Mother’s Day 2011

As you may know, my parents died several years ago (Dad almost 10 years, Mom almost 6). This was the first year I didn’t wake up thinking about them on their birthdays, but it is nearly impossible to forget about them on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

I’ve written about Mom many times on this blog and I don’t really have anything new to say about her. However, the best short summary of her life and how she influenced mine was what I said at her funeral. I’m in media so making a speech is no big thing for me, but that was probably the most difficult and emotional three minutes I’ve ever had. I know I held it together till the last line.

Here is what I said (family names were removed here for privacy reasons):

When we met with Father Ralph a few days ago, he pointed us in a wonderful direction for today. He said this should be a celebration of your Mother’s life.

My sister and I are so lucky to have had her as our mother, and there are so many things we could say about her. But in my mind, four things stand out above the rest:

1) She had a great sense of humor …. She loved a good laugh. One of my sister’s last memories of her was a few days before Katrina. Mom was sitting there at the nursing home laughing. My sister doesn’t really know what she was laughing at, but she was having a good ole laugh.

2) Mom loved to travel. And with the evacuation to north Louisiana and her return here in this casket, she traveled more during her last three days of life and the weeks since her death than she had traveled in decades. She is probably having a good laugh about that right now.

3) Mom paid me and my sister the greatest compliment a mother could pay a child … many times. She married late in life, especially for her generation, at age 39. She told us many times, including at her 94th birthday party, that her life really didn’t begin till she was in her 40s, when she had us.

4) One of the most important things in life is family. Up until the last year or so, she kept up with what was going on in your lives … the cousins, your kids, your grandkids. The Mary Kay sisters, the red car ... she even got to ride in the red Mary Kay car and she was aware of things that day.

And it means a lot to my sister and I that you are here sharing this day with us.

Mom, we love you.

I know I choked up a little on that last line and I’m pretty sure I heard a little bit of crying in the church after we sat down. We were surprised and blessed by the presence of some of the people who took time out of their on-going Katrina damage cleanup to attend the funeral. We saw old neighbors and even some cousins we hadn’t seen since childhood. Mom had a much bigger impact on their lives than I realized and I know that while she was alive I didn’t sufficiently acknowledge the positive impact she had on mine. My obsessiveness, my curiosity and my story-telling are three things I got from her.

She used to read the daily newspaper cover to cover nearly every day well into her 80s. If heaven has wi-fi, maybe she’s reading this blog.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.