be had in every moment.
So here is your assignment – keep working hard, hold on to your integrity, find some more laughs – If Mum is looking down now – if there is not a program on that she doesn't want to miss or she is not out in a garden – then she is telling us to keep at it, to get back to work, to tell the truth, and to find the fun.
Thank you all for being here with us today.