Sunday, August 26, 2012

Mom is Free


Eulogy for Mom
Thelma Blackstone
February 13, 1944-June 15, 2012
                For as long as I can remember, whenever anyone has asked me whom I most admire, or who is the most influential person in my life, or who is my hero, my answer has been “my mom.” I’ve tried to put into words why this is, and I’ve found it difficult. It all sounds so trite on paper in light of who she was and what she meant to me.
She was wise, gentle, loving, and curious about the world, and I admired those traits about her most. She loved all people, not just those who looked like her or experienced life in the same way she did. Differences in cultures and beliefs didn’t scare her, they interested her. I’m not sure what scared her, if anything. She embraced life as it came. She loved going out and doing things, taking my sister and me, and later our children, along for the fun.  Together we went to countless plays, musicals, concerts, fairs, movies, teas, exhibits, tours, and fun classes. She also loved parties, attending them as well as throwing them. Her favorite parties involved costumes.
I admired the way she balanced work and family life. She went to college for the first time when my sister and I were little, eventually earning her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. I remember Dad was so proud of her 4.0’s. As a nurse, she was well-respected and loved and became nurse manager for a time. After she got sick, we met more than one nurse who had worked with her at the Salem Hospital, and they all spoke of her fondly. One of them said, “She was the best boss I ever had.” I’m sure many more felt that same way. But despite her dedication to her job, she was still actively involved in the lives of my sister and me. We didn’t ever feel neglected or in her way. We were treasured daughters to the end.
Even toward the end of her life, she was a hero. She tried so hard to continue doing the things she was used to doing, even when her body and mind would no longer cooperate. It would have been easier for her to sit down and stop trying, but she was determined to keep going. While it is common for people with her condition to become angry and hostile, Mom remained consistently loving and gentle as she always had been. She is my inspiration for who I most want to be like.
I always knew my mom was a hero, but through this experience I learned that I was actually raised by two heroes. My dad’s dedication to Mom these past few years has been nothing short of heroic. I’ve read about love like that before and have probably seen it in a few movies, but with this experience, I saw it played out before my very eyes. I want my dad to know how deeply grateful I am for how lovingly he treated Mom during her illness, caring for her physical and emotional needs and doing everything he could to preserve her dignity.
I’m also grateful to my aunts, uncles, and cousins who have been so supportive during this time, especially Aunt Lorene who gave so much of her time to Mom. I’m grateful to Dad’s church family and mine for all their love and support, as well as friends and co-workers. And I’m grateful to the staff at Farmington Square who so lovingly cared for Mom since September. Most of all, I’m grateful to Alan, Mitchell, and Isaac who have been unfailingly patient, loving, and supportive as so much of my attention lately has been on my mom.
Now I have to get used to life without seeing her or touching her, and that’s still hard to imagine. But she once told me something that has proven true in my life time and time again. We were talking about my grandmas, both of whom had to bury a young son. I told her I didn’t know how they could bear it. She said that when I go through hard times, I’ll discover resources both within myself and surrounding me that I didn’t even know I had. So far she’s been right, so once again, I draw on those resources: my family and friends, and most of all, my Lord. She’s with Him now, and the door to Heaven has been cracked a little wider for me. When the time is right, I eagerly anticipate joining her there. I’m sure she’s busy planning a party for me. I can’t imagine what’s on the menu, but we’ll probably be wearing costumes.

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